Mrs. Miniver (film)

Mrs. Miniver (film)
Mrs. Miniver

Theatrical release poster
Directed by William Wyler
Produced by Sidney Franklin
Written by Jan Struther (book)
George Froeschel
James Hilton
Claudine West
Arthur Wimperis
Starring Greer Garson
Walter Pidgeon
Teresa Wright
Dame May Whitty
Reginald Owen
Henry Travers
Richard Ney
Henry Wilcoxon
Music by Herbert Stothart
Cinematography Joseph Ruttenberg
Editing by Harold F. Kress
Distributed by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer
Release date(s) June 4, 1942 (1942-06-04)
Running time 134 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $1,344,000
Box office $8,878,000

Mrs. Miniver is a 1942 American drama film directed by William Wyler, and starring Greer Garson, Walter Pidgeon, and Teresa Wright.[1] Based on the fictional English housewife created by Jan Struther in 1937 for a series of newspaper columns, the film won six Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Best Actress, Best Supporting Actress, and Best Director.[2][3]



Mrs. Kay Miniver (Greer Garson) and her family live a comfortable life at a house called "Starlings" in a village outside London. The house has a large garden, with a private landing stage on the river Thames, and a motorboat. Her husband Clem (Walter Pidgeon) is a successful architect. They have three children: the youngsters Toby and Judy (Christopher Severn and Clare Sandars), and an older son Vin (Richard Ney) at university. They have live-in staff: Gladys the housemaid (Brenda Forbes) and Ada the cook (Marie De Becker).

As World War II looms, Vin comes down from university and meets Carol Beldon (Teresa Wright), granddaughter of Lady Beldon (Dame May Whitty) from nearby Beldon Hall. Despite initial disagreements—mainly contrasting Vin's idealistic attitude to class differences with Carol's practical altruism—they fall in love. Vin proposes to Carol at a yacht club dinner-dance. They eventually marry, but as the war comes closer to home, Vin feels he must "do his bit" and enlists in the Royal Air Force, qualifying as a fighter pilot. He is posted to a base near to his parents' home. Together with other boat owners, Clem volunteers to take his motorboat to assist in the Dunkirk evacuation.

One morning, Kay hears a plane crash nearby. The wounded, fanatical German pilot (Helmut Dantine) hides in her garden and then holds her at gunpoint. She feeds him, calmly disarms him, and then calls the police. Soon after, Clem comes home.

At the flower show's competition, the entry of the local stationmaster Mr. Ballard (Henry Travers) named the "Mrs. Miniver" rose is declared the winner over Lady Beldon's rose. Afterward, Kay and Carol drive Vin to join his squadron just as an air attack begins. On their return home, Kay stops the car; Carol is wounded in an attack from a German plane. She dies a few minutes after they reach home. Kay is devastated. When Vin returns from battle, he is told the terrible news.

The local inhabitants assemble at the badly damaged church where their vicar (Henry Wilcoxon) affirms their determination in a powerful sermon:

We in this quiet corner of England have suffered the loss of friends very dear to us, some close to this church. George West, choirboy. James Ballard, stationmaster and bellringer, and the proud winner only an hour before his death of the Beldon Cup for his beautiful Miniver Rose. And our hearts go out in sympathy to the two families who share the cruel loss of a young girl who was married at this altar only two weeks ago. The homes of many of us have been destroyed, and the lives of young and old have been taken. There's scarcely a household that hasn't been struck to the heart. And why? Surely you must have asked yourselves this question? Why in all conscience should these be the ones to suffer? Children, old people, a young girl at the height of her loveliness? Why these? Are these our soldiers? Are these our fighters? Why should they be sacrificed?

I shall tell you why. Because this is not only a war of soldiers in uniform. It is the war of the people, of all the people. And it must be fought not only on the battlefield but in the cities and in the villages, in the factories and on the farms, in the home and in the heart of every man, woman and child who loves freedom. Well, we have buried our dead, but we shall not forget them. Instead they will inspire us with an unbreakable determination to free ourselves, and those who come after us, from the tyranny and terror that threaten to strike us down. This is the People's War. It is our war. We are the fighters. Fight it then. Fight it with all that is in us. And may God defend the right.

Vin then moves over to Mrs. Beldon and stands with her as the congregation stand in unity and sing "Onward, Christian Soldiers" at the top of their voices, while through a gaping hole in the bombed-out roof in the sky above can be seen flight after flight of RAF fighters in the V-for-Victory formation heading out to face the enemy.


The film adaptation of Mrs. Miniver was produced by MGM in 1942 with Greer Garson in the leading role and William Wyler directing.

Roosevelt ordered it rushed to the theaters for propaganda purposes.[4]

The film exceeded all expectations, grossing $5,358,000 in North America (the highest for any MGM film at the time) and $3,520,000 abroad. In Britain, it was named the top box office attraction of 1942. Of the 592 film critics polled by American magazine Film Daily, 555 named it the best film of 1942.

