The Miniver Story
Cast & Crew
H. C. Potter
While shopping in London on 8 May 1945, suburban housewife Mrs. Kay Miniver hears the official radio announcement that the war on the European front has ended. Upon returning to her home in a small village outside of London, Kay begins preparations for the imminent homecoming of her family: young son Toby, sent to live in the United States in order to escape the bombing raids; daughter Judy, a military nurse stationed in Cairo; and husband Clem, an officer in the British Army. That evening, as the entire village gathers together to celebrate V-E Day and to bid farewell to the Allied troops stationed there, Spike Romway, the American commander of the troops, confesses to Kay that he has fallen in love with her. Though touched by Spike's admission, Kay reminds him that intense bonds have been created by the hardships of war, and she wisely counsels him to forget about her so that he can rekindle his love for the wife he left behind. Within a few weeks, the Minivers are reunited and begin the process of returning to normal family life. Clem goes back to work at his architectural firm, and everyone is amused by Toby's adoption of American slang and his obsession with baseball. Kay and Clem grow concerned over Judy's passionate love for General Steve Brunswick, a man several years her senior who has only recently separated from his wife. Unknown to her family, Kay has been diagnosed with a fatal illness and, after suffering a dizzy spell in the presence of Clem, she visits her physician, Dr. Kanesley, to find out how much time she has left. After Dr. Kanesley gently informs Kay that her disease has progressed rapidly because of the stresses of the war, he gives her a life expectancy of only six months to one year. Although Dr. Kanesley advises her to tell her family as soon as possible, Kay repeatedly finds herself unable to do so. In the meantime, Clem, who has experienced difficulty in returning to the work he once loved, applies for a position in Brazil and begs Kay to consider moving the family there so that they can start all over. Searching for a reason behind her husband's desire to leave his beloved England, Kay soon suspects that his depression is linked to the view he sees each day from his office window, the devastation of London caused by prolonged bombing during the war. After Kay and Clem's secretary Janet move him into another office, Clem's anxiety disappears and he turns down the foreign job offer. Kay and Clem continue to worry about Judy's love for Steve and secretly hope that she will one day acknowledge the affections of Tom Foley, an aspiring architect and the son of the Minivers' neighbors. However, Judy soon announces that she and Steve are to marry as soon as he obtains a divorce. With Judy's approval, Kay goes to London to introduce herself to Steve. Although she is impressed with Steve's intelligence and forthright manner, the astute Kay quickly determines that Steve is still in love with his wife, a famous and gifted concert pianist. After Steve describes the fiery arguments that he and his equally passionate wife had over music and painting, Kay carefully points out that Judy shall never challenge him in such a manner, for she is not educated in the arts and her tastes are quite simple. Later that afternoon, Judy returns home in tears, angrily accusing Kay of causing Steve to end their relationship. Kay attempts to console Judy, gently explaining that although Steve truly loved Judy's freshness and youth, the war caused him to lose sight of the deeper and more abiding love he shared with his wife. When Judy fails to understand, Kay alludes to the feelings she shared with Spike during wartime, and then reads Judy a recent letter from Spike, in which he describes how Kay inspired him with a new understanding of his love for his wife. At last comprehending her mother's actions, Judy embraces Kay and, after drying her tears, agrees to accompany Kay and Clem to a village dance that evening. At the party, Clem offers Tom an apprenticeship at his architectural firm, and Judy happily dances with the young man. At last feeling that everything will work out for the best, Kay breaks the news of her illness to Clem, who plunges into a deep despair, unable to imagine how the family can carry on without her. Kay dies that winter, but not before seeing Judy married to Tom in a beautiful autumn wedding. Four years later, Tom and Judy are sharing the Minivers' former bedroom and caring for Clem and young Toby, with Kay's spirit living on through their love for one another.
H. C. Potter
William [james] Fox
Harold F. Kress
A. W. Watkins
The Miniver Story
Garson took an active role in creating the screenplay, which has the Miniver family being brought together after the end of World War II, the source of much of the drama of the original. She and Franklin agreed that, as Mrs. Miniver had personified British courage during the war, she should exemplify the experience of the postwar English people. Walter Pidgeon, returning as her husband, Clem, has a line in which he says, "You've had quite a war, Mrs. Miniver, and youÕre having quite a peace. Cooking, washing, scrubbing, standing in queues hunting for rations, finding the meals, reading the headlines..." Mrs. Miniver's new crises also involved an amorous American colonel (John Hodiak) and a terminal illness.
