Mrs. Miniver


2h 14m 1942
Mrs. Miniver

Brief Synopsis

A British family struggles to survive the first days of World War II.

Photos & Videos

Mrs. Miniver - Behind-the-Scenes Photos
Mrs. Miniver - Kapralik Trade Ad
Mrs. Miniver - Publicity Art

Film Details

Genre
Drama
War
Adaptation
Classic Hollywood
Release Date
Jan 1942
Premiere Information
New York opening: 4 Jun 1942; Los Angeles opening: 22 Jul 1942
Production Company
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Corp.
Distribution Company
Loew's Inc.
Country
United States
Screenplay Information
Based on the novel Mrs. Miniver by Jan Struther (London, 1939).

Technical Specs

Duration
2h 14m
Sound
Mono (Western Electric Sound System)
Color
Black and White
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.37 : 1
Film Length
12,026 or 12,168ft (14 reels)

Synopsis

In early summer 1939, middle-class English housewife Kay Miniver happily returns from a London shopping trip to Belham, the Thames Valley village in which she lives, and is flattered that station master Ballard has named his newly propagated rose after her. That night, Kay feels slightly guilty over buying an expensive hat, while her architect-husband Clem feels the same way about his new sportscar. When they eventually confess their respective purchases, they laugh, happy in the knowledge that they can now afford some of life's little luxuries. The next day, Kay and Clem welcome home their eldest child Vin, who has returned home for the summer holiday and is a bit pompous after his year at Oxford. Vin embarrasses his parents when he insults Carol Beldon, granddaughter of local aristocrat Lady Beldon, when Carol comes to ask Kay to influence Ballard to withdraw his rose from competing against Lady Beldon's in the annual flower show.

At a dance that night, Carol receives a secret message from Vin asking her to meet him. The two confess their mutual attraction and promise to write to each other while Carol and her grandmother are away in Scotland. Some weeks later, concern over the fall of Poland dominates village conversations, and at church on Sunday, the vicar's sermon is interrupted by news that England is now at war with Germany. While Clem, Kay and their two youngest children, Toby and Judy, return home, Vin goes to the Beldon estate to make certain that the newly returned Carol and her grandmother are adequately prepared. Although Lady Beldon at first refuses to take seriously new air raid regulations, Vin takes charge of the situation. He and Carol also come to an "agreement" about their relationship and kiss for the first time.

Eight months later, after Vin has left school to join the RAF, the Minivers, like others in the village, have made accommodations for the war, but have yet to seriously feel its effects. In the pub, the locals laugh at the radio admonitions of the traitor Lord Haw Haw that England will soon fall, and discuss a German pilot who parachuted out of his plane and may be hiding near the village. That night, Vin proposes to Carol, much to the delight of Clem and Kay. Immediately thereafter, Vin is ordered back to his airbase, and in the middle of the night, Clem, a member of the Thames River patrol, is awakened and told to meet at the pub. Like the other local boat-owners, Clem is at first amused and somewhat irritated by the call-up, but soon finds that his is one of thousands of privately owned, seaworthy crafts needed to evacuate stranded British soldiers from Dunkerque, France.

Five days later, Kay's only news of what Vin and Clem may be doing comes from the papers. When she goes for a stroll in her garden one morning, she sees the boots of the missing German pilot. Unable to get the sleeping flyer's gun away, she rushes to the house, but he forces his way into her kitchen and holds her at gunpoint while she brings him food. Weakened from his wounds, the flyer collapses and Kay is able to take his revolver and call for help. Before the police arrive, though, the German bitterly tells Kay that England will soon fall, just as Holland and Poland did, and she slaps him. After the police take the flyer away, Clem returns in his badly damaged boat, unharmed, but exhausted from his ordeal, and soon they learn that Vin, too, is safe.

A short time later, Vin and Carol marry, after Kay convinces Lady Beldon that the couple are right for each other. One night, while Carol and Vin are on their honeymoon, Clem, Kay, Judy and Toby retreat to their bomb shelter while an air battle rages overhead. As the children sleep, Kay calmly knits and Clem reads until the bombing becomes so fierce that the children awaken, crying, and the family fearfully huddles together, realizing that their house has been hit. When Carol and Vin return from their honeymoon, they are shocked by the bomb damage, but Kay and Clem shrug off the partial destruction of their home and look forward to going to the annual flower show. At the show, Lady Beldon is secretly informed that she has won the competition, but when Kay helps her to realize that the judges chose her rose over Ballard's more worthy flower because of her position in the village, Lady Beldon announces that Ballard has won the prize. The show is then interrupted by an air raid warning. As Kay drives Carol home, they are heartsick at the destruction they see. When a plane dives toward them, Kay thinks that the car has been hit but soon realizes that Carol has been badly wounded. Kay is able to get Carol home, but she dies before medical help can arrive.

