Mrs. Miniver (1942)

8.0 Overall Score
Story: 7/10
Acting: 8/10
Visuals: 9/10

Some great looking scenes near the end, important film in history

Somewhat weak story and dated acting style is not for everyone

Movie Info

Movie Name:  Mrs. Miniver

Studio:  MGM

Genre(s):  Drama

Release Date(s):  June 4, 1942

MPAA Rating:  Not Rated


Honey, I thought only poor people die in war…

War is coming to England and everyone will be touched by it.  In Belham outside of London, the Minivers live a comfortable life.  Kay Miniver (Greer Garson) and her husband Clem (Walter Pidgeon) have a large estate with three children including their college bound son Vin (Richard Ney).  Class issues begin to change in Belham when war looms imminent and the people of Belham join together in the effort to fight the Germans.  Vin goes to war as a pilot leaving his love Carol Beldon (Teresa Wright) at home and Kay tries to keep the house’s spirits up with Clem also fighting the growing menace.

Directed by William Wyler, Mrs. Miniver is a World War II drama based on the 1940 novel by Jan Struther.  The movie was critically acclaimed and was meant to helped to change the American perspective of the war.  The film won Academy Awards for Outstanding Motion Picture, Best Director, Best Actress (Garson), Best Screenplay, Best Supporting Actress (Wright), and Best Cinematography—Black-and-White with nominations for Best Actor (Pidgeon), Best Supporting Actor (Henry Tavers), Supporting Actress (May Whitty), Best Special Effects, Best Film Editing, and Best Sound Recording.  The movie was entered in the National Film Registry by the Library of Congress.


Every time a rose dies, an angel goes to Hell

Mrs. Miniver was meant to be a propaganda piece.  When the film was being shot, America was still neutral in the fight against the Germans and the film aimed to show the “average” British citizens struggling with the rising danger.  Pearl Harbor occurred in 1941 which changed the tide of the war in America, but Mrs. Miniver still became a smash hit and aided in promoting the battling in Europe.

The story is rather cliché.  You have the young man in love heading to war and the strong mother holding down the fort.  There is a lot of talk about class and blending of classes for a common cause, but most of it seems like the rich pandering to the poor by giving them scraps of equality.


Suck it, Downton Abbey!

I had forgotten that Downton Abbey out-and-out stole a sequence of this film for its plotline.  A large portion of the movie involves the upperclass Lady Beldon (May Whitty) trying to keep her streak of winning a rose competition against the newly cultured “Mrs. Miniver” rose by Mr. Ballard (Henry Travers).  Beldon wins despite being the weaker rose due to her stature in the town but gives the award to Ballard.  Downton Abbey did this same story in an episode as an “homage”, but it seems less of an homage than stealing in this case since the series didn’t really change much.

The acting is strong, but it is 1940s strong.  It is a different style of acting than today and maybe not as “real” as some current viewers would expect or hope for at points.  The movie was the first movie capture all four acting award categories though it did not win them all and Greer Garson went down in Oscar history as the longest Oscar acceptance speech.


You know you totally jinxed yourself, Carol…

The visuals of the movie are rather strong and I really have to commend the last act of the film.  The final bombing and attack scene with Greer and Wright caught in the middle really does ratchet up the tension.  The use of lights and darks in the scene provide some great dynamic lighting and give a little more credit to the film in a scene that is actually rather powerful in a rather humdrum movie.

Mrs. Miniver isn’t the best “Best Picture” of all time, but it was a rather important picture in the history of film due to its ties to World War II and the United States.  Roosevelt triumphed the film and the inspirational speech at the end of the film was used as a rallying call in the United States and in Europe (called “The Wilcoxon Speech” from the actor Henry Wilcoxon).  Mrs. Miniver was followed by The Miniver Story in 1950 which continued the story of the Miniver family after the War.

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Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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