Thursday, September 29, 2011

Happy Birthday: Greer Garson!

Greer Garson, (29 September 1904 – 6 April 1996). At first wanted to become a teacher, until she began working with an advertising agency and performed in local theatrical productions. It wasn't long before, she performed on television starring in, Twelfth Night in May (1937). Louis B. Mayer, discovered Garson while he was in London. Garson, was then signed to a contract with MGM, but did not begin work until her first film, Goodbye, Mr. Chips (1939).

A British film based on the novel of the same name by James Hilton. It was directed by Sam Wood. Cast: Robert Donat, Greer Garson, Terry Kilburn, John Mills, and Paul Henreid.

The movie begins when 83 year-old Mr. Chipping, a retired schoolteacher stays home because he is feeling under the weather and he falls asleep and his life is shown in a flashback dream:

When young Charles Chipping, first arrives to teach Latin to the Brookfield students, he becomes a target to their practical jokes. He becomes a strict disciplinarian as a result, making him respected, but not very well liked and he worries about his future as a teacher. His friend German teacher, Max Staefel, invites him to vacation with him in Austria. While hiking on the mountain, Chipping "rescues" Kathy Ellis, while she is out riding her bike.

They meet again in Vienna and dance to the Blue Danube Waltz. Max shares with her that the Danube River appears blue, only to those who are in love. As Chipping looks at the river, he notices that it is blue. They marry and return to England, where Kathy becomes well liked by everyone. During their very short marriage, she dies in childbirth, along with their baby. As the years pass, Chips becomes a much loved teacher, with several generations of students. Chips, retires at age 65, but is asked to fill in as headmaster, because of the shortage of teachers during World War I. He remembers his wife Kathy's prediction, that he would become headmaster one day. During a bombing attack by a Germans, Chips and the boys keep on working on their studies.

Now.. on his deathbed he overhears the men talking about him not having any children. He tells them, " I have thousands of them ... thousands of them ... and all boys."

She received her first Oscar nomination for the role in this film, but lost to Vivien Leigh for Gone with the Wind.

Greer Garson is wonderful as always in her role as the intelligent, free spirit "Mrs. Chips". The film is charming and sentimental and you certainly will need a box of Kleenex while watching this amazing film.

She also received critical acclaim the next year for her role as Elizabeth Bennet in the 1940 film, Pride and Prejudice.

A film adaptation of Jane Austen's novel of the same name. Robert Z. Leonard directed. Cast: Greer Garson, Mary Boland, Maureen O'Sullivan. The film begins when the girls are out shopping for new dresses when they see two gentlemen and a lady in a beautiful carriage. They learn that the men are Mr. Bingley, who is renting the estate of Netherfield and Mr. Darcy, both wealthy, eligible bachelors. After the Bennets return home, Mrs. Bennet tries to talk Mr. Bennet, into seeing Mr. Bingley, but he refuses, saying that they have already met.

At the ball, Elizabeth overhears Mr. Darcy talking about not wanting to dance with her. She also meets for the first time Mr. Wickham. It turns out that Mr. Darcy does ask her to dance, but she refuses, when Mr. Wickham asks her right in front of Darcy, she accepts.

The Bennets' cousin, Mr. Collins, arrives, looking for a wife and sets his sights on Elizabeth. Mr. Darcy, sees her distress and asks her to dance. After seeing the obnoxious behaviour of her mother and younger sisters, he leaves again. The next day, Mr. Collins asks her to marry him, but she refuses. He then asks her best friend, Charlotte Lucas, to marry him.

When Elizabeth visits Charlotte in her new home, she is introduced to Lady Catherine de Bourgh, and also sees Mr. Darcy there. Later, he asks her to marry him, because she believes he stole Wickham's fortune, and also because he broke up the romance between Mr. Bingley and Jane, she refuses.

When Elizabeth returns to Longborn, she learns that Lydia has eloped with Wickham. Mr. Darcy tells her that Wickham will never marry Lydia and that Wickham had tried to elope with his 15-year-old sister, Georgiana. Elizabeth, realizes that she is in love with him, but believes he will never see her again because of Lydia's disgraceful elopement. Lydia and Wickham, do return home married. Lady Catherine, tells the family that Mr. Darcy found Lydia and forced Wickham to marry her. Darcy and Elizabeth proclaim their love for each other.

