Mrs. Miniver (1943)

Mrs. Miniver (1943)

Dir. William Wyler

Oscars: Best Picture, Best Director (William Wyler), Best Actress (Greer Garson), Best Supporting Actress (Teresa Wright), Best Screenplay (George Froeschel, James Hilton, Claudine West, Arthur Wimperis), Best Cinematography (Joseph Ruttenberg)

Other Nominees: 49th Parallel, Kings Row, The Magnificent Ambersons, The Pied Piper, The Pride of the Yankees, Random Harvest, The Talk of the Town, Wake Island, Yankee Doodle Dandy

I believe it would be a disservice to William Wyler’s wartime melodrama Mrs. Miniver to ignore the fact that the film is propaganda. This is not meant to demean the film, indeed, many great works of art have been created specifically to redirect a political compass, but to ignore its purpose or to excuse it would weaken the film’s character, and undermine its tremendous heart. Mrs. Miniver casts Greer Garson as a middle-class mother and housewife (those descriptors in that order, thank you) living in the English countryside before and during the country’s entry into World War II (a subject that is pure catnip for the Academy). As the war progresses  from mist to cloud to rain to hurricane, the Miniver family finds themselves at its mercy, just as any family might have during the War. The film shows the family’s simple, harmonious way of life before the war, when their greatest worry was a town flower show, as a valuable ideal that is worth defending at great mortal cost.

Screenshot (21)

World War II wasn’t that bad – wasn’t your local church destroyed this artfully?

Continue reading

Marty (1955)

Marty (1955)

Dir. Delbert Mann

Oscars: Best Picture (Harold Hecht), Best Director (Delbert Mann), Best Actor (Ernest Borgnine), Best Screenplay (Paddy Chayefsky)

Other Nominees: Love is a Many-Splendored Thing; Mister Roberts; Picnic; The Rose Tattoo

Marty is a film of such small scale, of such small ambitions, that it is hard to imagine such a film winning critical acclaim or even much popular attention in today’s world of big budgets and high stakes. Indeed, such was the attitude at Warner Bros. at the time of the film’s production, as it was produced largely as a low-budget tax write-off. Regardless, Marty went on to great financial success at many times its studio investment, and took the country by surprise with its simple, naïve charm. The film is largely unremarkable but for the moral conundrum of its titular character, played with dim-witted spark by Ernest Borgnine, who faces questions of worth and identity in as posed to him by those in his good meaning, but close-minded, community.

Capture2

Marty (Ernest Borgnine) attempts to ask a girl out, to disastrous results.

Continue reading