Mrs. Miniver (1942)



Critic Consensus: An excessively sentimental piece of propaganda, Mrs. Miniver nonetheless succeeds, due largely to Greer Garson's powerful performance.

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As Academy Award-winning films go, Mrs. Miniver has not weathered the years all that well. This prettified, idealized view of the upper-class British home front during World War II sometimes seems over-calculated and contrived when seen today. In particular, Greer Garson's Oscar-winning performance in the title role often comes off as artificial, especially when she nobly tends her rose garden while her stalwart husband (Walter Pidgeon) participates in the evacuation at Dunkirk. However, even if the film has lost a good portion of its ability to move and inspire audiences, it is easy to see why it was so popular in 1942-and why Winston Churchill was moved to comment that its propaganda value was worth a dozen battleships. Everyone in the audience-even English audiences, closer to the events depicted in the film than American filmgoers-liked to believe that he or she was capable of behaving with as much grace under pressure as the Miniver family. The film's setpieces-the Minivers huddling in their bomb shelter during a Luftwaffe attack, Mrs. Miniver confronting a downed Nazi paratrooper in her kitchen, an annual flower show being staged despite the exigencies of bombing raids, cleric Henry Wilcoxon's climactic call to arms from the pulpit of his ruined church-are masterfully staged and acted, allowing one to ever so briefly forget that this is, after all, slick propagandizing. In addition to Best Picture and Best Actress, Mrs. Miniver garnered Oscars for best supporting actress (Teresa Wright), best director (William Wyler), best script (Arthur Wimperis, George Froschel, James Hilton, Claudine West), best cinematography (Joseph Ruttenberg) and best producer (Sidney Franklin). Sidebar: Richard Ney, who plays Greer Garson's son, later married the actress-and still later became a successful Wall Street financier. Mrs. Miniver was followed by a 1951 sequel, The Miniver Story, but without the wartime setting the bloom was off the rose. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi
Classics , Drama , Romance
Directed By:
Written By:
In Theaters:
MGM Home Entertainment

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Greer Garson
as Kay Miniver
Walter Pidgeon
as Clem Miniver
Teresa Wright
as Carol Beldon Miniver
Richard Ney
as Vin Miniver
Dame May Whitty
as Lady Beldon
Henry Travers
as Mr. Ballard
Clare Sandars
as Judy Miniver
Christopher Severn
as Toby Miniver
Brenda Forbes
as Gladys, the Housemaid
Rhys Williams
as Horace Perkins
Marie de Becker
as Ada, The Cook
Helmut Dantine
as German Flier
Mary Field
as Miss Spriggins
Ben Webster
as Ginger
Aubrey Mather
as George, the Innkeeper
John Abbott
as Fred, the Porter
Connie Leon
as Simpson, The Maid
Billy Bevan
as Conductor
Florence Wix
as Woman with Dog
Bobby Hale
as Old Man
Alice Monk
as Lady Passenger
Ottola Nesmith
as Saleslady
Gerald Oliver Smith
as Car Dealer
Clara Reid
as Mrs. Huggins
Harry Allen
as William
Leslie Vincent
as Dancing Partner
John Burton
as Halliday
Leonard Carey
as Haldon's Butler
Clare Sanders
as Judy Miniver
Eric Lonsdale
as Marston
Guy Bellis
as Barman
Ian Wolfe
as Dentist
David Thursby
as Farmer
Arthur Wimperis
as Sir Henry
David Clyde
as Carruthers
Colin Campbell
as Bickles
David Dunbar
as Man in Store
Art Berry Sr.
as Man in Store
Sidney D'Albrook
as Man in Store
Gene Byram
as Glee Club Member
Virginia Bassett
as Glee Club Member
Aileen Carlyle
as Glee Club Member
Irene Denny
as Glee Club Member
Herbert Evans
as Glee Club Member
Eula Morgan
as Glee Club Member
Vernon Steele
as Glee Club Member
Vivie Steele
as Glee Club Member
Marek Windheim
as Glee Club Member
Tudor Williams
as Glee Club Member
Kitty Watson
as Contestant
Hugh Greenwood
as Contestant
Sybil Bacon
as Contestant
Thomas Lockyear
as Mr. Verger
Flo Benson
as Contestant
Miles Mander
as German Agent
Billy Engle
as Townsman
Louise M. Bates
as Miniver Guest
Edward Cooper
as Waiter
Walter Byron
as Man in Tavern
Ted Billings
as Man in Tavern
Dan Maxwell
as Man in Tavern
Frank Atkinson
as Man in Tavern
Henry King
as Man in Tavern
Gil Perkins
as Man in Tavern
John Power
as Man in Tavern
Thomas Louden
as Mr. Verger
Stanley Mann
as Workman
Leslie Sketchley
as Policeman
Frank Baker
as Policeman
Colin Kenny
as Policeman
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Critic Reviews for Mrs. Miniver