On Sunday morning, in the badly damaged village church, the vicar sadly talks of those who have died, including Carol and Ballard. As the vicar reads from the Ninety-First Psalm, Vin goes to Lady Beldon's pew to comfort her, and more British planes take to the air.

Cast

Greer Garson

Mrs. [Kay] Miniver

Walter Pidgeon

Clem Miniver

Teresa Wright

Carol Beldon

Dame May Whitty

Lady Beldon

Reginald Owen

Foley

Henry Travers

Mr. Ballard

Richard Ney

Vin Miniver

Christopher Severn

Toby Miniver

Henry Wilcoxon

Vicar

Brenda Forbes

Gladys "Housemaid"

Clare Sandars

Judy Miniver

Marie De Becker

Ada

Helmut Dantine

German flyer

John Abbott

Fred

Connie Leon

Simpson

Rhys Williams

Horace

Paul Scardon

Nobby

Ben Webster

Ginger

Aubrey Mather

George, innkeeper

Forrester Harvey

Huggins

Billy Bevan

Conductor

Florence Wix

Woman with dog

Bobby Hale

Old man

Alice Monk

Passenger

Ottola Nesmith

Saleslady

Douglas Gordon

Porter

Miles Mander

Voice of Lord Haw Haw

Gerald Oliver Smith

Car dealer

Alec Craig

Joe

Clara Reid

Mrs. Huggins

Harry Allen

William

Leslie Vincent

Dancing partner

John Burton

Halliday

Leonard Carey

Lady Beldon's butler

Eric Lonsdale

Marston

Guy Bellis

Barman

Charles Irwin

Mac

Ian Wolfe

Dentist

Dave Thursby

Farmer

Charles Bennett

Milkman

Arthur Wimperis

Sir Henry

Sidney Franklin

Man at flower show

David Clyde

Carruthers

Colin Campbell

Bickles

Herbert Clifton

Doctor

Leslie Francis

Doctor

Frank Baker

Policeman

Leslie Sketchley

Policeman

Emerson Fisher-smith

Policeman

Colin Kenny

Policeman

Dave Dunbar

Man in store

Art Berry Sr.

Man in store

Sid D'albrook

Man in store

Gene Byram

Glee club member

Virginia Bassett

Glee club member

Aileen Carlyle

Glee club member

Irene Denny

Glee club member

Herbert Evans

Glee club member

Eula Morgan

Glee club member

Vernon Steele

Glee club member

Vivie Steele

Glee club member

Marek Windheim

Glee club member

Tudor Williams

Glee club member

Kitty Watson

Contestant

Hugh Greenwood

Contestant

Sybil Bacon

Contestant

Florence Benson

Contestant

Harold Howard

Judge

Billy Engle

Townsman

Louise Bates

Miniver guest

Edward Cooper

Waiter

Walter Byron

Man in tavern

Ted Billings

Man in tavern

Dan Maxwell

Man in tavern

Frank Atkinson

Man in tavern

Henry King

Man in tavern

Gil Perkins

Man in tavern

John Power

Man in tavern

Thomas Louden

Mr. Verger

Peter Lawford

Pilot

Stanley Mann

Workman

Photo Collections

Mrs. Miniver - Behind-the-Scenes Photos
Here are a number of photos taken behind-the-scenes during production of William Wyler's Mrs. Miniver (1942), starring Greer Garson and Walter Pidgeon.
Mrs. Miniver - Kapralik Trade Ad
Here is a trade ad for MGM's Mrs. Miniver (1942), starring Greer Garson and Walter Pidgeon. The art is by mixed-media caricaturist Jaques Kapralik. Trade Ads were placed by studios in industry magazines like Variety and The Hollywood Reporter.
Mrs. Miniver - Publicity Art
Here is advertising art created by MGM to publicize Mrs. Miniver (1942), starring Greer Garson and Walter Pidgeon.
Mrs. Miniver - Movie Posters
Here are a few original release American movie posters from Mrs. Miniver (1942), starring Greer Garson and Walter Pidgeon.

