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Mrs. Miniver

( 7 )

Overview

This is a strange DVD to recommend heartily, considering how poorly the main feature has held up. Mrs. Miniver (1942) was a multiple Oscar winner that may well have helped firm up American solidarity with the British in the first year of American combat in World War II. It was made by one of Hollywood's greatest directors, had a top cast and a script that was the product of four major authors, and it utilized the best facilities of what was then the biggest of all the studios, MGM. The Warner Home Video DVD looks...
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Overview

This is a strange DVD to recommend heartily, considering how poorly the main feature has held up. Mrs. Miniver (1942) was a multiple Oscar winner that may well have helped firm up American solidarity with the British in the first year of American combat in World War II. It was made by one of Hollywood's greatest directors, had a top cast and a script that was the product of four major authors, and it utilized the best facilities of what was then the biggest of all the studios, MGM. The Warner Home Video DVD looks as good and as handsome as one might expect it would -- much sharper than the old MGM/UA laserdisc, without any of that format's playback anomalies, and also costing far less (and loaded with bonus features). It's impossible to complain about any of the technical aspects of the DVD, except for the audio, which is mastered at a very low level. The movie itself is another matter. At the best of times, Mrs. Miniver anticipates director William Wyler's much more effective dramatic scenes in The Best Years of Our Lives (1946), while other scenes -- most notably the confrontation between Kay Miniver (Greer Garson) and a downed German flyer -- are beautifully played and suspenseful. But, through much of the film, Wyler and the cast are too weighed down trying to emphasize the movie's Englishness (in its characterizations and setting) and tell a story (intended for American eyes) that showcases the notion that every class of British society was in the war and fighting. It all becomes very tiresome, watching Wyler and company operating in second gear (or on seven cylinders) because of the artificial, message-laden script; it's like watching Wyler trying to work with one eye blindfolded, and he only finds his footing in about half of the movie. Interestingly, in the domestic scenes, he finds one common element with The Best Years of Our Lives (and the characters played in that film by Fredric March and Myrna Loy), in the obvious relish with which he depicts the middle-aged couple (Greer Garson/Walter Pidgeon) here as still being passionately in love with each other and very obviously still enjoying a healthy sex life. The other half of the story -- the self-consciously British half -- is as bad (or good, but nothing special) as any less-than-first-rate propaganda drama of the period. It's fifty percent of a good movie, with a lot of binding material lacking. What makes the disc distinctly more worthwhile than the movie are the extras. MGM produced some good propaganda shorts, and two of them are here. Mr. Blabbermouth is an anti-defeatist short subject with a strongly comic edge, reminiscent of the Pete Smith specialty films, and a good morale-boosting tone. It's nicely and cleverly put together, and even though it stretches the truth at times in the name of keeping morale high, it's a lot less inaccurate than anything the Germans were being fed by their film industry. Curiously, it does leave out the one factor about American industry that even the highest levels of the German intelligence and military communities feared, in terms of bringing the United States into the war -- that as of 1940, 11 years into the Great Depression with industrial activity crippled for a decade, there were still more precision machine tools in the United States than there were in the whole rest of the world combined. The other short, For the Common Defense, was part of the studio's superb "Crime Doesn't Pay" series. It tells of the breaking up of a German espionage and sabotage ring in Latin America with help from the Chilean police, and emphasizes inter-American cooperation. It's suspenseful and includes a fair amount of violence for the period, as well as being reasonably well acted. Indeed, there was enough good here that the same story, in the hands of another studio such as, say, RKO, this scenario would have been the basis for a solid 75-minute B-movie. The funny thing is, that makes it sort of the opposite of Mrs. Miniver, which was adapted from a flabby script that never realized what potential it did have. For those who really care about the latter, there is newsreel footage of Garson accepting her Oscar with a very emotional speech (of legendary length) and the original release trailer, which is a reminder of just how special the movie did seem in 1942. There's also a still photo array from the movie. The whole package is well designed, the disc opening on a simple two-layer menu that is easy to maneuver around, including the special features. Everything is transferred full-screen (1.33:1), with beautiful sharpness and clarity. The language selection includes optional French audio and subtitles in English, French, and Spanish.
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Special Features