Greer Garson, did a wonderful job playing the feisty, high spirited.. Elizabeth.

Garson starred with Joan Crawford in the film, When Ladies Meet (1941). The film was a remake of the 1933 Pre-Code film of the same name. The story is about a novelist with very modern ideas about marriage, and who is in love with her publisher, Rogers Woodruff. She decides she is going to take him away from his wife. Jimmy, is convinced he's the right man for her and decides to put Mary and Woodruff's wife Claire together at the house of a friend. The two women do not know each other, but during their visits Mary respects Claire's wisdom. When she learns Woodruff is a nothing but a womanizer and realizes she cannot love him.

Please click here to view movie review for When Ladies Meet(1941).

That same year she performed in, Blossoms in the Dust, film which tells the story of the non-fictional Edna Gladney who helps orphaned children to find homes, despite those who think that illegitimate children are not worth their time.

Greer Garson, was wonderful, in this heart warming film.

This film was her first of five consecutive Best Actress Oscar nominations, tying Bette Davis' 1938-1942 record.

A wonderful film about Mrs Miniver and her family, who live a comfortable life of shopping and going to lunch and living in a beautiful home in a village outside London. Her husband Clem is a successful architect. They have three children: Toby and Judy, and Vin, who attends the university. Also, living with them are Gladys the housemaid and Ada the cook.

Vin comes home from university and meets Carol Beldon, the granddaughter of Lady Beldon. Despite their first meting that did not go so well, they fall in love. They eventually marry, but as the war comes closer to home, Vin enlists in the Royal Air Force as a fighter pilot.

One morning, Kay hears a plane crash. The wounded, German pilot hides in her garden and then holds her at gunpoint. She feeds him and then calls the police.

After the village's flower shows competition, in which stationmaster Mr Ballard, rose named after 'Mrs. Miniver, wins. Kay and Carol drive Vin, to his squadron. On their way home, Carol is wounded in an attack and dies after they reach home. When Vin returns home, he is told the terrible news.

Vin stands with the congregation sing "Onward, Christian Soldiers", while through a huge hole in the roof in the sky can be seen the RAF fighters in the V-for-Victory formation heading out to fight.

I have to say great acting by the cast, particularly Greer Garson as Mrs. Miniver and few would deny that Mrs. Miniver certainly earns its place on any list of wonderful classic films.

(Guinness Book of World Records credits her with the longest Oscar acceptance speech, at five minutes and 30 seconds, after which the Academy Awards instituted a time limit.)

She was also nominated for the film, Madame Curie (1943).

A biographical film directed by Mervyn LeRoy and produced by Sidney Franklin . It stars Greer Garson, Walter Pidgeon, Henry Travers, Albert Bassermann, C. Aubrey Smith, Dame May Whitty, Reginald Owen, Van Johnson, and Margaret O'Brien and featuring narration read by James Hilton. The film tells the story of Polish-French physicist Marie Curie. Garson and Pidgeon, also starred together in the film, Mrs. Miniver.

Marie Sklodowska, is a student living in Paris and studying at the Sorbonne. One day during class she faints, her tutor, Prof. Perot, learns that she has no friends or family in Paris, invites her to a soiree.

Among the guests is physicist Pierre Curie, who is very devoted to his work. He invites Marie to share his lab and finds that she is a gifted scientist. He takes her to visit his family in their country home. Marie and Pierre both soon realize that they are in love.

Wanting to learn more about how a pitchblende rock generates enough energy to take small photographs, Marie decides to make the rock's energy the subject of her doctoral study. Things don't turn out like she wanted so she he decides there must be a third radioactive element in the rock. While discussing this, she tells Pierre's family that she's pregnant.

The physics department refuses to fund their research, but allows them to use a old shed. In spite of all the problems they know something is definitely there. They find a method to make pure radium.

