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moviejoe79

Mrs. Parkington

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I watched this great movie last Wednesday night, the night before Thanksgiving, and I was surprised at how good it was! I've been meaning to post about it, but I haven't had the opportunity. I was just sitting down in front of the TV (or TCM, I should say, since it's always on), and this movie was starting. Within the first couple of minutes I was hooked. Greer Garson starred in a tour de force performance as Mrs. Parkington, with Walter Pidgeon co-starring as Major Parkington. Both of them were excellent. It also had a great supporting cast, with Edward Arnold playing the corrupt adult son of the Parkington's, and Gladys Cooper as their snobby daughter. It was very interesting to see her in this role, since I really only know her as Bette Davis' horrid aging mother in "Now, Voyager." The real standout in the supporting cast though was Agnes Moorehead. She played a French aristocrat with a heart of gold who's a friend of the Parkington's. I didn't even know it was her at first, since she speaks with such a strong accent, and looks so glamorous. She really was remarkable in this movie, and you can see how great an actress she was.

 

Tay Garnett directed it beautifully, and the production values cannot be beat. It's a top-notch MGM production. The story follows the life of Susie Parkington, played by Garson, who we are introduced to in the movie while she's in her 80's, and we see the story of her life in flashbacks. The story was very well done. It was funny, romantic, heartbreaking, suspenseful, and it just really hooked me. I got so caught up in the lives of "The Parkington's," and what was going to happen to them. And I have to say, Greer Garson was really a fine actress. I've never been a big fan of hers, only because I'm not too familiar with her work. I've seen her in "Pride and Prejudice" and that's about it. I've never even seen "Mrs. Miniver" from start to finish. But I'm definitely going to be watching more of her movies now. And not only did she act well, but she had a very unique beauty, sort of like Claudette Colbert. Very ladylike and sophisticated but in a down to earth kind of way. I can understand now why she was called "The Queen of MGM" after Norma Shearer left the studio. She definitely deserved that title. And Walter Pidgeon was great too as the tough Major Parkington. At first I thought he was a little too old to be playing her husband, but it did work. I think Clark Gable would've been great in that role too, now that I think of it. But Pidgeon was great, and he's another star who I'm not too familiar with, outside of his performance in "The Bad and the Beautiful." They're both stars who I know of, but I've never seen much of their work. Now I'll definitely see more of it.

 

I just wanted to write about the movie, since I love discovering "new" classics on TCM from time to time, and by accident no less. The last time I caught a movie at random on TCM that I wound up loving was a few months ago when I saw "Out of the Fog" with John Garfield, Ida Lupino, and Thomas Mitchell. This was another great movie, which I'm so glad TCM introduced me to.

 

"Mrs. Parkington" will be on again December 6th at 8:30am. If you haven't seen it, try to watch or tape it, because it's well worth seeing.

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Although I think this drama was average, and not as good as another similar Greer Garson film The Valley of Decision, I have always liked the actress. I believe it was Mrs. Miniver, or Goodbye Mr. Chips that first turned me on to her. Garson is great in Mrs. Parkington as well, and so is Agnes Moorehead (who almost looked pretty in several scenes;-) And, it was interested to see Walter Pidgeon (Garson's frequent co-star) playing against type as a rogue, something Gable clearly could have played. I really wasn't interested at all in the "current day" storyline of this film, but the love story between Garson's & Pidgeon's character, which involved Moorehead's, were 'worth the price of admission'. For those who haven't seen it, it is worth catching up with next Tuesday on TCM.

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I remember watching both "Mrs. Parkington" and "Valley of Decision" many years ago, and I liked them very, very much. I think I'll watch them again in the near future. Great post Joe!

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Thanks guys for the replies. And thanks for recommending "The Valley of Decision." I'll have to see it now.

 

I've also heard that "Random Harvest" is pretty good. I think I'll try to see that one first, since I think Garson and Ronald Colman would be great together. I'm anxious to see them act together. And it must be a good movie since it was a winner in the "DVD Decision" poll held by Warners and TCM every year.

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I'm a bit biased just because I am a big fan of Greer Garson and like all her movies, but I think The Valley of Decision and Random Harvest are both two of her best ones. Both are heartbreakingly beautiful and tender. I also love Mrs. Parkington, I actually caught it on TV (though I have seen it several times) when I was home from college. Good movie to come back to. It always seems to me such a long movie just because I guess it goes through so many different time periods. There is one scene that gets me everytime (warning if you haven't seen the movie), it's not really an important scene, but when they host a huge party on the night of the snowstorm...Walter Pidgeon's reaction to that and Greer Garson's faces are magnificent. The pain evdient always gets to me.

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You're right Kimbo, about the party scene in "Mrs. Parkington." Pidgeon thinks that Garson is upset about the fact that almost nobody came, but meanwhile she's thinking of his feelings the whole time. I also think she looked great in that scene, more beautiful than any of the others. I think she really stands out in that scene because it's the first time we really see her done up as a "lady" after marrying Pidgeon. Before that scene she's pretty young and homely looking.

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HI Joe,

 

Thanks for writing about this movie and loving it......

 

I know it was Agnes Moorehead's favourite movie and she did look lovely in it and she had a nice role.

In real life, she was also a glamourous woman always beautifully dressed as befits a lady; except when she got gardening, then she got down and dirty. We even made mud-pies once and she dared me to eat one and I did. Then she said to me laughing, "I hope that isn't from the part of the garden where they spead the manure yesterday!!"...... She was just joking -- I think!!!

 

She also liked this movie because she became good friends with Greer Garson, who was a little more intelligent than some others. And Agnes was very smart, she used to be a teacher.

 

Well, just thought I'd check in with you. Hope you're well.

 

Larry

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Hi Larry -

 

It's nice to know that this was Agnes Moorehead's favorite movie. I can understand why, since she was so good in it. And I have no doubt that she was glamourous in real life. But I always see her as Charles Foster Kane's mother, or as the housekeeper in "Hush, Hush, Sweet Charlotte." Even in "Dark Passage" she looks evil, since her character is, even though she's dressed well. But in "Mrs. Parkington" she was just totally different. She was not only glamourous, but she played such a sweet, sympathetic character, and it was nice to see.

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