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Sunday, November 13, 2011

Sunday Movie Review: "Mrs. Parkington" (1944)

Keeping with the theme of my Greer Garson obsession, I have one of her movies for this SMR. Actually, I wasn't sure whether to review this or "My Man Godfrey" (1936), but I decided to go with this one. There isn't much to say about the latter except it's a brilliant, adorable screwball comedy, Carole Lombard and William Powell were magnificent, and you really ought to see it.


The poster: Nothing spectacular, but that's a pretty portrait of Miss Greer there. 

The plot:
In this family saga, Mrs. Parkington recounts the story of her life, beginning as a hotel maid in frontier Nevada where she is swept off her feet by mine owner and financier Augustus Parkington. He moves them to New York, tries to remake her into a society woman, and establishes their home among the wealthiest of New York's high society. Family and social life is not always peaceful, however, and she guides us, in flashbacks, through the rises and falls of the Parkington family fortunes. [from IMdb]

The starring players:
  • Greer Garson as Susie "Sparrow" Parkington
  • Walter Pidgeon as Major Augustus Parkington
  • Agnes Moorehead as Baroness Aspasia Conti
The verdict:
3.5 / 5
I have mixed feelings about this film! One of the first things I noticed when I began to watch it was, "Oh, no, Greer's playing an old woman!" And then in succession: "Oh no, Greer's gone brunette!" (Not like there's anything wrong with the latter - I mean, I'm a brunette myself but don't we all love to see Greer with her glorious red hair even if you couldn't really see it anyway because it's in black and white, but that's besides the point.). However, I tried not to let these things bother me and continued into the movie. I must say I liked this movie because it was sweet. It's always fun to see Greer as an American girl for me -;) and I get a one up! She was of course excellent as she usually is, I'm really appreciating her refined style of acting (among the many reasons I now adore her).  Not to mention that her character was really likable. And though at first I thought it was crazy for her to be in the old woman get up, I was watching this on my iPod, on Youtube, in fuzzy black and white so things turned out okay for me there. I'm alright with the idea now because I think it gave depth to her character, the movie being in flashbacks. Oh, and as for the brunette part - she was still gorgeous and I got used to it as the movie moved on (but still glad she returned to red after this). 

As for Walter Pidgeon: he I am also gaining a greater fondness for, though not exactly head over heels like I did with Greer. :D Still, I liked him and he and Greer always have excellent chemistry so no wonder they were paired so often together. As for his character, his character was much bolder and at times slightly harder to like, but at the end of the day you knew he meant well so I accepted it. Agnes Moorehead, who I love of course, I simply adored as the Baroness Aspasia. She bounced off some great lines. There were some other minor actors who played members of the Parkington family, but they were all kind of unlikable so won't get into them. 

Since I really enjoyed the performances of the three main characters, most of the problems I had with this movie fell in it's script and the like. The flashbacks seemed somewhat random and rough at points, and so did the plot line. Keep in mind that this film spawns sixty years or so, and so if you don't like those kind of movies steer clear. Because of that at times the plot seemed a little hard to follow, not to mention you had the contrasting storylines of what was happening in flashback world and what was happening in the present day (some corruption plot involving a Parkington family member due to a niece wanting to run away with her boyfriend?). I wish all of this had been slightly cleaner.

And it is slightly ridiculous when, a certain point in the movie, Greer runs into the jolly old Prince of Wales. Never good when famous people randomly pop up in movies. ;) So for some of those reasons, I cannot give this movie four stars. But it's not to say I didn't enjoy the movie - it was entertaining, to me it was kind of "Giant" except with a New York society setting. Well acted by the main players (of course), so most of the issues fall in the way the plot was conducted. But over all I did like it and I wouldn't discourage you to watch it.

The bottom line:
If you are a fan of the main players you will be able to enjoy and like this movie. If you're just in the mood to watch a movie and give this a try, you'll probably enjoy yourself all the while but the annoyances you'll find in the plot, etc., will become relevant. 

Some photos:

Some trivia:
  • The fourth of the eight movies that Greer and Walter did
  • Lux Radio Theater did a radio adaption of this in November 1946, with Greer and Walter reprising their roles
A movie tidbit:

You can watch the full movie here.


That's all for now, folks! I hope you enjoyed the review and have a good start into the week. :)


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