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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Mrs. Miniver
Theatrical release poster
Directed byWilliam Wyler
Screenplay by
Based onMrs. Miniver
1939 book (from newspaper column Mrs. Miniver)
by Jan Struther
Produced bySidney Franklin
Starring
CinematographyJoseph Ruttenberg
Edited byHarold F. Kress
Music by
Production
company
Distributed byLoew's Inc.
Release dates
Running time
133 minutes[1]
CountryUnited States
LanguageEnglish
Budget$1.34 million[2]
Box office$8.9 million[2]

Mrs. Miniver is a 1942 American romantic war drama film directed by William Wyler, and starring Greer Garson and Walter Pidgeon. Inspired by the 1940 novel Mrs. Miniver by Jan Struther,[3] it shows how the life of an unassuming British housewife in rural England is affected by World War II. Produced and distributed by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, its supporting cast includes Teresa Wright, May Whitty, Reginald Owen, Henry Travers, Richard Ney and Henry Wilcoxon.[4]

It was a critical and a commercial success, becoming the highest-grossing film of 1942 and winning six Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actress (Garson), and Best Supporting Actress (Teresa Wright).[5][6] It was the first film centered on World War II to win Best Picture, and the first to receive five acting nominations.[7] The film ranked 40th on the American Film Institute's list of most inspirational movies.

In 2009, the film was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant".

A sequel, The Miniver Story (1950) was made with Greer Garson and Walter Pidgeon reprising their roles.[4]

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Transcription

Plot

Kay Miniver lives a comfortable life in Belham, a fictional village outside London. Her devoted husband, Clem, is an architect. They have three children: the youngsters, Toby and Judy, and an older son, Vin, a student at Oxford University.

As World War II looms, Vin returns from university and meets Carol Beldon, granddaughter of Lady Beldon from nearby Beldon Hall. Despite initial disagreements, they fall in love. As the war comes closer to home, Vin enlists in the Royal Air Force, qualifying as a fighter pilot. He is posted to a base near his parents' home and can signal his safe return from operations to his parents by "blipping" his engine briefly as he flies over the house. Vin proposes to Carol in front of his family at home.

Together with other boat owners, Clem volunteers to take his motorboat, the Starling, to assist in the Dunkirk evacuation. Early one morning, Kay wanders down to the landing stage and discovers a wounded German pilot hiding in her garden. He takes her to the house at gunpoint, where she feeds him, calmly disarms him when he collapses, and calls the police. Soon after, Clem returns home, exhausted, from Dunkirk.

Lady Beldon visits Kay to try to convince her to talk Vin out of marrying Carol on account of her granddaughter's comparative youth at age eighteen and short engagement. Kay reminds her that she, too, had been young when she married her late husband. Lady Beldon concedes defeat. Carol marries Vin, becoming another Mrs. Miniver even though she fears Vin is likely to be killed in action. During an air raid, Kay and her family take refuge in their Anderson shelter in the garden and attempt to keep their minds off the bombing by reading Alice's Adventures in Wonderland. They narrowly survive as a bomb destroys part of the house. Vin and Carol return from their honeymoon in Scotland and see the damage to the house but Kay has arranged Vin's room for them.

At the annual village flower show, Lady Beldon disregards the judges' decision that her rose is the winner. Instead, she announces the rose entered by the local stationmaster, Mr. Ballard, named the "Mrs. Miniver", as the winner, with her own Beldon Rose taking second prize. As air raid sirens sound and the villagers take refuge in the cellars of Beldon Hall, Kay and Carol drive Vin to join his squadron. On their journey home, they see a German plane lose a dogfight and crash. Realizing Carol has been wounded by machine-gun fire from the plane, Kay takes her back to the house, where she dies.

The villagers assemble at the bomb-damaged church where their vicar affirms their determination in a sermon:

We in this quiet corner of England have suffered the loss of friends very dear to us, some close to this church. George West, choirboy. James Ballard, stationmaster and bellringer, and the proud winner only an hour before his death of the Beldon Cup for his beautiful Miniver Rose. And our hearts go out in sympathy to the two families who share the cruel loss of a young girl who was married at this altar only two weeks ago. The homes of many of us have been destroyed, and the lives of young and old have been taken. There's scarcely a household that hasn't been struck to the heart. And why? Surely, you must have asked yourselves this question? Why, in all conscience, should these be the ones to suffer? Children, old people, a young girl at the height of her loveliness? Why these? Are these our soldiers? Are these our fighters? Why should they be sacrificed?

