The Miniver Story (1950)

Synopsis:

World War II is over and British stalwart, Mrs. Miniver (Greer Garson, Random Harvest), tries to put her household back together, but a series of unexpected events threaten to destroy her plans.

Reaction & Thoughts:

Belated sequel to Mrs. Miniver picks up the story five years later. The words “forced” and “contrived” immediately came to my mind while viewing this movie. Greer Garson and Walter Pidgeon are as good a pair as ever and, unlike the first movie, the sequel was shot on location in England, yet the film has an unwelcome odor of artificiality — The Miniver Story is a disappointment for a variety of reasons.

The idea of a sequel wasn’t a bad one. Mrs. Miniver left many issues unresolved — the war was still going on and we were left with a question mark. Sadly, the sequel doesn’t do anything interesting with the material. I was expecting a drama along the lines of The Best Years of Our Lives and I got a cliched soap-opera instead.

I also disliked the way the movie eliminated characters and subplots from the 1942 movie. In the intervening years between the two movies, Garson married and divorced actor Richard Ney, the actor who played her son in Mrs. Miniver. She demanded that the character be erased from the story. I can understand Garson not wanting to be in the same room with her ex-husband, but why not just kill the character? The sequel pretends that the character never existed. The ages of the children aren’t right either.

Director H. C. Potter’s (Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House) pedestrian work doesn’t help either — there is something off about the flow of so many scenes. It all feels very dry, very stagnant. Garson and Pigeon keep the film from totally collapsing — they remain an engaging and compelling screen duo.

Reginald Owen (Mary Poppins) and Henry Wilcoxon (The Greatest Show on Earth) return as Mr. Foley and the Vicar respectively. The new characters are played by John Hodiak (The Harvey Girls) and Leo Genn (Quo Vadis). Cathy O’Donnell (They Live by Night) comes off best as Garson’s daughter. Look closely for Peter Finch (Network) as a drunken soldier and James Fox (A Passage to India) as “Little Toby.”

Conclusions & Final Thoughts:

If William Wyler’s Mrs. Miniver cemented leading actress Garson’s stardom, The Miniver Story signaled that her reign as Queen of the Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer lot was over. The movie was a critical and financial disaster. I can’t really recommend it — this film is mostly for the curious. B&W, 104 minutes, Not Rated.

5 responses to “The Miniver Story (1950)

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