February 10, 2013

Movie Monday: Mrs. Miniver

TCM’s 31 Days of Oscar continues this week, this time with one of my favorite WWII movies starring one of my favorite movie couples.

Mr. and Mrs. Miniver (Walter Pidgeon and Greer Garson) are a middle-class couple in pre-WWII England. They have two young children and a son in college. Kay Miniver likes silly hats. Clem Miniver likes fast cars. And the biggest drama in their life is the local flower show, where the local nobility, Lady Beldon (Dame Mae Whitty) is put out that a local gardener has entered a stunning rose named after Mrs. Miniver, against Lady Beldon’s prize-winning roses. Their son, Vin (Richard Ney) comes home from university full of philosophical ideas about how to solve the world’s problems…only to discover his high-flung theories challenged in the person of Carol Beldon (Teresa Wright), Lady Beldon’s granddaughter.

But life for the Minivers takes a dramatic turn when England goes to war with Germany. Vin joins the RAF, Clem is active in the home guard, and the town’s entire being revolves around the war. As Vin and Carol fall deeper in love, they are separated by war duty and by her grandmother’s ideas of nobility vs the common people. The Minivers spend their evenings in bomb shelters, eat dinner behind blackout curtains, and breathe a little shallower every day Vin is gone on a mission.

It doesn’t take long before war literally comes to their own backyard. Clem is called to take his private boat to Dunkirk to help the Navy. Kay encounters her own Prisoner of War. And Vin and Carol’s relationship faces the all-too-tragic fate of wartime marriages, but not in the way anyone expected. Even their home isn’t spared the effects of the War. And through it all the family must find a way to face it without losing their hope and faith in tomorrow.

I love the WWII homefront dramas, and Mrs. Miniver is one of the very, very best. It lifts you and makes you laugh, it tears at your heart and makes you cry, and it makes your heart swell to see the spirit of those people who endured, if a shorter war, then a war widely more personal than anything we’ve ever known. My husband is deployed, but my family is safe. We aren’t living under the active threat of regular air raids. We aren’t changing our daily habits, even our diets, for the sake of the war. Watching these old homefront movies inspires me to find the strength those families had.

Mrs. Miniver (1942) will be on TCM on Friday, February 15, at 11:00 pm CST.

Honorable Mentions:
Vivacious Lady (1938) – Monday, February 11, 5:15 pm CST
Little Women (1933) – Monday, February 11, 7:00 pm CST
Abe Lincoln in Illinois (1940) – Monday, February 11, 9:15 pm CST
Love Affair (1939) – Monday, February 11, 11:15 pm CST
Top Hat (1935) – Tuesday, February 12, 1:00 am CST (Monday night)
Bachelor Mother (1939) – Tuesday, February 12, 3:15 am CST
The Enchanted Cottage (1945) – Tuesday, February 12, 3:15 pm CST
Notorious (1946) – Tuesday, February 12, 9:15 pm CST
My Favorite Wife (1940) – Tuesday, February 12, 11:15 pm CST
Kitty Foyle (1940) – Wednesday, February 13, 1:00 am CST (Tuesday night)
The Farmer’s Daughter (1947) – Wednesday, February 13, 9:00 am CST
The Bachelor and the Bobby Soxer (1947) – Wednesday, February 13, 11:00 am CST
I Remember Mama (1948) – Wednesday, February 13, 7:00 pm CST
She Wore a Yellow Ribbon (1949) – Wednesday, February 13, 9:30 pm CST
Susan Slept Here (1954) – Thursday, February 14, 2:45 am CST
The Americanization of Emily (1964) – Thursday, February 14, 7:00 am CST
Rebecca (1940) – Thursday, February 14, 11:00 pm CST
The Great Ziegfeld (1936) – Friday, February 15, 12:00 pm CST
Boys Town (1938) – Friday, February 15, 3:15 pm CST
Ninotchka (1939) – Friday, February 15, 5:00 pm CST
Grand Hotel (1932) – Friday, February 15, 8:45 pm CST
On The Town (1949) – Saturday, February 16, 9:15 am CST
Singin’ in the Rain (1952) – Saturday, February 16, 1:00 pm CST
Seven Brides for Seven Brothers (1954) – Saturday, February 16, 3:00 pm CST
Gigi (1958) – Saturday, February 16, 5:00 pm CST
Ben-Hur (1959) – Saturday, February 16, 7:00 pm CST
King Solomon’s Mines (1950) – Sunday, February 17, 6:15 am CST
Father of the Bride (1950) – Sunday, February 17, 1:15 pm CST

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