Videos

Movie Clip

Mrs. Miniver (1942) - Your Destination Is Dunkirk With neighbors in the local river patrol in south-eastern England, Clem Miniver (Walter Pidgeon) finds out that they’ve been summoned from their beds to take part in the evacuation of the trapped British force from Dunkirk, France, 1940, a rousing moment from MGM’s Mrs. Miniver, 1942.
Mrs. Miniver (1942) - The Most Beautiful Rose The third scene, England, 1939, Greer Garson (title character) arrives at the fictional Kentish village of Belham after shopping in London, where the station master Ballard (Henry Travers) has a query and a tribute, a key moment in William Wyler’s wartime morale booster Mrs. Miniver, 1942.
Mrs. Miniver (1942) - Orders From The Manor Young Vin (Richard Ney) is home from Oxford holding forth for mum and dad (Greer Garson, title character, and Walter Pidgeon) when Teresa Wright as Carol, born to the local nobility, introduces herself, worried about the flower show, a pre-war vignette from William Wyler’s Mrs. Miniver, 1942.
Mrs. Miniver (1942) - Our Country Is At War News of England’s entry into WWII during Sunday services, the Minivers (Greer Garson, Walter Pidgeon, Richard Ney, Christopher Severn, Clare Sanders), pleased to see Carol (Teresa Wright) with Lady Beldon (Dame May Whitty), as the vicar (Henry Wilcoxon) speaks, in Mrs. Miniver, 1942.
Mrs. Miniver (1942) - I Shoot! Her son with the RAF and husband with the civilian nautical force evacuating Dunkirk, Greer Garson (title character) at home in England finds a downed German flier (Viennese Helmut Dantine, in his first credited role) in the garden, a famous scene from the Best Picture winner Mrs. Miniver, 1942.

Trailer

Hosted Intro

Film Details

Genre
Drama
War
Adaptation
Classic Hollywood
Release Date
Jan 1942
Premiere Information
New York opening: 4 Jun 1942; Los Angeles opening: 22 Jul 1942
Production Company
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Corp.
Distribution Company
Loew's Inc.
Country
United States
Screenplay Information
Based on the novel Mrs. Miniver by Jan Struther (London, 1939).

Technical Specs

Duration
2h 14m
Sound
Mono (Western Electric Sound System)
Color
Black and White
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.37 : 1
Film Length
12,026 or 12,168ft (14 reels)

Award Wins

Best Actress

1942
Greer Garson

Best Cinematography

1942

Best Director

1942
William Wyler

Best Picture

1942

Best Screenplay

1942

Best Supporting Actress

1942
Teresa Wright

Award Nominations

Best Actor

1942
Walter Pidgeon

Best Editing

1942
Harold F Kress

Best Sound

1942

Best Special Effects

1943

Best Supporting Actor

1942
Henry Travers

Articles

Mrs. Miniver - Mrs. Miniver


Winston Churchill is said to have written MGM studio head Louis B. Mayer that Mrs. Miniver (1942), a paean to the courage of British families during the dark days of World War II, was "propaganda worth a hundred battleships." The film, based on the novel by Jan Struther, was started when much of America favored isolationism - but while it was still in production, Japan bombed Pearl Harbor, changing most American minds and turning Mrs. Miniver into the year's hottest property. Audiences around the world were inspired by Greer Garson and Walter Pidgeon as the stalwart British couple enduring the London Blitz. MGM's foreign office announced that the film was breaking box-office records formerly held by Gone With the Wind (1939) everywhere from Cairo to Buenos Aires.

Norma Shearer had been Mayer's first choice for the all-important title role in Mrs. Miniver, but Shearer, at 39, was not thrilled with the prospect of playing a woman with a grown son. Neither was second choice Ann Harding. Garson, Mayer's protege and a hit in her first MGM film, Goodbye, Mr. Chips (1939), had the same reservations since she was only 33 when Mrs. Miniver was being cast. Mayer convinced her to accept the role after performing the entire script, playing all the roles himself and leading Garson to later remark that he played Mrs. Miniver much better than she. During filming, Garson fell in love with nine-years-younger Richard Ney, the actor cast as her grown son. Mayer persuaded the couple to wait until the film had played through its first run before being wed; their marriage lasted four years.

Mrs. Miniver racked up 12 Academy Award nominations and won six Oscars including Best Picture, Director (William Wyler), Actress (Garson) and Supporting Actress (Teresa Wright), plus an Irving G. Thalberg Memorial Award to the film's producer, Sidney Franklin. Garson, who emerged from the film as MGM's biggest female star, entered Oscar lore with her acceptance speech, which began "I am practically unprepared." She rambled on for several minutes, leaving one wit to observe that her speech was "longer than her performance." As the legend grew, some witnesses with faulty memories claimed that she spoke for over an hour.

