Thursday, March 24, 2011

Greer Garson in Mrs. Parkington

Greer Garson received her fifth Best Actress nomination for playing the title role of the movie Mrs. Parkington. Thinking about the competition in 1944 is not very easy. Ingrid's win was pretty settled as she lost the previous year, had a huge role. I imagine that Greer was quite probably fourth or fifth because although she was the major Oscar favorite, she had much more successful movies for which she lost. So, she didn't have much of a chance of winning.

Mrs. Parkington is almost NEVER talked about and the things that I've read weren't that positive. Therefore, I was prepared for a very boring movie. I felt that something like Blossoms in the Dust would be just fine. And boy, I was so surprised when I was watching it. The story is so gripping and absorbing, the movie is minimally sentimental and predictable. The whole thing is really enjoyable and entertaining. It's a hard-to-find movie but it's worth waiting for it, I think. I think the actors give quite good performances. Although Agnes Moorehead's accent is a bit too much (she was no Meryl Streep at accents, to put it kindly), she's actually quite good and she just might have deserved the nomination.

Greer Garson was such an interesting actress. In many ways, she's like Deborah Kerr. Quiet, dignified and subtle. However, Greer is somehow very natural and she's not artificial like Kerr. Greer Garson was the best at playing strong women in a very 40s sense and yet her acting style doesn't seem dated at all. I'm sure some disagree with me but I always admire Greer's talent even though none of her performances blew me away yet. Still, I always love that she radiates the screen with her presence. The Academy also fell in love with her. She was very much like Meryl Streep in the 80s. They nominated her for everything as she was an actress at the peak of her career and she just couldn't do wrong.

In Mrs. Parkington, Greer Garson plays Susie 'Sparrow' Parkington, a woman who becomes a rich wife and a matriarch of a famous family. And she's simply wonderful as Susie. When I read the title, I thought this would be Mrs. Miniver part 11 but it really isn't. Although Mrs. Parkington and Mrs. Miniver have got a lot in common, they are quite different characters and Greer approached them very differently. There's much more lightness and humor in Susie and Greer seems to be enjoying this part much more. I always saw that she was doing it with real joy and she just loved it. This kind of affection/dedication always pays off and it really impressed me.

As I said, Greer had this very subtle and dignified acting style, which cannot really copied. She has this luminous presence that becomes so absorbing after a while and it really makes even the most shallow roles very interesting. Whenever Greer got to play a well-written character who actually had some depth, Greer could do miracles with it. Even when she has an extremely sentimental movie like Blossoms in the Dust, she's able to create something utterly wonderful with it. I think it's the word wonderful that fits Greer the best. I often associate gold with this expression and Greer Garson was pure gold, a true treasure of cinema.

For some of the performance, Greer has very heavy make-up as she has to play an 84-year-old. She's not ridiculous at all, though. On the contrary, she handles these scenes with the elderly Susie the best. There's so much wisdom and love in her eyes and you can just spot the experience and kindness inside Susie. Greer made all these great qualities look very natural and they don't seem to be forced at all. Again, it's so wonderful.

Susie goes through a major transformation throughout the movie and Greer's just excellent at showing all these changes in her. I was so happy that it did not have the "Am rich but inside I'm jus' a country girl" mentality because thatcan give me creeps sometimes. Everything is very realistic in this performance and there wasn't a single moment when I thought that it was overly sentimental. Greer also perfectly found the balance between the drama and the comedy in this character. Plus, Greer's legendary chemistry with Walter Pidgeon is really great in this movie. One just keeps wondering why they weren't married in real life. :)

So, after all, I can say that I was so pleasantly surprised and impressed by this performance of the wonderful Greer Garson. Although she did not blow me away totally, I was utterly mesmerized by her unique presence and talent. Garson illuminates the screen with her radiant self and charisma and she creates a wonderful performance as Susie Parkington. Excellent work, which should be much more frequently talked about.

Wow, Greer was just great! If you want to have a great time, watch Mrs. Parkington here.

What do you think?


joe burns said...

I'm surprised, I guess she'll be 2nd or third. Thanks for the link!

That makes this year possible for me!

Anyway, could you do 1995 or 1996 next?

Anonymous said...

I definitely have to see this, great review!

dinasztie said...

Joe: Well, I planned my next year, but it will be very short, so after that I get round to doing one of them if I get the movies.

Alex in Movieland said...

as usual, I think you are being way too generous :)

I've seen this and she fine when playing old, but other than that: nothing special really :)

you might go 4 Ingrid.

MK Collier said...

Well, it was on the television a couple of weeks ago and I recorded it. Don't remember why I even sat down to see it unless it was to convince people I can enjoy old movies. I've watched it now about five times. I am as you said mezmorized by Ms Garson and Mr. Pigeon. They adored each other throughout and I loved watching them. I admired Susie's strength and wisdom. It was an easy movie to watch although I'm still trying to piece the entire family relations together. Can't figure out yet who Avery (?), Jane or Mattie are kin to. It was a sweet story and it ended in Hollywood style, with her cleaning house so to speak, then ascending to the top of the staircase. She's on a pedestal in my eyes. I enjoyed reading your opinion and very much agree.