Closed Caption; Greer Garson Academy Awards footage; Photo gallery; Two World War II-era shorts: "Mr. Blabbermouth" and "For the Common Defense"; Theatrical trailer
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Editorial Reviews

All Movie Guide - Richard Gilliam
Mrs. Miniver was a World War II propaganda film that, early in the war, helped build and sustain public support for the United States' involvement in Europe. Parts of it may now seem forced and artificial, particularly Greer Garson's Oscar-winning performance. Garson's Oscar win and lengthy acceptance speech became a long-running joke in Hollywood -- for example, the claims that she stayed at the podium for 45 minutes or more. (Her actual acceptance remarks took around 5 minutes, still the longest-ever Oscar acceptance speech.) The film contains the sort of elements that you would expect it to contain. Garson is the strong-willed British homemaker who refuses to allow Nazi bombs to ruin her roses. She is noble and brave and self-sacrificing and all those things that a government asks its people to be in times of war. The film is constructed so smoothly that it's easy to overlook its craft. Hollywood did its part for the war effort and honored Mrs. Miniver with six Oscars, including Best Picture and Best Director (William Wyler). As soon as WWII was over, Wyler would direct The Best Years of Our Lives, the era's most insightful movie about the hardships that war brings to families.
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Product Details

  • Release Date: 2/3/2004
  • UPC: 012569519626
  • Original Release: 1942
  • Rating:

  • Source: Warner Home Video
  • Region Code: 1
  • Aspect Ratio: Full Frame
  • Presentation: Standard Screen
  • Time: 2:13:00
  • Format: DVD
  • Sales rank: 9,601

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Greer Garson Mrs. Kay Miniver
Walter Pidgeon Clem Miniver
Teresa Wright Carol Beldon
Dame May Whitty Lady Beldon
Reginald Owen Foley
Henry Travers Mr. Ballard
Henry Wilcoxon Vicar
Richard Ney Vin Miniver
Tom Conway Man
Christopher Severn Toby Miniver
Brenda Forbes Gladys, the Housemaid
Frank Atkinson
Frank Baker
Louise M. Bates Miniver Guest
Guy Bellis Barman
Ted Billings
Walter Byron
Leonard Carey Haldon's Butler
Aileen Carlyle
Herbert Clifton
Edward Cooper Waiter
Sidney D'Albrook Men in Store
David Dunbar
Billy Engle Townsman
Herbert Evans
Leslie Francis Doctor
Colin Kenny Policeman
Henry King
Eric Lonsdale Marston
Stanley Mann Workman
Eula Morgan
Ottola Nesmith Saleslady
Gil Perkins
John Power Men in Tavern
Clare Sanders Judy Miniver
Leslie Sketchley
Vernon Steele
David Thursby Farmer
Leslie Vincent Dancing Partner
Tudor Williams Glee Club Member
Marek Windheim
Florence Wix Woman with Dog
St. Luke's Choristers Chorus
Art Berry Sr.
Harold Howard Judge
John Abbott Fred, the Porter
Harry Allen William
Charles Bennett Milkman
Billy Bevan Conductor
John Burton Halliday
Colin Campbell Bickles
David Clyde Carruthers
Alec Craig Joe
Helmut Dantine German Flyer
Marie de Becker Ada, The Cook
Mary Field Miss Spriggins
Douglas Gordon Porter
Bobby Hale Old Man
Forrester Harvey Mr. Huggins, Conductor
Charles Irwin Mac
Peter Lawford Pilot
Connie Leon Simpson, The Maid
Thomas Lockyear Mr. Verger
Miles Mander Voice Only
Aubrey Mather The Innkeeper
Clara Reid Mrs. Huggins
Paul Scardon Nobby
Gerald Oliver Smith Car Dealer
Ben Webster Ginger
Rhys Williams Horace Perkins
Arthur Wimperis Sir Henry
Ian Wolfe Dentist
Technical Credits
William Wyler Director
Sidney Franklin Producer
George Froeschel Screenwriter
Cedric Gibbons Art Director
Arnold A. Gillespie Special Effects
James Hilton Screenwriter
Robert Kalloch Costumes/Costume Designer
Harold Kress Editor
Urie McCleary Art Director
Warren Newcombe Special Effects
Joseph Ruttenberg Cinematographer
Herbert Stothart Score Composer
Claudine West Screenwriter
Edwin B. Willis Set Decoration/Design
Arthur Wimperis Screenwriter
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Scene Index

