Mrs. Miniver Review
By Christopher Null
For some reason, I've resisted seeing the acclaimed Mrs. Miniver all my life (probably due to the dull title) -- but finally I caught a showing on Turner Classic Movies and I was duly impressed. Now out on DVD, there's no excuse for anyone to miss seeing Miniver for themselves.
The titular missus is just a moderatly wealthy English lady in 1939 who's trying to keep her family together on the eve of World War II. Her son enlists in the RAF, her husband serves in the river patrol. The Germans drop bombs and, eventually, a Nazi soldier lands in the Miniver backyard. In happier times the son woos and marries the local beauty. A flower show is held. Oddly, all of this is compelling and makes perfect sense -- and it all looks gorgeous thanks to some lush black & white photography, excellent set designs, and impressive war effects.
Though Teresa Wright won an Oscar for her small role, Greer Garson's Mrs. Miniver is the one to watch (it's amazing how much she improved as an actress since her debut in 1939's Goodbye, Mr. Chips). Watch her eyes slowly enlarge as the squeal of falling bombs gets louder and louder. She looks genuinely afraid for her life... or more to the point, for the life of her family. Garson also won an Oscar. William Wyler won Best Director, and the film also won Best Screenplay and Best Picture.
The remaining cast is also good, including Walter Pidgeon as the upstanding father and Richard Ney as the eldest son, duly self-impressed with his newfound schoolboy philosophies that decry the evils of elitism.
Mrs. Miniver is altogether a solid anti-war film that tells a rare story about the devastation WWII had on those who stayed at home, and who were just as much victims as those in the field.
Extras on the new DVD include two WWII-era newsreels, plus footage from Garson's record-breaking Oscar acceptance speech (it was almost 6 minutes long).
Facts and Figures
In Theaters: Tuesday 1st December 1942
Distributed by: MGM Home Entertainment
Production compaines: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM)
Rotten Tomatoes: 91%
Fresh: 21 Rotten: 2
Cast & Crew
Starring: Greer Garson as Mrs. Miniver, Walter Pidgeon as Clem Miniver, Teresa Wright as Carol Beldon, Dame May Whitty as Lady Beldon, Reginald Owen as Foley, Henry Travers as Mr. 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, Helmut Dantine as German Flyer, John Abbott as Fred, Connie Leon as Simpson