Oscar Movies: Mrs. Parkington (1944)–Greer Garson in Heavy Make-Up as Old Woman

In this melodrama, directed by Tay Garnett, MGM’s favorite star of the 1940s, Greer Garson, plays a poor American woman who marries into wealth (husband is Walter Pidgeon), determined to conquer Victorian society.

Garson, then 35, ages in the course of the story; she appears in old-lady makeup for most of the time. The tale, based on Louis Bromfield’s best-selling novel, spans from 1875 to 1938.

Mrs. Susie Parkington (Garson) invites all of her grown children in an effort to bail out son-in-law Amory Stilham (Edward Arnold), who’s gotten into problems due to crooked financial deals.

As the children and grandchildren argue over their inheritance, Mrs. Parkington’s mind wanders back to her marriage to wealthy mine owner Major Augustus Parkington (Pidgeon) and her own efforts, as an uneducated Nevada girl, to fit into proper Manhattan society.

Augustus’ ex-love Aspasia Conti (Agnes Moorehead, in a surprisingly sexy role, which garnered her a Supporting Actress Oscar nomination is assigned to instruct Susie in manner of upper class society.

Shut out, Susie is avenged by her husband, who wheels and deals to ruin the snobs financially. Later on, he engages in several extramarital affairs, before perishing in a car accident.

These incidents have strengthened Mrs. Parkington’s resolve to rescue her wastrel son-in-law

Oscar Nominations: 2

Actress: Greer Garson

Supporting Actress: Agnes Moorehead

Oscar Context:

The winner of Best Actress was Ingrid Bergman for “Gaslight.” Ethel Barrymore won the Supporting Actress Oscar for “None But the Lonely Heart.”

Running time: 123 minutes

DVD: July 21, 1993