Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Battle Of The Oscar Stars: Best Picture 1942

Sometimes movies really know how to throw a viewer off. By this I mean, titles can often be misleading. When I read the title of the Best Picture Winner of 1942, I was anticipating...well, I wasn't anticipating much. Doesn't the title Mrs. Miniver sound like a movie that will follow the homely life of a crotchety old British schoolmarm? I thought so. Curses to the agreement with myself to only obsessively scour IMDB after watching a movie for the first time.

Just a little research would have revealed a drastically different image; one of intense war propaganda, high class broads, and lots of intrigue! What does this teach us? Don't judge a movie by its title; except for Piranha's 3D. If you actually pay to see that movie you should know by the title that you are basically throwing your money away.

Based in 1939 England (and I thought we cranked out movies quickly today) Mrs. Miniver follows the start of WWII and how it affects the people in a small village, though focusing on the privileged Miniver family. The namesake of the movie (played by Greer Garson) watches as her son then husband assist in the early war efforts while she is left home to listen to bombs dropping around her and wonder if her family will return.

The quick turn around in the release of this movie makes sense as it was basically used, and actually worked quite well, to gain sympathy for the British efforts in the war. Though, this only worked because what was produced was an incredibly interesting and enjoyably movie. Greer Garson and Walter Pidgeon waltz comfortably around the screen, and, in one of the most emotional scenes in a bomb shelter, they make you openly care about their characters as they read Alice In Wonderland to their children, all while the terrifying sound of bombs nearly drown out their voices.

Without even googling it, and it turned out I was right, I could tell that Garson should have won the best actress award that year. Though the effortless acting wasn't all that was acknowledged, as this film won six Academy Awards that year, including awards for writing, directing and cinematography.

This movie wouldn't have worked if it was just emotional tripe trying to pull at American heartstrings. I mean Mrs. Miniver actually turns out to be quite the badass as she finds a German pilot in her backyard and after he has her at gun point she actually slaps the guy! As movie characters go, I have a new idol. Let me tell you, I wouldn't have been able to guess that by the title.

Last words; surprisingly engrossing and more importantly (not to dumb this excellent movie down) Walter Pidgeon sort of resembles Jon Hamm. Recommend stamp!

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