Thursday, September 2, 2010

1942: Mrs. Miniver

I saw this movie once almost seven years ago, and I remembered very little about it.  Even so, I am surprised that I didn't remember what an incredible film it is.

This film is so good that it's hard to know where to begin praising it.  The story is extremely intriguing.  It's about a small town in England that is trying to keep a semblance of normalcy during the air raids of World War II.  I was going to elaborate, but that's the general premise, and I don't know how to summarize the rest of the story without seeming incredibly long-winded.  Basically, they're normal people who try to keep a positive attitude in the face of war and death.

The performances were magnificent.  Greer Garson deservedly won Best Actress for her portrayal of the extremely likeable title character.  Her husband was played by Walter Pidgeon, which makes this his second Best Picture winner in a row.  Richard Ney and Teresa Wright are wonderful as Vin Miniver and his love interest, Carol Beldon.  Then there's Lady Beldon, played perfectly by Dame May Whitty (who will nevertheless always be "the diggy biscuit lady from Gaslight" in my mind).  And Henry Travers (aka Clarence from It's a Wonderful Life) is adorable as the train station master who names his rose after Mrs. Miniver.

I think what intrigued me most about this film is that it was made in 1942, which means the events that the film portrays were happening as it was made.  Therefore, there's no real happy ending because no one knew for sure how the war was going to end.  However, the film ends on a hopeful note.  I loved how the last title said "The End.  America needs your money.  Buy defense bonds and stamps every pay day."  Naturally, the film struck a deep chord with audiences of its day, but that doesn't make it any less profound now.  It remains an incredibly powerful, encouraging film.  Yes, it's idealistic, but that's kind of the point.  Also, it's nice to know that a film can have explosions and a really good story with decent writing.  Hollywood seems to have forgotten that.

I'm very excited because I get to follow this truly excellent film with another fabulous film: Casablanca

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