Mrs. Miniver  

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Mrs. Miniver is a 1942 American romantic war drama film directed by William Wyler, and starring Greer Garson and Walter Pidgeon. Inspired by the 1940 novel Mrs. Miniver by Jan Struther, the film shows how the life of an unassuming British housewife in rural England is touched by World War II. Produced and distributed by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, the film features a supporting cast that includes Teresa Wright, Dame May Whitty, Reginald Owen, Henry Travers, Richard Ney, and Henry Wilcoxon.


Kay Miniver (Greer Garson) and her family live a comfortable life at a house called "Starlings" in Belham, a fictional village outside London. The house has a large garden, with a private landing stage on the River Thames at which is moored a motorboat belonging to her devoted husband, Clem (Walter Pidgeon), a successful architect. They have three children: the youngsters Toby (Christopher Severn) and Judy (Clare Sandars), and an older son, Vin (Richard Ney), a student at Oxford University. They have live-in staff: Gladys, the housemaid (Brenda Forbes), and Ada, the cook (Marie De Becker).

As World War II looms, Vin returns from the university and meets Carol Beldon (Teresa Wright), granddaughter of Lady Beldon (Dame May Whitty) from nearby Beldon Hall. Despite initial disagreements—mainly contrasting Vin's idealistic attitude to class differences with Carol's practical altruism—they fall in love. As the war comes closer to home, Vin feels he must "do his bit", and enlists in the Royal Air Force, qualifying as a fighter pilot. He is posted to a base near to his parents' home and can signal his safe return from operations to his parents by "blipping" his engine briefly (rapidly open and closing the throttle, which results in short, sharp roars of sound) as he flies over the house. Vin proposes to Carol in front of his family at home, after his younger brother prods him to give a less romantic, but more honest, proposal than he had envisioned. Together with other boat owners, Clem volunteers to take his motorboat, the Starling, to assist in the Dunkirk evacuation.

Early one morning, Kay, unable to sleep as Clem is still away, wanders down to the landing stage. She is startled to discover a wounded German pilot (Helmut Dantine) hiding in her garden, and he takes her to the house at gunpoint. Demanding food and a coat, the pilot aggressively asserts that the Third Reich will mercilessly overcome its enemies. She feeds him, calmly disarms him when he collapses, and then calls the police. Soon after, Clem returns home, exhausted, from Dunkirk.

Lady Beldon visits Kay to try and convince her to talk Vin out of marrying Carol on account of her granddaughter's comparative youth at age eighteen. Kay reminds Her Ladyship that she, too, had been young—sixteen, in fact—when she married her late husband. Lady Beldon concedes defeat and realizes that it would be futile to try to stop the marriage. Vin and Carol marry; Carol has now also become a Mrs. Miniver, and they return from their honeymoon in Scotland. A key theme is that she knows Vin is likely to be killed in action, but their short love will fill her life. Later, Kay and her family take refuge in their Anderson shelter in the garden during an air raid, and attempt to keep their minds off the frightening bombing by reading Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, which Clem refers to as a "lovely story". They barely survive as a bomb destroys part of Starlings. The Minivers take the damage with nonchalance.

At the annual village flower show, Lady Beldon silently disregards the judges' decision that her rose is the winner. Instead, she announces that the rose entered by the local stationmaster, Mr. Ballard (Henry Travers), named the "Mrs. Miniver", as the winner, with her own Beldon Rose taking second prize. As air raid sirens sound and the villagers take refuge in the cellars of Beldon Hall, Kay and Carol drive Vin to join his squadron. On their journey home, they witness fighter planes in a dogfight. For safety, Kay stops the car, and they see a German plane crash. Kay realizes Carol has been wounded by machine-gun fire from the plane, and takes her back to Starlings. She dies a few minutes after they reach home. Kay is devastated. When Vin returns from battle, he already knows the terrible news: Ironically, he is the survivor, and she the one who died.

The villagers assemble at the badly damaged church where their vicar affirms their determination in a powerful sermon:


A solitary Lady Beldon stands in her family's church pew. Vin moves to stand alongside her, united in shared grief, as the members of the congregation rise and stoically sing "Onward, Christian Soldiers", while through a gaping hole in the bombed church roof can be seen flight after flight of RAF fighters in the V-for-Victory formation heading out to face the enemy.


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