Director: William Wyler
Producers: Sidney Franklin, William Wyler
Screenplay: George Froeschel, James Hilton, Claudine West, Arthur Wimperis, from novel by Jan Struther
Art Direction: Cedric Gibbons, Urie McCleary
Costume Design: Robert Kalloch
Cinematography: Joseph Ruttenberg
Editing: Harold F. Kress
Original Music: Herbert Stothart
Principal Cast: Greer Garson (Kay Miniver), Walter Pidgeon (Clem Miniver), Teresa Wright (Carol Beldon), Dame May Whitty (Lady Beldon), Reginald Owen (Foley), Henry Travers (Mr. Ballard), Richard Ney (Vin Miniver), Henry Wilcoxon (Vicar).
BW-134m. Close captioning. Descriptive video.

by Roger Fristoe
Mrs. Miniver  - Mrs. Miniver

Mrs. Miniver - Mrs. Miniver

Winston Churchill is said to have written MGM studio head Louis B. Mayer that Mrs. Miniver (1942), a paean to the courage of British families during the dark days of World War II, was "propaganda worth a hundred battleships." The film, based on the novel by Jan Struther, was started when much of America favored isolationism - but while it was still in production, Japan bombed Pearl Harbor, changing most American minds and turning Mrs. Miniver into the year's hottest property. Audiences around the world were inspired by Greer Garson and Walter Pidgeon as the stalwart British couple enduring the London Blitz. MGM's foreign office announced that the film was breaking box-office records formerly held by Gone With the Wind (1939) everywhere from Cairo to Buenos Aires. Norma Shearer had been Mayer's first choice for the all-important title role in Mrs. Miniver, but Shearer, at 39, was not thrilled with the prospect of playing a woman with a grown son. Neither was second choice Ann Harding. Garson, Mayer's protege and a hit in her first MGM film, Goodbye, Mr. Chips (1939), had the same reservations since she was only 33 when Mrs. Miniver was being cast. Mayer convinced her to accept the role after performing the entire script, playing all the roles himself and leading Garson to later remark that he played Mrs. Miniver much better than she. During filming, Garson fell in love with nine-years-younger Richard Ney, the actor cast as her grown son. Mayer persuaded the couple to wait until the film had played through its first run before being wed; their marriage lasted four years. Mrs. Miniver racked up 12 Academy Award nominations and won six Oscars including Best Picture, Director (William Wyler), Actress (Garson) and Supporting Actress (Teresa Wright), plus an Irving G. Thalberg Memorial Award to the film's producer, Sidney Franklin. Garson, who emerged from the film as MGM's biggest female star, entered Oscar lore with her acceptance speech, which began "I am practically unprepared." She rambled on for several minutes, leaving one wit to observe that her speech was "longer than her performance." As the legend grew, some witnesses with faulty memories claimed that she spoke for over an hour. Director: William Wyler Producers: Sidney Franklin, William Wyler Screenplay: George Froeschel, James Hilton, Claudine West, Arthur Wimperis, from novel by Jan Struther Art Direction: Cedric Gibbons, Urie McCleary Costume Design: Robert Kalloch Cinematography: Joseph Ruttenberg Editing: Harold F. Kress Original Music: Herbert Stothart Principal Cast: Greer Garson (Kay Miniver), Walter Pidgeon (Clem Miniver), Teresa Wright (Carol Beldon), Dame May Whitty (Lady Beldon), Reginald Owen (Foley), Henry Travers (Mr. Ballard), Richard Ney (Vin Miniver), Henry Wilcoxon (Vicar). BW-134m. Close captioning. Descriptive video. by Roger Fristoe

Teresa Wright (1918-2005)


Teresa Wright, a talented, Oscar&-winning leading lady of the '40s, and in later life, a versatile character player, died on March 6 at a New Haven, Connecticut hospital of a heart attack. She was 86.

She was born Muriel Teresa Wright in New York City on October 27, 1918. She showed a keen interest in acting in grade school, and by the time she was 19, she made her Broadway debut in Thorton Wilder's Our Town (1938); the following year she scored a hit as Mary, the weeping ingénue in Life with Father (1939). The word was out that New York had a superb young acting talent on hand, and Samuel Goldwyn soon brought her to Hollywood for William Wyler's adaptation of Lillian Hellman's The Little Foxes (1941). She scored an Oscar® nomination for her film debut as Regina Giddens' (Bette Davis), honorable daughter, Alexandria.

She maintained her amazing momentum by scoring two Oscar® nominations the following year for her next two films: as Carol Miniver in Wyler's Mrs. Miniver (Best Supporting Actress Category), and as Lou Gehrig's (Gary Cooper) faithful wife Ellie in Pride of the Yankees (Best Actress Category), and won the Oscar for Miniver. Yet for most fans of Wright's work, her finest hour remains her perfectly modulated performance as young Charlie in Alfred Hitchcock's masterpiece, Shadow of a Doubt (1943). Wright's performance as the self-effacing, impressionable young niece who gradually realizes that her beloved uncle (Joseph Cotton) may have murdered several widows is effective since Wright's air of observation, subtly turns from idol gazing, to a watchful air of caution as the facts slowly being to unravel. 60 years on, fans of Hitchcock still acclaim Wright's performance as an integral part of the film's classic status.

