I should have been doing laundry, or starting to cut back the summer flowers on the patio, or sweeping the kitchen floor or keeping up with the Patriots game.
Instead, Mrs. Miniver came on TCM on Sunday afternoon and I was a goner. For those of you who haven’t seen it, well, just get yourself ready.
Now you all know how much I love Greer Garson after my review of Random Harvest on this site and three years after she made that movie, she made Mrs. Miniver. Released about 8 months after the US joins the second World War, the film was meant to illustrate the hardships that the English were enduring in the name of freedom. This movie has it all…
The movie opens in the summer of 1939 as Poland is invaded and where conversation on the branch line home centers around the “trouble coming”. Mrs. Miniver is agonizing over the purchase of a fetching hat while her husband, played by the stalwart Walter Pidgeon, is contemplating buying an equally fetching, large and fast automobile. They are a solidly middle class couple, living outside London and near an unnamed airfield and with access to the sea. Both details of location will figure prominently in the movie. Kate and Clem have 3 children, 2 younger school age and an older child who is home from Oxford full of “social conscience”. While he is home, he meets a local lass and joins the RAF all in one weekend it seems and his airfield is close enough that he can bring his laundry home to his mother. His now fiance lives nearby with her aunt, the lady of the local manor, played brilliantly by Dame May Whitty.
As if the constant air raid sirens, black out curtains and barrage balloons aren’t dramatic enough, we learn that there was a German plane shot down and the pilot is missing. And then at the same time, Mr. Miniver and his motor boat (remember close access to the sea) is pressed into service in the evacuation of the British Expeditionary Force from Dunkirk. Just when she starts to really fret about her husband and her son, who conveniently is flying a sortie at the same time, she finds the German pilot in her rose bushes and he holds her at gunpoint for milk and bread and then conveniently passes out. Local authorities retrieve him, husband returns safe and sound and word comes from son that he is safe. All before breakfast….
Greer Garson won the Oscar for her portrayal of Mrs. Miniver. The message went straight to the hearts of Americans and every single woman in the audience could understand Mrs. Miniver. There is great loss in the script, which I won’t give away, but which I will tell you will make you want to open a vein…They don’t write them like this anymore!