There is a parallel story concerning the Dunkirk evacuation. Sub-Lieut. Robert Owen Wilcoxon of the Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve, only brother of Henry Wilcoxon, assisted in the Dunkirk evacuation on May 29, 1940; but, having helped to get hundreds of Allied troops off the beach to safety in his assault landing craft, he was fatally injured when, after returning to the sloop HMS Bideford to arrange a tow back to Dover, the ship had its stern blown off by a bomb dropped from a dive-bombing German aircraft. This must have been on Wilcoxon's mind during the making of the film.[5]


Awards and nominations

It was the Winner of 6 Academy Awards.[6]

Award Result Nominee Notes
Outstanding Motion Picture Won Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Winner was Sidney Franklin, the film's producer
Best Director Won William Wyler
Best Actor Nominated Walter Pidgeon Winner was James Cagney for Yankee Doodle Dandy
Best Actress Won Greer Garson
Best Writing, Screenplay Won George Froeschel, James Hilton, Claudine West, Arthur Wimperis
Best Supporting Actor Nominated Henry Travers Winner was Van Heflin for Johnny Eager
Best Supporting Actress Won Teresa Wright
Best Supporting Actress Nominated May Whitty Winner was Teresa Wright for Mrs. Miniver
Best Cinematography, Black-and-White Won Joseph Ruttenberg
Best Effects, Special Effects Nominated A. Arnold Gillespie (photographic)
Warren Newcombe (photographic)
Douglas Shearer (sound)
Winner was Gordon Jennings, Farciot Edouart, William L. Pereira, Louis Mesenkop for Reap the Wild Wind
Best Film Editing Nominated Harold F. Kress Winner was Daniel Mandell for The Pride of the Yankees
Best Sound, Recording Nominated Douglas Shearer Winner was Nathan Levinson for Yankee Doodle Dandy


  • Wilcoxon and director William Wyler "wrote and re-wrote" the key sermon "the night before the sequence was to be shot."[7] The speech "made such an impact that it was used in essence by President Roosevelt as a morale builder and part of it was the basis for leaflets printed in various languages and dropped over enemy and occupied territory."[7]
  • Greer Garson has the longest Oscar acceptance speech of all time. It took five-and-a-half minutes to finish it after winning the prize for Best Actress. A 45-second time limit was imposed on acceptance speeches shortly thereafter.

Sequel and adaptations

  • In 1943, the film was adapted into an episode of the Lux Radio Theater. That episode in turn was popular enough to inspire a 5 day a week serial, starring radio veteran Trudy Warner on CBS.[9]
  • In 1950, a film sequel The Miniver Story was made with Greer Garson and Walter Pidgeon reprising their roles.
  • In 1960, a 90-minutes television adaptation directed by Marc Daniels was broadcast on CBS, with Maureen O'Hara as Mrs. Miniver and Leo Genn as Clem Miniver.


  • Mrs. Miniver is briefly mentioned in a J. D. Salinger story, "Raise High the Roof Beam, Carpenters": "a movie ... something with Greer Garson in it ... [her] son's plane was missing in action."[10]
  • In June 2006, the film placed #40 on the American Film Institute's list celebrating the most inspirational films of all time.
  • In 2009, the film was selected to the National Film Registry for the following reasons:
This remarkably touching wartime melodrama pictorializes the classic British stiff upper lip and the courage of a middle-class English family (headed by Greer Garson and Walter Pidgeon) amid the chaos of air raids and family loss. The film’s iconic tribute to the sacrifices on the home front, as movingly directed by William Wyler, did much to rally America’s support for its British allies. "Mrs. Miniver" won six Oscars including Best Picture, Best Director and Best Actress"[11]


  1. ^ IMDB "Mrs. Miniver". IMDB. Retrieved 2011-11-19. 
  2. ^ IMDB "Mrs. Miniver Awards". IMDB. Retrieved 2011-11-19. 
  3. ^ Reel Classics "Mrs. Miniver". Reel Classics. Retrieved 2011-11-18. 
  4. ^ Emily Yellin, Our Mothers' War, p 99-100 ISBN 0-7432-4514-8
  5. ^ Gardner, W. J. R.(ed.), The Evacuation from Dunkirk, 'Operation Dynamo', 26 May-4 June 1940, Frank Cass, London, 2000 ISBN 0714651206.
  6. ^ "The 15th Academy Awards (1943) Nominees and Winners". Retrieved 2011-08-14. 
  7. ^ a b Daynard, Don Henry Wilcoxon in Peter Harris (ed.) The New Captain George's Whizzbang #13 (1971), p. 5
  8. ^ "25 new titles added to National Film Registry". Yahoo News (Yahoo). 2009-12-30.;_ylt=Am9aCMfxzzsN4EY9F802IESs0NUE;_ylu=X3oDMTNzcHU5NnU4BGFzc2V0A2FwLzIwMDkxMjMwL3VzX2NsYXNzaWNfZmlsbXNfZ2xhbmNlBGNjb2RlA21vc3Rwb3B1bGFyBGNwb3MDMTAEcG9zAzcEcHQDaG9tZV9jb2tlBHNlYwN5bl9oZWFkbGluZV9saXN0BHNsawMyNW5ld3RpdGxlc2E-. Retrieved 2009-12-30. [dead link]
  9. ^ "Jan Struther Bibliography". October 20, 2008. 
  10. ^ Salinger, J.D. Raise High the Roof Beam, Carpenters and Seymour: An Introduction. Harmondsworth Penguin Books Ltd, 1964, p.53
  11. ^

External links

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