She proved her talents in comedy with the delightful Casanova Brown (1944), but then saw her schedule slow down due to domesticity. After she married screenwriter Niven Busch in 1942, she gave birth to son, Niven Jr., in 1944, and took two years off to look after her family. She soon returned to film with another Wyler project, the Oscar®-winning, post war drama, The Best Years of Our Lives (1946), playing Fredric March's level-headed daughter, Peggy, she again took some time off after giving birth to her daughter, Mary in 1947. On her second attempt to return to the big screen, Wright found her popularity on the wane. Her wholesome image was in sharp contrast of the tougher, more modern women in post-war Hollywood, and her stubborn refusal to pose for any swimsuit or cheesecake photos to alter her image led to her release from Sam Goldwyn's contract.

As a freelance actress, Wright still found some good roles, notably as a young widow in the thriller scripted by her husband, in The Capture; and as a faithful fiancée trying to help Marlin Brandon deal with his amputation in Stanley Kramer's The Men (both 1950). Yet within a few years, she was playing middle-aged mothers in film like The Actress (1953), and The Track of the Cat (1954), even though she was still in her early '30s. By the mid-50s she found work in live television, where she could apply her stage training, in a number of acclaimed shows: Playhouse 90, General Electric Theater, Four Star Playhouse, and The United States Steel Hour.

She took a break from acting when she married her second husband, the playwright Robert Anderson in 1959, (she had divorced her first husband, Busch, in 1952) and was out of the public eye for several decades, save for an isolated theater appearance. When she did return, it was intermittent, but she was always worth watching. In James Ivory's Roseland (1977), a portrait of the New York dancehall; she was poignant as a talkative widow obsessed with her late husband; and as an enigmatic old actress in Somewhere in Time, she nearly stole the picture from leads, Christopher Reeve and Jayne Seymour. She was still active in the '90s, appearing a few hit shows: Murder, She Wrote, Picket Fences; and a final film role in John Grisham's The Rainmaker (1997). She is survived by her son, Niven; daughter, Mary; and two grandchildren.

by Michael T. Toole

Teresa Wright (1918-2005)

Teresa Wright, a talented, Oscar&-winning leading lady of the '40s, and in later life, a versatile character player, died on March 6 at a New Haven, Connecticut hospital of a heart attack. She was 86. She was born Muriel Teresa Wright in New York City on October 27, 1918. She showed a keen interest in acting in grade school, and by the time she was 19, she made her Broadway debut in Thorton Wilder's Our Town (1938); the following year she scored a hit as Mary, the weeping ingénue in Life with Father (1939). The word was out that New York had a superb young acting talent on hand, and Samuel Goldwyn soon brought her to Hollywood for William Wyler's adaptation of Lillian Hellman's The Little Foxes (1941). She scored an Oscar® nomination for her film debut as Regina Giddens' (Bette Davis), honorable daughter, Alexandria. She maintained her amazing momentum by scoring two Oscar® nominations the following year for her next two films: as Carol Miniver in Wyler's Mrs. Miniver (Best Supporting Actress Category), and as Lou Gehrig's (Gary Cooper) faithful wife Ellie in Pride of the Yankees (Best Actress Category), and won the Oscar for Miniver. Yet for most fans of Wright's work, her finest hour remains her perfectly modulated performance as young Charlie in Alfred Hitchcock's masterpiece, Shadow of a Doubt (1943). Wright's performance as the self-effacing, impressionable young niece who gradually realizes that her beloved uncle (Joseph Cotton) may have murdered several widows is effective since Wright's air of observation, subtly turns from idol gazing, to a watchful air of caution as the facts slowly being to unravel. 60 years on, fans of Hitchcock still acclaim Wright's performance as an integral part of the film's classic status. She proved her talents in comedy with the delightful Casanova Brown (1944), but then saw her schedule slow down due to domesticity. After she married screenwriter Niven Busch in 1942, she gave birth to son, Niven Jr., in 1944, and took two years off to look after her family. She soon returned to film with another Wyler project, the Oscar®-winning, post war drama, The Best Years of Our Lives (1946), playing Fredric March's level-headed daughter, Peggy, she again took some time off after giving birth to her daughter, Mary in 1947. On her second attempt to return to the big screen, Wright found her popularity on the wane. Her wholesome image was in sharp contrast of the tougher, more modern women in post-war Hollywood, and her stubborn refusal to pose for any swimsuit or cheesecake photos to alter her image led to her release from Sam Goldwyn's contract. As a freelance actress, Wright still found some good roles, notably as a young widow in the thriller scripted by her husband, in The Capture; and as a faithful fiancée trying to help Marlin Brandon deal with his amputation in Stanley Kramer's The Men (both 1950). Yet within a few years, she was playing middle-aged mothers in film like The Actress (1953), and The Track of the Cat (1954), even though she was still in her early '30s. By the mid-50s she found work in live television, where she could apply her stage training, in a number of acclaimed shows: Playhouse 90, General Electric Theater, Four Star Playhouse, and The United States Steel Hour. She took a break from acting when she married her second husband, the playwright Robert Anderson in 1959, (she had divorced her first husband, Busch, in 1952) and was out of the public eye for several decades, save for an isolated theater appearance. When she did return, it was intermittent, but she was always worth watching. In James Ivory's Roseland (1977), a portrait of the New York dancehall; she was poignant as a talkative widow obsessed with her late husband; and as an enigmatic old actress in Somewhere in Time, she nearly stole the picture from leads, Christopher Reeve and Jayne Seymour. She was still active in the '90s, appearing a few hit shows: Murder, She Wrote, Picket Fences; and a final film role in John Grisham's The Rainmaker (1997). She is survived by her son, Niven; daughter, Mary; and two grandchildren. by Michael T. Toole

