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Mrs. Miniver (1942)

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Article 1

"MRS. MINIVER": The Family in War-Time

The Times (London)  July 8, 1942 page 6

It seems a long time ago since Mrs. Miniver, now the heroine of a film coming to the Empire on Friday, graced the Court page of The Times with her musings and comments on her cultured, comfortable, charming family life. There was always something so safe and serene about her, a suggestion of the Queen Anne tea-service and cucumber sandwiches on the lawn with Rupert Brooke's clock standing at ten to three.

The Minivers were well-off, without being rich. Clem knew about shooting and fishing as well as architecture; Vin was at Eton; Mrs. Miniver herself could be trusted to find the technical phrase for the latest ballet; but there was nothing ostentatious about them -- Mrs. Miniver's instinct for the right, the amusing, the undramatic attitude could always be relied upon. A family, indeed, which resentful barbarians could, with the merest jiggle of the pencil, turn into a caricature of the complacent, which Jane Austen would have understood and exploited with an endearing malice, and it was brave of a Hollywood film company to have chosen the Minivers as a means of illustrating to America the way in which the English behave under the impact of war.

It must be made clear that the Minivers on the screen are by no means the Minivers of the book -- Vin, for instance, has obviously never been to Eton -- and the picture of England at war suffers from that distortion which seems inevitable whenever Hollywood cameras are trained on it. It is absurd to show an English village unaware of the bombing of Warsaw, and caught unprepared for the news of the declaration of war, and, even if this mistake is accepted as incidental, its parallels throughout nag at the natural sense of gratitude for an American film which is generous and whole-hearted in its desire to offer tribute to the courage and character of ordinary people attacked by a force they are determined to resist.

While, however, the fatal lack of precision in the camera's lenses is persistent, Miss Greer Garson is always at hand to cloak with the virtue of her acting the flaws in the production. She gives a performance which lifts the screen to the level of the best traditions of the stage, and Mrs. Miniver in her hands, becomes a warm, human, and altogether admirable human being. Mr. Walter Pidgeon overcomes the handicap of an American accent and intonation in giving his account of Clem, and Dame May Whitty and Miss Theresa [sic] Wright are more than competent in their contrasting parts.

© 1942 The Times

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