Returning from the original cast, along with Garson and Pidgeon, were Henry Wilcoxson and Reginald Owen as the local vicar and grocer. Noticeably absent was Richard Ney, who had played Garson's son in the original. In the interim, despite the nine-year difference in their ages, Garson had married and divorced the actor. Garson biographer Michael Troyan relates that, with characteristic humor, the actress proposed a means of explaining Ney's absence in the sequel: "Well, we could have a scene in which Walter and I - he with his newspaper, with my knitting - would be sitting at home one evening. I turn to him and say, 'Oh, by the way, I had a letter from Vinny today...You remember Vinny, our son who went off to Hollywood and married Greer Garson.'" An early story synopsis revealed the character's true fate: "Five years ago the Minivers lost their eldest, Vin, an RAF pilot, in the Battle of Britain."
Producer: Sidney Franklin
Director: H.C. Potter
Screenplay: George Froeschel, Ronald Millar, Randal Miller, inspired by characters created by Jan Struther
Cinematography: Joseph Ruttenberg
Costume Design: Gaston Malletti, Walter Plunkett
Editing: Frank Clarke, Harold F. Kress
Original Music: Miklos Rozsa, Herbert Stothart
Cast: Greer Garson (Kay Miniver), Walter Pidgeon (Clem Miniver), John Hodiak (Spike Romway), Leo Genn (Steven Brunswick), Cathy O'Donnell (Judy Miniver), Reginald Owen (Mr. Foley), Peter Finch (Polish officer).
by Roger Fristoe
The Miniver Story
Death can be easy. It's living that's difficult.- Kay Miniver
This film was a sequel to the Academy Award-winning 1942 film Mrs. Miniver (see below). Greer Garson, Walter Pidgeon, Henry Wilcoxon and Reginald Owen recreated their roles from the 1942 film. The Miniver Story opens with the following written prologue: "This is the story of a woman after a war-- who lived and hoped and struggled through the anxious years, and now saw them end and another peace begin...It starts in London on V-E Day, 1945." The film includes intermittent voice-over narration by Walter Pidgeon in the role of "Clem Miniver."
Hollywood Reporter news items note that Garson suggested the basic idea for the story of the sequel, and that producer Sidney Franklin assigned British novelist and playwright Harold Millar to write the screenplay. The film was shot entirely at M-G-M's Elstree Studios, in England. H. C. Potter directed the film until late January 1950, when he was replaced by Victor Saville, who did not receive a screen credit. The substitution was made as part of M-G-M's compliance with British labor laws, which did not allow non-British subjects to work in Britain for more than 180 days. For more information on the studio's productions at Elstree, please see the entry above for Edward, My Son. Although The Miniver Story was completed under Saville's direction, Potter returned to England to direct the retakes. Actress Cathy O'Donnell was borrowed from Selznick Productions fror the picture.
The film marked the American motion picture debut of actor Peter Finch (1916-1977). Finch, who was born in Australia, began appearing in films in his native country in 1936. After moving to England, he appeared in a number of British productions before and after World War II, then went to Hollywood in the early 1950s, where he worked at M-G-M and other studios. Throughout the 1960s and 1970s, Finch appeared in many American, British and international co-productions. His final feature was Network (1977), for which he earned an Academy Award for Best Actor, awarded posthumously. The Miniver Story also marked the film debut of British actor James Fox, who portrayed young "Toby Miniver" and was billed as William Fox on this and several other films in the early 1950s.
The Miniver Story received mostly unfavorable reviews at the time of its release and performed poorly at the box office. The New York Times reviewer noted that "'Mrs. Miniver'...finally succumbs to cancer and the painful inadequacies of her script in Metro's post-war sequel." The reviewer also wrote that "the only poignant thing about this picture is the reduction to such a sorry state of a character whom we hold in special memory. It is just well that she has died."