Mrs. Miniver on DVD


Winston Churchill is said to have written MGM studio head Louis B. Mayer that Mrs. Miniver (1942), a paean to the courage of British families during the dark days of World War II, was "propaganda worth a hundred battleships." The film - now on DVD from Warner Video is based on the novel by Jan Struther and was started when much of America favored isolationism. But while it was still in production, Japan bombed Pearl Harbor, changing most American minds and turning Mrs. Miniver into the year's hottest property. Audiences around the world were inspired by Greer Garson and Walter Pidgeon as the stalwart British couple enduring the London Blitz. MGM's foreign office announced that the film was breaking box-office records formerly held by Gone With the Wind (1939) everywhere from Cairo to Buenos Aires.

Norma Shearer had been Mayer's first choice for the all-important title role in Mrs. Miniver, but Shearer, at 39, was not thrilled with the prospect of playing a woman with a grown son. Neither was second choice Ann Harding. Garson, Mayer's protege and a hit in her first MGM film, Goodbye, Mr. Chips (1939), had the same reservations since she was only 33 when Mrs. Miniver was being cast. Mayer convinced her to accept the role after performing the entire script, playing all the roles himself and leading Garson to later remark that he played Mrs. Miniver much better than she. During filming, Garson fell in love with nine-years-younger Richard Ney, the actor cast as her grown son. Mayer persuaded the couple to wait until the film had played through its first run before being wed; their marriage lasted four years.

Mrs. Miniver racked up 12 Academy Award nominations and won six Oscars® including Best Picture, Director (William Wyler), Actress (Garson) and Supporting Actress (Teresa Wright), plus an Irving G. Thalberg Memorial Award to the film's producer, Sidney Franklin. Garson, who emerged from the film as MGM's biggest female star, entered Oscar lore with her acceptance speech, which began "I am practically unprepared." She rambled on for several minutes, leaving one wit to observe that her speech was "longer than her performance." As the legend grew, some witnesses with faulty memories claimed that she spoke for over an hour.

The Warner Video DVD of Mrs. Miniver is a sharp black and white transfer with only a few minor print scratches. The extras are in perfect keeping with the patriotic tone of the main feature. "For the Common Defense" is a short subject from the "Crime Doesn't Pay" series and stars Van Johnson and John Litel as U.S. agents in South America trying to shut down a counterfeit ring; the culprits are funneling money to the enemy (German and Japan). The other short, "Mr. Blabbermouth!", is a more blatant example of a pro-American propaganda short from the period with the title character presenting a major security risk to our homeland. Full of racial slurs and sledgehammer message-mongering, it's an intriguing relic from the World War II era. Also on the disk is footage of Greer Garson at the Academy Awards and a photo gallery.

For more information about Mrs. Miniver, visit Warner Video. To order Mrs. Miniver, go to TCM Shopping.