Now world-famous, they celebrate after winning the Nobel Prize. They're granted a new laboratory by the university and before its dedication, Marie shows her new dress, to Pierre who wants to surprise her with earrings to match. While walking home in the rain, he does not see a delivery wagon and is killed. Marie remembers Pierre's words that if one of them is gone, the other must go on working.

I think you will be captivated by this film seeing a woman use her intelligence and not be stopped by wanting to please society.

Greer Garson next performance was in the film, Mrs. Parkington (1944). Which tells the story of a woman's life, told in flashbacks, from hotel maid to society matron. The movie was adapted by Polly James and Robert Thoeren from the novel by Louis Bromfield. It was directed by Tay Garnett and starred Greer Garson and Walter Pidgeon.

Susie thinks back to a time when she was working as a chambermaid. It was there that she met the wealthy Major Augustus Parkington and after her mother's death they marry. Shortly after the marriage Susie is introduced to Baroness Aspasia Conti, a French aristocrat and close friend of Augustus, who helps Susie pick out her clothes and their house. Susie, soon grows tired of her interference in her marriage and announces that she is pregnant. Augustus holds a ball to celebrate, but his happiness is short lived when most of his guest refuse to attend because of Augustus feud with a wealthy businessman. His disapointment upsets Susie, and when she runs after her husband she stumbles and miscarries their baby. In his anger Augustus blames his neighbours for Susie's miscarriage and vows to get revenge.

Four years pass and Augustus has put many of their neighbours out of business. After one of their neighbours, Mrs. Livingstone, pleads with her to speak to Augustus about putting her husband out of business, Susie leaves her husband and moves in with Aspasia. Augustus,asks his wife to return home, telling her that he can not put the Livingstones out of business. Susie then tells him that she has been financially supporting the Livingstone's business and his vendetta with their neighbours has got to stop.

Their troubles continues when the Parkingtons' son Herbert dies. Susie becomes a recluse for a year and Augustus moves to their country home in England. Aspasia talks Susiein into fighting for her marriage. When Aspasia, shares that she will be moving back to Paris because she is dying. She also tells Susie that she has always been in love with Augustus, which is no surprise to Susie.

Susie realises her problems with her family will never be solved so she decides to return to her childhood home.

By the end of this film, I really did not care what happened to the members of the Parkington family. But.. It just maybe me.

The Valley of Decision (1945). is a film set in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA in the late 19th century. It tells the story of a young Irish house maid who falls in love with the son of her employer, a local steel mill owner. The romance between Paul and Mary is endangered when Mary's family and friends, all steel mill workers, go on strike against Paul's father.

The film was nominated for two Academy Awards for Best Actress in a Leading Role (Greer Garson) and Best Music, Scoring of a Dramatic or Comedy Picture.

Garson was partnered with Clark Gable in the film, Adventure (1945). based on the novel The Anointed by Clyde Brion Davis. Clark Gable and Greer Garson star as a sailor and a librarian. It was Gable's first postwar film and the tag line repeated in the movie's famous trailer was "Gable's back and Garson's got him!" It was directed by Victor Fleming, one of Gable's favorite directors.

Garson's career began to fade in 1940s and made only a few films after her MGM contract expired in 1954. In 1960, Garson received her seventh and final Oscar nomination for Sunrise at Campobello, in which she played Eleanor Roosevelt, this time losing to Elizabeth Taylor for Butterfield 8.

Greer was special guest on an TV episode of Father Knows Best playing herself.

Garson's last film, in 1967, was Disney's The Happiest Millionaire. In 1968, she narrated the television special, The Little Drummer Boy.


  1. Well done, in-depth article. My favorite Greer Garson films are Random Harvest & Mrs Parkington.

  2. Shaik said...
    Wow, Thanks for the sharing! Absolutely is is a unique post, lovely to find your blog. I am feeling so exciting!

  3. Shaik, Thank you for stopping by. Please do not post links in your comments...

  4. Thank you Gilby, Mr. Chips, was my first Greer Garson film experience and ever since then I have been a huge Greer Garson fan.

  5. What a terrific birthday tribute to Greer Garson, Dawn. Just amazing!

  6. Thank you Monty, I have been working on it for weeks.


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