I shall tell you why. Because this is not only a war of soldiers in uniform. It is the war of the people, of all the people. And it must be fought not only on the battlefield, but in the cities and in the villages, in the factories and on the farms, in the home and in the heart of every man, woman, and child who loves freedom. Well, we have buried our dead, but we shall not forget them. Instead, they will inspire us with an unbreakable determination to free ourselves, and those who come after us, from the tyranny and terror that threaten to strike us down. 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.

Lady Beldon stands alone in her family's church pew. Vin moves to stand alongside her, united in grief, as the members of the congregation sing "Onward, Christian Soldiers". Meanwhile, visible through the holes in the roof, RAF fighters in "V for Victory" formations depart to face the enemy.

Cast

Production

The film entered pre-production in the autumn of 1940, when the United States was still a neutral country. Over the several months the screenplay was written, the U.S. moved closer to war. As a result, scenes were rewritten to reflect Americans' more realistic view of the war. For example, the scene where Mrs. Miniver confronts a downed German pilot in her garden was made more confrontational in each revision.

Following the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor that brought the U.S. into the war, the garden scene was re-filmed to reflect the tough, new spirit of a nation at war. The key difference was that in the new version of the scene, filmed in February 1942, Mrs. Miniver was allowed to slap the pilot across the face. The film was released four months later.[9]

Wilcoxon and director William Wyler "wrote and re-wrote" the key sermon scene the night before it was shot.[10] The speech "made such an impact that it was used in essence by President Roosevelt as a morale builder and part of it was the basis for leaflets printed in various languages and dropped over enemy and occupied territory".[10] Roosevelt ordered the film rushed to the theaters for propaganda purposes.[11] The sermon dialogue was reprinted in Time and Look magazines.[12]

Reception

Alternate theatrical release poster

Critical response

Mrs. Miniver had a profound impact on British audiences. Historian Tony Judt wrote that it was "a very English tale of domestic fortitude and endurance, of middle-class reticence and perseverance, set symptomatically around the disaster at Dunkirk where all these qualities were taken to be most on display—[it] was a pure product of Hollywood. Yet for the English generation that first saw it the film would long remain the truest representation of national memory and self-image."[13]

On Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds an approval rating of 93% based on 69 reviews, with an average rating of 7.8/10. The website's critical consensus reads: "An excessively sentimental piece of propaganda, Mrs. Miniver nonetheless succeeds, due largely to Greer Garson's powerful performance."[14]

In 2006, the film was ranked No. 40 on the American Film Institute's list of the most inspiring American films of all time. In 2009, it was named to the National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as "culturally, historically, or aesthetically" significant:[15]

This remarkably touching wartime melodrama pictorials the classic British stiff upper lip and the courage of a middle-class English family (headed by Greer Garson and Walter Pidgeon) amid the chaos of air raids and family loss. The film's iconic tribute to the sacrifices on the home front, as movingly directed by William Wyler, did much to rally America's support for its British allies.[15]

Film critic Manny Farber writing in The New Republic registered this response to the picture:

Mrs. Miniver is about an English family which is prissy and fake like all screen families. The five Minivers are all very pretty and behave according to Will Hays and whoever wrote Little Lord Fauntleroy. Greer Garson makes motherhood seem the profession of impeccable taste and Walter Pidgeon acts the wise father by smoking a pipe, nodding his head knowingly and saying nothing…The older son is a mother’s delight from Oxford, and the two little Minivers make those irritating and unchildlike smart cracks because it’s the one device known these days for comedy relief in family pictures…the difference between these people and their originals in Jan Struther’s novel is the difference between marshmallows and human beings.[16]

Of the 592 critics polled by American magazine Film Daily, 555 named it the best film of 1942.[17]

Reactions to propaganda elements

Joseph Goebbels, minister of Nazi propaganda, wrote:

[Mrs. Miniver] shows the destiny of a family during the current war, and its refined powerful propagandistic tendency has up to now only been dreamed of. There is not a single angry word spoken against Germany; nevertheless the anti-German tendency is perfectly accomplished.[18][12]