By Roger Fristoe

Mrs. Miniver on DVD

Winston Churchill is said to have written MGM studio head Louis B. Mayer that Mrs. Miniver (1942), a paean to the courage of British families during the dark days of World War II, was "propaganda worth a hundred battleships." The film - now on DVD from Warner Video is based on the novel by Jan Struther and was started when much of America favored isolationism. But while it was still in production, Japan bombed Pearl Harbor, changing most American minds and turning Mrs. Miniver into the year's hottest property. Audiences around the world were inspired by Greer Garson and Walter Pidgeon as the stalwart British couple enduring the London Blitz. MGM's foreign office announced that the film was breaking box-office records formerly held by Gone With the Wind (1939) everywhere from Cairo to Buenos Aires. Norma Shearer had been Mayer's first choice for the all-important title role in Mrs. Miniver, but Shearer, at 39, was not thrilled with the prospect of playing a woman with a grown son. Neither was second choice Ann Harding. Garson, Mayer's protege and a hit in her first MGM film, Goodbye, Mr. Chips (1939), had the same reservations since she was only 33 when Mrs. Miniver was being cast. Mayer convinced her to accept the role after performing the entire script, playing all the roles himself and leading Garson to later remark that he played Mrs. Miniver much better than she. During filming, Garson fell in love with nine-years-younger Richard Ney, the actor cast as her grown son. Mayer persuaded the couple to wait until the film had played through its first run before being wed; their marriage lasted four years. Mrs. Miniver racked up 12 Academy Award nominations and won six Oscars® including Best Picture, Director (William Wyler), Actress (Garson) and Supporting Actress (Teresa Wright), plus an Irving G. Thalberg Memorial Award to the film's producer, Sidney Franklin. Garson, who emerged from the film as MGM's biggest female star, entered Oscar lore with her acceptance speech, which began "I am practically unprepared." She rambled on for several minutes, leaving one wit to observe that her speech was "longer than her performance." As the legend grew, some witnesses with faulty memories claimed that she spoke for over an hour. The Warner Video DVD of Mrs. Miniver is a sharp black and white transfer with only a few minor print scratches. The extras are in perfect keeping with the patriotic tone of the main feature. "For the Common Defense" is a short subject from the "Crime Doesn't Pay" series and stars Van Johnson and John Litel as U.S. agents in South America trying to shut down a counterfeit ring; the culprits are funneling money to the enemy (German and Japan). The other short, "Mr. Blabbermouth!", is a more blatant example of a pro-American propaganda short from the period with the title character presenting a major security risk to our homeland. Full of racial slurs and sledgehammer message-mongering, it's an intriguing relic from the World War II era. Also on the disk is footage of Greer Garson at the Academy Awards and a photo gallery. For more information about Mrs. Miniver, visit Warner Video. To order Mrs. Miniver, go to TCM Shopping. By Roger Fristoe

Quotes

I know how comfortable it is to curl up with a nice, fat book full of big words and think you're going to solve all the problems of the universe. But you're not, you know. A bit of action is required now and then.
- Carol Beldon
She was a good cook, as good cooks go. And as good cooks go, she went.
- Clem Miniver
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.
- Vicar
I think it's lovely having flowers named after you.
- Kay Miniver

Trivia

Winston Churchill once said that this film had done more for the war effort than a flotilla of destroyers.

Greer Garson's Best Actress acceptance speech lasted an incredible 5 1/2 minutes, making it a Hollywood record.

After first-choice Norma Shearer rejected the title role (as she refused to play a mother), Greer Garson was cast. Although he didn't want the part either and was contractually bound to take it, she won the Academy Award for her performance.

Greer Garson married Richard Ney who played her son in the movie!

The "vicar's speech" near the end was reportedly re-written by William Wyler and Henry Wilcoxon the night before it was shot. It was translated into various languages and air-dropped in leaflets over German-occupied territory, and was broadcast over the Voice of America at Pres. Roosevelt's request.

First movie to receive five acting nominations at the Academy Awards.

