Thursday, November 6, 2014

Movie of the Week – Mrs. Miniver

This week’s movie: Mrs. Miniver (1942)

The war drama centers on a British family in a small town as they struggle to survive the first months of WWII.

The film is directed by brilliant Hollywood auteur William Wyler (winning an Oscar for Best Director). He worked with composer Herbert Stothart, cinematographer Joseph Ruttenberg (who also won an Oscar for his work on the film as well) and art director Cedric Gibbons.

Greer Garson stars, backed up by a wonderful ensemble including: Walter Pidgeon, Teresa Wright, Dame May Whitty, Reginald Owen, Henry Travers, Richard Ney, and Henry Wilcoxon. Garson and Wright won Oscars for their performances (Wright was nominated for Oscars in her first three major performances; her other two performances are in The Little Foxes, also for Wyler, and The Pride of the Yankees; she is also brilliant in her fourth and sixth films as well, Shadow of a Doubt and The Best Years of Our Lives respectively).

Mrs. Miniver won six Oscars on nine nominations including Best Picture. It is among the top one-hundred films of the twentieth century. It is a propaganda film, made to garner support in America for the war that had already begun in Europe and Asia. The success of the film had a profound effect on the isolationist American’s sympathy for the British people. The speech that ends the film was even printed in magazines like Time and Look and it was broadcast on the Voice of America. Wyler joined the US army after completing the film as part of the Signal Corps. Returning from the war, he realized that his portrayal of war was far too soft. Winston Churchill said that the film did more for the war effort than a flotilla of destroyers. It is intense, gripping, beautiful, rousing, and tragic. It is a great drama, featuring strong performances. It is a must-see for fans of the cinematic period.

Trailer: Here
Available on: Blu-ray and Video On-Demand

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