- Mrs. Miniver (film)
Theatrical release poster
Directed by William Wyler Produced by Sidney Franklin Written by Jan Struther (book)
Starring Greer Garson
Dame May Whitty
Music by Herbert Stothart Cinematography Joseph Ruttenberg Editing by Harold F. Kress Distributed by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Release date(s) June 4, 1942 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. 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.
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.
Roosevelt ordered it rushed to the theaters for propaganda purposes.
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.
- Greer Garson as Mrs. Kay Miniver
- Walter Pidgeon as Clem Miniver
- Teresa Wright as Carol Beldon
- Dame May Whitty as Lady Beldon
- Reginald Owen as Foley
- Henry Travers as James Ballard
- Richard Ney as Vin Miniver
- Henry Wilcoxon as Vicar
- Christopher Severn as Toby Miniver
- Brenda Forbes as Gladys - Housemaid
- Clare Sandars as Judy Miniver
- Marie De Becker as Ada - Cook
- Helmut Dantine as German Flyer
- John Abbott as Fred
- Connie Leon as Simpson
Awards and nominations
- Wilcoxon and director William Wyler "wrote and re-wrote" the key sermon "the night before the sequence was to be shot." 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."
- In 2009, it was named to the National Film Registry by the Library of Congress for being “culturally, historically or aesthetically” significant and will be preserved for all time.
- 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.
- Soon after filming, Richard Ney, who played Greer Garson's son and was 11 years her junior, married Garson.
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.
- 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."
- 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" ”
- ^ IMDB "Mrs. Miniver". http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0035093/ IMDB. Retrieved 2011-11-19.
- ^ IMDB "Mrs. Miniver Awards". http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0035093/awards IMDB. Retrieved 2011-11-19.
- ^ Reel Classics "Mrs. Miniver". http://www.reelclassics.com/Movies/Miniver/miniver.htm Reel Classics. Retrieved 2011-11-18.
- ^ Emily Yellin, Our Mothers' War, p 99-100 ISBN 0-7432-4514-8
- ^ Gardner, W. J. R.(ed.), The Evacuation from Dunkirk, 'Operation Dynamo', 26 May-4 June 1940, Frank Cass, London, 2000 ISBN 0714651206.
- ^ "The 15th Academy Awards (1943) Nominees and Winners". oscars.org. http://www.oscars.org/awards/academyawards/legacy/ceremony/15th-winners.html. Retrieved 2011-08-14.
- ^ a b Daynard, Don Henry Wilcoxon in Peter Harris (ed.) The New Captain George's Whizzbang #13 (1971), p. 5
- ^ "25 new titles added to National Film Registry". Yahoo News (Yahoo). 2009-12-30. http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20091230/ap_en_mo/us_classic_films_glance;_ylt=Am9aCMfxzzsN4EY9F802IESs0NUE;_ylu=X3oDMTNzcHU5NnU4BGFzc2V0A2FwLzIwMDkxMjMwL3VzX2NsYXNzaWNfZmlsbXNfZ2xhbmNlBGNjb2RlA21vc3Rwb3B1bGFyBGNwb3MDMTAEcG9zAzcEcHQDaG9tZV9jb2tlBHNlYwN5bl9oZWFkbGluZV9saXN0BHNsawMyNW5ld3RpdGxlc2E-. Retrieved 2009-12-30. [dead link]
- ^ "Jan Struther Bibliography". October 20, 2008. http://www.zip.com.au/~lnbdds/home/janstruther7.htm.
- ^ Salinger, J.D. Raise High the Roof Beam, Carpenters and Seymour: An Introduction. Harmondsworth Penguin Books Ltd, 1964, p.53
- ^ http://www.loc.gov/today/pr/2009/09-250.html
- Mrs. Miniver at the Internet Movie Database
- Mrs. Miniver at AllRovi
- Mrs. Miniver at the TCM Movie Database
- Mrs. Miniver at Rotten Tomatoes
- "Where Is Today's Mrs. Miniver?". http://www.objectivistcenter.org/cth--1681-Miniver2006.aspx. Retrieved 2008-04-28.
- "Mrs. Miniver Opening Scenes". http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=XIsjGh42OiQ&feature=related. Retrieved 2008-08-20.
- "Mrs. Miniver and the German Soldier". http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=yTPVp1-Io5g. Retrieved 2008-08-20.
- "The full Cast of Mrs. Miniver". http://www.cinema.com/film/8071/mrs-miniver/cast.phtml. Retrieved 2008-10-09.
- "Mrs. Miniver Script transcript". http://www.script-o-rama.com/movie_scripts/m/mrs-miniver-script-transcript-greer.html. Retrieved 2008-10-08.
Films directed by William Wyler 1920sThe Crook Buster (1925) • The Gunless Bad Man (1926) • Ridin' for Love (1926) • The Fire Barrier (1926) • Don't Shoot (1926) • The Pinnacle Rider (1926) • Martin of the Mounted (1926) • Lazy Lightning (1926) • The Stolen Ranch (1926) • The Two Fister (1927) • Kelcy Gets His Man (1927) • Tenderfoot Courage (1927) • The Silent Partner (1927) • Blazing Days (1927) • Shooting Straight (1927) • Galloping Justice (1927) • The Haunted Homestead (1927) • Hard Fists (1927) • The Lone Star (1927) • The Home Trail (1927) • Gun Justice (1927) • The Phantom Outlaw (1927) • The Square Shooter (1927) • The Horse Trader (1927) • Daze of the West (1927) • The Border Cavalier (1927) • Desert Dust (1927) • Thunder Riders (1928) • Anybody Here Seen Kelly? (1928) • The Shakedown (1929) • The Love Trap (1929) 1930sHell's Heroes (1930) • The Storm (1930) • A House Divided (1931) • Tom Brown of Culver (1932) • Her First Mate (1933) • Counsellor at Law (1933) • Glamour (1934) • The Good Fairy (1935) • The Gay Deception (1935) • Barbary Coast (1935) • These Three (1936) • Dodsworth (1936) • Come and Get It (1936) • Dead End (1937) • Jezebel (1938) • Wuthering Heights (1939) 1940s 1950s 1960s 1970sThe Liberation of L.B. Jones (1970) Academy Award for Best Picture (1941–1960)
How Green Was My Valley (1941) · Mrs. Miniver (1942) · Casablanca (1943) · Going My Way (1944) · The Lost Weekend (1945) · The Best Years of Our Lives (1946) · Gentleman's Agreement (1947) · Hamlet (1948) · All the King's Men (1949) · All About Eve (1950) · An American in Paris (1951) · The Greatest Show on Earth (1952) · From Here to Eternity (1953) · On the Waterfront (1954) · Marty (1955) · Around the World in 80 Days (1956) · The Bridge on the River Kwai (1957) · Gigi (1958) · Ben-Hur (1959) · The Apartment (1960)
Complete list · (1927–1940) · (1941–1960) · (1961–1980) · (1981–2000) · (2001–2020)
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