On screen, they are larger than life.
Hollywood stars seduce us with their glamor. They become the vehicles of our dreams and desires. We rarely imagine them as ordinary people. And so, when we see a Hollywood star posing with family members—mortals like you and me—it comes as something of a shock.
But after a short pause, we realign our thoughts and experience a new tenderness towards the shadow on the screen. We delight in learning that those in whom we have invested so much of ourselves have ordinary mothers, just like us. Which makes identification with beloved Hollywood stars even more meaningful. It’s a delicious paradox: They are just like us — but not really. Thus, perhaps we can be just like them.
In 1942, MGM released Mrs. Miniver, starring Greer Garson and Walter Pigeon. The movie was a great boost to morale and helped strengthen America’s commitment to defeating the genocidal fascists of Germany and Japan. The film emphasizes chin-up devotion to duty: Mr. Miniver, an architect, sails to Dunkirk, Mrs. Miniver confronts a wounded German pilot, their son joins the RAF, and their lovely house is mercilessly bombed.
But the film does not shirk from the horrors of war, especially when Mrs. Miniver’s daughter-in-law, just back from her honeymoon, is killed in a strafing run.
The closing scene of the film is hugely effective and is especially relevant in light of the genocidal Islamist war against western civilization. [Read more…] about Friday Flickers: Mrs. Miniver
Several months ago I started a list of my picks for the Greatest Movies ever made. I began with silent films, made my way through the 30’s, then started the 40’s but got sidetracked by, um, laziness.
I’m going to continue with my list of the 20 films that I feel are the best of the 40’s. My picks are deeply personal and will enrage many film school types who will wonder why Citizen Kane is absent. Answer: it’s boring, pretentious and I have no idea what the film is about. Just try watching the movie with an audience of actual normal human beings instead of film geeks.
As you can see, the list is heavy on screwball comedies because anyone who knows anything about film knows that comedy is the hardest genre to master.
There is one foreign film on my list, Day of Wrath, directed by Carl Dreyer, a true masterpiece that never fails to reveal unexpected depths.
There are omissions, films that I love, but hey, this list is not written in stone and next year I can always come up with another list of the Greatest Movies—entirely revised.
All the films are available on DVD to which I link and many, if not all, on Netflix.