SO WELL REMEMBERED(director: Edward Dmytryk; screenwriter: from the novel Mrs. Miniver by James Hilton/John Paxton; cinematographer: Freddie Young; editor: Harry W. Gerstad; music: Hanns Eisler; cast: John Mills (George Boswell), Martha Scott (Olivia Channing/Olivia Boswell/Olivia Winslow), Patricia Roc (Julie Morgan), Trevor Howard (Dr. Richard Whiteside), Richard Carlson (Charles Winslow), Julian D’Albie (Wetherall), Reginald Tate (Trevor Mangin), Frederick Leister (John Channing), Beatrice Varley (Annie); Runtime: 114; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Adrian Scott; RKO; 1947-UK/USA)
“A British drama that’s hardly remembered anymore for good reason: it’s humdrum.”
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
A British drama that’s hardly remembered anymore for good reason: it’s humdrum. It’s based on the 1942 James Hilton novel Mrs. Miniver; the screenplay is by John Paxton. Hilton also serves as the film’s narrator. It’s set in an impoverished English mill town from after World War I through the end of World War II. Edward Dmytryk (“The Blonde From Singapore”/”Murder, My Sweet”/”The End of the Affair”) directs this routine drama with workmanlike efficiency, but never raises it above soap opera.
George Boswell (John Mills) is an idealistic councilman and newspaper editor trying to improve conditions in his poverty-stricken factory town in Browdley, England. He helps the pretty Olivia Channing (Martha Scott) get a librarian’s job over the protests of his fellow council members, who object that her mill owner father John Leister (Frederick Leister) was sent to prison for twenty years for robbing money from the town and causing the current unsanitary slum conditions. George gets her the post after arguing that to punish the daughter for the sins of her father is not cricket. After her father dies in a car accident, driving down his hilltop home’s road that’s been washed-out, George marries her. Olivia turns out to be an ambitious woman from hell, who manipulates George’s successful run for Parliament by getting him the backing of a Channing-like shady industrialist named Trevor Mangin (Reginald Tate). When a diphtheria epidemic breaks out, George works with local doctor Whiteside (Trevor Howard) to combat the disease and breaks with his greedy amoral backers by quitting Parliament. George’s young son dies of diphtheria, and the marriage goes on the rocks; Olivier divorces him, as she sides with the forces of greed at any cost and George returns to his old idealistic fighting ways. He rises in rank from councilman to alderman to the town’s current Mayor.
The alcoholic doctor and the politician, both unmarried, work together to raise Julie Morgan (Patricia Roc) from a baby to her current age of 20, at the onset of WWII. Military officer Charles Winslow (Richard Carlson), the son of Olivia and her second husband, now deceased, falls in love with a receptive Julie. The kindly mayor approves of Charles and the son, who grew up listening to his mother’s hatred of her first husband, now changes his opinion and is drawn to him. In the meantime, Olivia reopened the town’s Channing factory and still exhibits an uncaring concern for the workers. Tragedy comes when Olivia learns that Charles, serving in the army, suffers a facial injury in battle that leaves him badly scarred. At the hospital, Julia says she still loves Charles and marries him over the objections of meanie Olivia. It ends at the site of a celebration by the locals for the end of WWII, whereby Olivia confronts George and he learns his monster wife let her father die in the accident because he was about to warn George not to marry his twisted daughter and that she let their son die rather than take him to a clinic. Olivia gets her comeuppance when she takes it hard that her son married Julia.
The Hollywood Red-baiters were out in full force and made unfair accusations that the film’s attitudes were Communist-inspired. In the same year of the film’s release, Dmytryk and producer Scott were part of the infamous “Hollywood Ten” and were sentenced to one-year jail terms for refusing to testify before the House Un-American Activities committee. Dmytryk got his career back on track by becoming a friendly witness in the second round of hearings of the committee in 1951, ratting out Scott and others as Communists.
REVIEWED ON 9/11/2007 GRADE: C+
Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”
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