The film was both commercially and critically successful and out of twelve nominations won six Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Best Actress, and Best Director. It was the top-grossing film of 1942 and the second biggest box-office hit of the decade, after 'Gone With The Wind'. In 2009, it was included in the National Film Registry by the Library of Congress for being "culturally, historically or aesthetically" significant.
The film was based on a series of newspaper articles by Jan Struther published in 1939 about the adventures of an English family on the eve of WWII. Because MGM intended from the outset to make Mrs. Miniver a pro-British war film, the screenwriters and director William Wyler expanded on her story by carrying her characters forward into a new and challenging wartime setting.
The movie was certainly extremely influential as wartime propoganda and through its portrayal of the many hardships the British were suffering, Americans came to sympathize with the English, and support for American involvement in the European war rose dramatically. Winston Churchill was moved to comment that its propaganda value was worth a dozen battleships.
The film ends with the rousing speech of the vicar (Henry Wilcoxon). "This is the people's war! It is our war! We are the fighters. Fight it then. Fight it with all that is in us. And may God defend the right!"
The speech was printed in magazines like "Time" and "Look" and President Franklin Delano Roosevelt ordered that it be broadcast on the Voice of America, and copies of it were dropped over Europe as propaganda. This speech has come to be known as The Wilcoxon Speech, in tribute to actor Henry Wilcoxon's stirring delivery of it.
'Mrs. Miniver' is a unique movie, made at a particular time for a particular reason. It was directed with great insight and empathy by William Wyler and the acting of Greer Garson as Mrs. Miniver is superb. The film succeeded as wonderful propaganda because it first succeeded as a wonderful film.
Main CastGreer Garson ... Mrs. Kay Miniver
Walter Pidgeon ... Clem Miniver
Teresa Wright ... Carol Beldon
Dame May Whitty ... Lady Beldon
Reginald Owen ... Foley
Henry Travers ... James Ballard
Richard Ney ... Vin Miniver
Henry Wilcoxon ... Vicar
Christopher Severn ... Toby Miniver
Brenda Forbes ... Gladys - Housemaid
Clare Sandars ... Judy Miniver
Marie De Becker ... Ada - Cook
Helmut Dantine ... German Flyer
John Abbott ... Fred
Connie Leon ... Simpson
CreditsDirector ... William Wyler
Produced ... Sidney Franklin
Production Company ... Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer
Story by ... Based on the 1939 book by Jan Struther
Screenplay ... Arthur Wimperis, George Froechel, James Hilton, Claudine West
Format ... B & W
Cinematography ... Joseph Ruttenberg
Release date ... June 4, 1942
Running time ... 134 minutes
Academy AwardsSix Wins:
Best Picture ... Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer
Best Director ... William Wyler
Best Actress ... Greer Garson
Best Supporting Actress ... Teresa Wright
Best Screenplay ... Arthur Wimperis, George Froechel, Jmes Hilton, Claudine West
Best Cinematography ... Joseph Ruttenberg
Six Unsuccessful Nominations:
Best Actor ... Walter Pidgeon
Best Supporting Actor ... Henry Travers
Best Supporting Actress ... Dame May Whitty
Film Editing ... Harold F. Kress
Sound Recording ... MGM Sound Dept., Douglas Shearer Sound director
Special Effects ... Photographic-A.Arnold Gillespie, Warren Newcombe;Sound-Douglas Shearer