Side #1 --
1. Credits and Foreword.
2. Nice Things.
3. A Rose by Her Name.
4. Pricey Purchases.
5. Lucky People.
6. Oxford Enlightenment.
7. Carol's Request, Vin's Protest.
8. Wonderful Evening.
9. Eye Contact.
10. At War.
11. Good Luck, Horace.
12. Sirens, Milady.
13. Lights Out.
14. Ready for Real.
15. Vin Called to Duty.
16. Signal From the Sky.
17. Clem Called to Duty.
18. Destination Dunkirk.
19. Their Comfort.
20. The Enemy.
21. The Same Thing Here.
22. Homecomings.
23. Trading War Stories.
24. Lady Beldon Calls.
25. Bomb Shelter.
26. Time Enough for Tears.
27. Flower Show.
28. Challenge Cup Winner.
29. Plane Crash.
30. Air-Raid Casualty.
31. Our War.
32. Cast List.
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Menu

Side #1 --
   Play Movie
   Scene Selections
   Special Features
      Greer Garson Academy Awards Footage
      Photo Gallery
      MGM Shorts
         Mr. Blabbermouth
         For the Common Defense
      Theatrical Trailer
   Languages
      Spoken Languages: English
      Spoken Languages: Français
      Subtitles: English
      Subtitles: Français
      Subtitles: Español
      Subtitles: Off
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 7 )
Rating Distribution

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(5)

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Sort by: Showing all of 7 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    Tenderly Affecting WWII Melodrama - Stunning Transfer!

    'Mrs. Miniver' is one of those non-factual, war time propaganda tear jerkers that has proven itself to be enduring and immensely entertaining. Upon its release, Winston Churchill declared the film more influential in getting America involved in WWII than a fleet of destroyers. The plot concerns Mrs. Miniver (Greer Garson) the atypical English housewife quietly enduring the hardships of war and capturing a downed Nazi pilot in her begonias in the process. It sounds hoaky but actually the story is incredibly stirring. Walter Pigeon, Garson¿s frequent costar, is cast as her tender husband, Clem. Richard Ney plays her slightly opinionated son, Vin who rises to the occasion and becomes a flyer for the RAF. Aside: Ney and Garson were carrying on an affair during the filming that eventually resulted in a disastrous marriage and a quicky divorce. Oh well, at least the relationships in the film are perfect. Of merit is Teresa Wright¿s outstanding performance as Carol, Vin's doomed fiancee. Previously issued versions of this film were near perfect so it's really no surprise to discover that this DVD carries on in the same tradition. Quite simply: the picture is outstanding. Blacks are deep and solid. The gray scale is beautiful and well balanced. There is hardly a scratch or a bit of grit or grain to distract. The soundtrack is equally impressive in MONO but very, very nicely balanced. A bit of a disappointment comes from the fact that no one at Warner Brothers had the foresight to do a ¿making of¿ featurette. All we get is a couple of short subjects and a stills gallery.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    An oldie but good film

    Classic film if you're into old movies. They don't make movies like these old ones anymore

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    Superb WWII Movie

    I disagree that this film has not weathered well. Certainly it's prettified and idealized England, but that's typical MGM treatment--MGM made big, glossy, sentimental movies with attractive stars behaving nobly. That's why fans of the Golden Era love MGM movies! This is a wonderful, inspiring story with exceptional acting throughout. Propaganda, yes, but not that far from the truth. Read historical accounts of the behavior of the British during the Blitz. Mrs. Miniver portrays their courage splendidly. A great movie. Highly recommended.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 15, 2009

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted May 7, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted October 31, 2008

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted May 26, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

Sort by: Showing all of 7 Customer Reviews