The propaganda angle was cited by Variety in its 1942 review:

In its quiet yet actionful way, is, probably entirely unintentionally, one of the strongest pieces of propaganda against complacency to come out of the war. Not that it shows anything like the result of lack of planning by governments or individuals, but in that it brings so close to home the effects of total war.[19]

Box office

Mrs. Miniver exceeded all expectations, grossing $5,358,000 in the US and Canada and $3,520,000 abroad. In the United Kingdom, it was named the top box office attraction of 1942. The initial theatrical release earned a profit of $4,831,000, making it MGM's most successful film to that time.[2][20]

Awards and nominations

Award Category Nominee(s) Result
Academy Awards[21] Outstanding Motion Picture Sidney Franklin (for Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer) Won
Best Director William Wyler Won
Best Actor Walter Pidgeon Nominated
Best Actress Greer Garson[c] Won
Best Supporting Actor Henry Travers Nominated
Best Supporting Actress May Whitty Nominated
Teresa Wright Won
Best Screenplay George Froeschel, James Hilton, Claudine West and Arthur Wimperis Won
Best Cinematography – Black-and-White Joseph Ruttenberg Won
Best Film Editing Harold F. Kress Nominated
Best Sound Recording Douglas Shearer Nominated
Best Special Effects A. Arnold Gillespie, Warren Newcombe and Douglas Shearer Nominated
National Board of Review Awards Top Ten Films Mrs. Miniver Won
Best Acting Greer Garson (also for Random Harvest) Won
Teresa Wright Won
National Film Preservation Board National Film Registry Mrs. Miniver Inducted
New York Film Critics Circle Awards Best Actress Greer Garson Nominated

American Film Institute

Sequel and adaptations

In popular culture

  • The Early Bird Dood It!: the bird and the worm encounter a billboard for the "film" Mrs. Minimum, a spoof on Mrs. Miniver.
  • Jackson & Perkins introduced medium-red hybrid tea rose "Mrs. Miniver" in 1944, named after Mr. Ballard's rose. In 2015, one remaining plant was located in Germany. It was successfully propagated by St Bridget's Nurseries in Exeter in 2016 and returned to commerce in 2017.[24]
  • Downton Abbey, "Best Bloom Title": Violet Crawley gives her award away at a flower show, à la Lady Beldon.
  • A Raisin in the Sun: Brother, Ruth, and Beneatha give Lena a gift with the note "To our own Mrs. Miniver".