All Critics (25) | Top Critics (7)

Under Sidney Franklin's watchful supervision and William Wyler's masterly direction the story has become the most stirring, heart-clutching picture of our times.

Full Review… | February 17, 2015
New York Daily News
Top Critic

That almost impossible feat, a great war picture that photographs the inner meaning, instead of the outward realism of World War II.

Full Review… | February 17, 2009
TIME Magazine
Top Critic

A poignant story of the joys and sorrows, the humor and pathos of middle-class family life in wartime England.

Full Review… | January 28, 2008
Top Critic

The most famous and perhaps most effective propaganda film of World War II.

Full Review… | December 12, 2006
Chicago Reader
Top Critic

Classic soap opera in which good old British understatement has a field day, everybody is frightfully nice, and sentimentality is wrapped up in yards of tasteful gloss.

February 8, 2006
Time Out
Top Critic

Certainly it is the finest film yet made about the present war, and a most exalting tribute to the British, who have taken it gallantly.

Full Review… | May 20, 2003
New York Times
Top Critic

Audience Reviews for Mrs. Miniver

A middle-class family endures World War II. Essentially propaganda, Mrs. Miniver exalts the bravery of common people in extraordinary circumstances. Of course, "common" in this uniquely British sense involves a life of luxury, and while the class issues of British society are treated tangentially, the most pressing aspect of the film is how the characters rise to their circumstances. Mrs. Miniver's courage when confronted by a marooned German soldier, Mr. Miniver's excursion on a fishing boat, and their son's flying missions are all examples of common bravery. Most of these scenes are subtle and individually compelling, but the film amounts to a simple extolling of the everyday, and as a result it becomes locked in its political message. One scene that bothered me from a feminist perspective involves Mr. Miniver smacking his wife on the bottom after he finds out she is responsible for the marooned German's capture. The patriarchal necessity that the man be the locus of courage was yet another reminder that this film is confined to its era. Overall, while there is some good acting, war propaganda can only go so far.

Jim Hunter
Jim Hunter

Super Reviewer


It really hasn't aged all that well, but this is nonetheless a decently well made and well-intentioned World War II drama. What sets it apart from contemporary films about WWII is that it came out during the war, and was thus focusing on current events, specifically the impact of the war on the homefront, which, in the case of the film, happnes to primarily focuses on the war's effect on the Miniver household, mainly the title character- a nice lady from Britain's upper crust. I liked the choices they made in terms of setting and how it focuses less on the soldiers and more on those who did their part to support the war effort off the battlefield. Being that it is a Hollywood production that apparently got great acclaim from Churchill, the film tends to stick out as being a very idealized and sanitized melodramatic propaganda piece. There are soem really moving scenes though, and, like I said, the film is well intentioned, but as a result of all I've just said, the film is extremely biased and seems rather quaint and safe by today's standards. Aside from this, the film takes a while to really get going, it's rather uneven, and there's a fair amount of screentime where the title character isn't even the focus or present in the events. It's not a waste though. The perforamnces are decent, the subject matter interesting (even if the execution could use some work), and, as I said, there are some really moving sequences that are quite well done, especially the bomb shelter sequence. All in all, a noble film, but nothing really all that great. I can see why it was popular and acclaimed upon its release, but this is one of the many cases where the decision to give it the BEST PICTURE award hasn't stood the test of time. You should still perhaps give it a watch, but if you want a propaganda piece that is something of a masterpiece (and please don't take this recommendation out of context), see Triumph of the Will instead.

Chris Weber
Chris Weber

Super Reviewer


A pretty good drama about life during WWII, which came out during WWII. Not really exciting, but the actors are good.

Aj V
Aj V

Super Reviewer

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