Notes

The film's written prologue reads: "This story of an average English middle-class family begins with the summer of 1939; when the sun shone down on a happy, careless people, who worked and played, reared their children and tended their gardens in that happy, easy-going England that was so soon to be fighting desperately for her way of life and for life itself." January Struther's novel was compiled from stories she initially published in The Times (London) in 1938 and 1939. These stories were used more as a the basis for the characters in the film, rather than the plot, and were described as semi-autobiographical in some contemporary sources. As noted in Los Angeles Daily News, among other sources, "If January Struther contributed no plot on which to work, the mood and characters of her book provide inspiration for a picture of middle class British courage under the stress of war."
       Hollywood Reporter news items, the story file on the film in the USC Cinema-Television Library, the William Wyler Collection at the UCLA Arts-Special Collections Library and other contemporary materials in the file on the film in the AMPAS Library reveal the following information on the production: M-G-M purchased the rights to Struther's novel in early October 1940, intending it to become a a starring vehicle for Greer Garson. At that time, James Hilton and R. C. Sherriff were announced as the screenwriters. One news item in March 1941 noted, however, that the film might star either Garson or Norma Shearer. Although actress Mary Field is included in the CBCS as "Miss Spriggins," neither she nor that role were in the released film. Actors Pat O'Hara, Elspeth Dudgeon, Dennis Chaldecott and Eric Snowden were cast in the picture, according to Hollywood Reporter news items, but their appearance in the released film has not been confirmed.
       According to various Hollywood Reporter news items, the film's Los Angeles premiere was held to benefit the Volunteer Army Canteen Services, and Thrifty Drugstores, a local Southern California chain, distributed 30,000 free copies of the film's finale, "the vicar's speech," to their customers. Some modern sources have suggested that Wyler and actor Henry Wilcoxen, who portrayed "The vicar," rewrote the speech, which essentially addresses the audience, during filming. According to studio records, Mrs. Miniver's negative cost was $1,344,000 and it grossed $8,878,000, yielding a $4,831,000 profit for the studio. Actor Richard Ney (1927-2004), who played "Vin Miniver," made his motion picture debut in the film. Ney and Garson married in 1943 and divorced in 1947. Ney abandoned his acting career in the early 1960s to became a financial advisor. He also authored the best-selling 1970 investment bible The Wall Street Jungle.
       Many contemporary and modern sources have commented on the propaganda value of Mrs. Miniver in the British war effort, and the part the film played in swaying American public opinion into stronger support for Britain as the United States entered World War II. Hollywood Reporter news items and ads noted that Lord Halifax, British Ambassador to the U.S., sent a congratulatory telegram to Wyler, stating that the film "portrays the life that people live in England today in a way that cannot fail to move all that see it. I hope that this picture will bring home to the American public that the average Englishman is a good partner to have in time of trouble." British newspaper mogul and cabinet member Lord Beaverbrook expressed similar sentiments, as well as praising the film as a morale boost for England.
       A news item in the Daily Telegraph (London) recorded an often repeated quotation attributed to British Prime Minister Winston Churchill that the effect of the film on "public sentiment in the USA was worth a whole regiment" during World War II. A Gallup poll, conducted in September 1942, indicated that among those Americans who had seen Mrs. Miniver, the Twentieth-Century Fox film This Above All and the Universal picture Eagle Squadron ( and below), which all opened in early summer 1942, 17% more were favorable toward the British than those who had not seen the films. A March 1943 Hollywood Reporter news item noted that M-G-M head Louis B. Mayer was asked by President Franklin Roosevelt and Churchill to show the film specifically to help the war effort.
       The film earned six Academy Awards, for Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actress (Garson), Supporting Actress (Teresa Wright), Adapted Screenplay and Cinematography. The picture received six additional nominations, Best Actor (Walter Pidgeon), Best Supporting Actor (Henry Travers), Supporting Actress (Dame May Whitty), Adapted Screenplay, Film Editing, Sound and Special Effects. Wright was also nominated in the Best Actress category that year, for her performance in Pride of the Yankees. According to some modern sources on the history of the Academy Awards ceremonies, Garson's acceptance speech upon receiving her award was so lengthy that the Academy henceforth requested that recipients limit their remarks, but the official AMPAS publication on the Oscars notes that the length was considerably exaggerated and Garson was quoted as saying "...actually it clocked at about five-and-a-half minutes, but I...somewhat fractured a long-standing rule which was that a winner should simply say 'thank you' and then dissolve into a flood of tears and sit down." The history continues that the length of Garson's speech did not result in a time limit for acceptance speechs; time restrictions were not imposed until many years later, when the Awards ceremonies were broadcast live on television.
       The film received numerous "Best Film of the Year" honors from various publications and societies in the U.S. and abroad, including Showmen's Trade Reviews, Motion Picture Herald, Box Office, New York Times, The National Board of Review and Canadian Film Weekly. Many reviews highly praised the film, with trade and consumer publications almost unanimously commenting on its excellence. The Variety reviewed noted, "It's impossible to praise too highly Wyler's direction" and the Hollywood Reporter review stated, "A masterful film document...His [Wyler's] is a faultless work. New York Times review reads, in part, "It is hard to believe that a picture could be made within the heat of present strife which would clearly, but without a cry for vengeance, crystallize the cruel effect of total war upon a civilized people. Yet that is what has been magnificently done in Metro's Mrs. Miniver." The review in Look magazine stated, "The most important motion picture to come out of this war hasn't a single battle in it." British and Canadian reviews were equally positive.
       M-G-M made a sequel to the film in 1950. That film, called The Miniver Story, was directed by H. C. Potter in England and again starred Garson and Walter Pidgeon. The film picked up the story of the Miniver family after World War II. In 2002, Ysenda Maxtone Graham, the daughter of writer Anstruther, published a book entitled The Real Mrs. Miniver, in which she related the true story of her mother in relation to the highly fictionalized version of herself depicted in the Times articles and M-G-M movie.