References

  1. ^ "MRS. MINIVER (U)". British Board of Film Classification. June 29, 1942. Archived from the original on November 6, 2022. Retrieved November 5, 2022.
  2. ^ a b c The Eddie Mannix Ledger, Los Angeles: Margaret Herrick Library, Center for Motion Picture Study.
  3. ^ Struther, Jan (1940). Mrs. Miniver. New York: Harcourt, Brace & Company. ASIN B000O9ZBGA.
  4. ^ a b Hal Erickson (2007). "Mrs. Miniver (1942)". Movies & TV Dept. The New York Times. Archived from the original on October 23, 2007. Retrieved February 16, 2013.
  5. ^ "Awards for Mrs. Miniver". IMDb. Archived from the original on July 21, 2013. Retrieved February 16, 2013.
  6. ^ "Mr. Miniver (1942)". Reel Classics. Archived from the original on May 2, 2008. Retrieved February 16, 2013.
  7. ^ "The 15th Academy Awards | 1943". Oscars.org | Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Archived from the original on May 2, 2019. Retrieved February 17, 2020.
  8. ^ Gardner, W. J. R., ed. (2000). The Evacuation from Dunkirk, 'Operation Dynamo', 26 May–4 June 1940. London: Frank Cass. ISBN 0-7146-5120-6.
  9. ^ Glancy, Mark (1999). When Hollywood Loved Britain: The Hollywood "British" Film, 1939-45. Manchester: Manchester University Press. pp. 147–148. ISBN 978-0719048531.
  10. ^ a b Daynard, Don Henry Wilcoxon in Peter Harris (ed.) The New Captain George's Whizzbang #13 (1971), p. 5
  11. ^ Yellin, Emily (2005). Our Mothers' War. New York: Free Press. pp. 99–100. ISBN 978-0743245166.
  12. ^ a b Fiona Macdonald. "Mrs Miniver: The film that Goebbels feared". Archived from the original on December 1, 2019. Retrieved February 17, 2020.
  13. ^ Tony Judt (2006). Postwar: A History of Europe Since 1945. Penguin Books. p. 232. ISBN 9780143037750. Archived from the original on March 5, 2023. Retrieved April 14, 2019.
  14. ^ "Mrs. Miniver (1942)". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango. Archived from the original on August 16, 2022. Retrieved April 16, 2024.
  15. ^ a b "Michael Jackson, the Muppets and Early Cinema Tapped for Preservation in 2009 Library of Congress National Film Registry". Library of Congress. December 30, 2009. Archived from the original on May 26, 2016. Retrieved November 5, 2022.
  16. ^ Farber, 2009 p. 13: The New Republic, June 15, 1942
  17. ^ Glancy 1999, p. 154.
  18. ^ Goebbels, Joseph; Fröhlich, Elke; Hermann, Angela; et al. (1993). Die Tagebücher: Diktate 1941 - 1945 ; 9, Juli - September 1943 (in German). Saur. ISBN 978-3-598-22305-1. Archived from the original on March 5, 2023. Retrieved February 17, 2020.
  19. ^ Golden, Herb (May 13, 1942). "Mrs. Miniver". Variety. Archived from the original on February 10, 2020. Retrieved February 17, 2020.
  20. ^ "101 Pix Gross in Millions" Variety, 6 Jan 1943, p. 58
  21. ^ "The 15th Academy Awards (1943) Nominees and Winners". Oscars. Archived from the original on July 6, 2011. Retrieved August 14, 2011.
  22. ^ "AFI's 100 YEARS…100 CHEERS". American Film Institute. Retrieved December 13, 2023.
  23. ^ "Jan Struther Bibliography". zip.com.au. October 20, 2008. Archived from the original on May 19, 2007. Retrieved September 1, 2021.
  24. ^ Murrin, Orlando (July 8, 2017). "Mrs Miniver: the wartime rose that almost vanished for ever". The Telegraph. ISSN 0307-1235. Archived from the original on July 9, 2017. Retrieved March 8, 2020.

Sources

  1. ^ Soon after playing Garson's son in the film, Richard Ney married Garson, who was 11 years his senior.
  2. ^ Sub-Lieut. Robert Owen Wilcoxon, RNVR, only brother of Henry Wilcoxon, assisted in the Dunkirk evacuation on 29 May 1940 – a year before work started on filming Mrs. Miniver – and was fatally injured by a bomb dropped from a German aircraft.[8]
  3. ^ Garson's Oscar acceptance speech was the longest of all time, taking five-and-a-half minutes to finish. A 45-second time limit was imposed on acceptance speeches shortly thereafter.

Further reading

  • Christensen, Jerome. "Studio Identity and Studio Art: MGM, Mrs. Miniver, and Planning the Postwar Era." ELH (2000) 67#1 pp: 257–292. online
  • Glancy, Mark. When Hollywood Loved Britain: The Hollywood 'British' Film (1999).
  • Grayzel, Susan R. "“Fighting for the idea of home life”: Mrs Miniver and Anglo-American representations of domestic morale." in Gender, Labour, War and Empire (Palgrave Macmillan, London, 2009) pp. 139-156.
  • Herman, Jan. A Talent for Trouble: The Life of Hollywood's Most Acclaimed Director (1995).
  • Koppes, Clayton R., and Gregory D. Black. Hollywood Goes to War: Patriotism, Movies, and the Second World War from Ninotchka to Mrs. Miniver (Tauris Parke Paperbacks, 2000)
  • Short, K. R. M. "'The White Cliffs of Dover': promoting the Anglo-American Alliance in World War II." Historical Journal of Film, Radio and Television (1982) 2#1 pp: 3-25.
  • Summerfield, Penny. "Dunkirk and the Popular Memory of Britain at War, 1940—58." Journal of contemporary history 45.4 (2010): 788–811.
  • Troyan, Michael. A Rose for Mrs. Miniver: The Life of Greer Garson (2010)

External links

This page was last edited on 21 April 2024, at 09:18
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