MRS MINIVER (U)
D: William Wyler
MGM (Sidney Franklin)
US 🇺🇸 1942
W: Arthur Wimperis, George Froeschel, James Hilton & Claudine West [based on the book by Jan Struther]
DP: Joseph Ruttenberg
Ed: Harold F. Kress
Mus: Herbert Stothart
PD: Cedric Gibbons
Cos: Robert Kalloch
Greer Garson (Kay Miniver), Walter Pidgeon (Clem Miniver), Teresa Wright (Carol Beldon), May Whitty (Lady Beldon), Reginald Owen (Foley), Henry Travers (Mr. Ballard), Richard Ney (Vin Miniver), Henry Wilcoxon (The Vicar)
The winner of the Best Picture Oscar for 1942, Mrs Miniver is a World War II film that focuses on the British homefront.
Whilst the men go into war against the Axis powers, Kay Miniver stays behind to maintain some sort of normalcy in their rural British village.
Based on a book of various essays by Jan Struther, four respected screenwriters collaborate to give plot to the work and it works reasonably well for a war movie that doesn't actually feature any conflict (akin to 1987's Hope & Glory, which has a similar plot but from a child's point of view).
There are some scenes which seem completely redundant however, mostly in the first act, but they are made up with the film's finer moments, particularly the capture of a German pilot in the Miniver home, an air raid during the Blitz and the final speech by the town's vicar, which was even acknowledged by Joseph Goebbels as fine propaganda for the Allied Forces war effort.
An important film for its time, with excellent performances from its ensemble cast, it's easy to see how this lifted spirits during the Second World War, but I doubt it would have won the Best Picture Oscar had Casablanca been eligible for 1942 (a technicality meant it qualified for the 1943 awards, which it won). Some of my minor criticisms would be of its depictions of Britain, which are far from convincing and though the period looks authentic, there isn't a single moment where it felt that this drama wasn't taking place in America, which isn't helped by the actor's accents in otherwise fine performances. I also have to acknowledge that it's a film from a time where productions were studio bound in Tinseltown, and though the English town isn't 100% accurate, some of the special effects and miniatures are particularly well done for the film's age.
Still, it's a fine piece of cinema which cemented William Wyler as a respected director, and he followed up four years later with The Best Years Of Our Lives, which I consider a much stronger film.