Down The Rabbit Hole of War

December 4, 2006

I was so prepared to hate Mrs. Miniver. I was so waiting for it to be dreary, preachy, weepy, propaganda-ie. I was so wrong. Somewhat. Because there are dreary, preachy, weepy proagand-ie parts, but on whole it’s not a totally bad movie. Or at least, not as bad as I thought it would be. Or maybe, simply put, 1942 was a really slim year for good movies. Yankee Doodle Dandy is a cute little history of Broadway’s early days–and Jimmy Cagney’s hamming and hoofing is always a pleasure. Pride of the Yankees spins a good yarn; it’s one of my favorite baseball movies, ever. And that’s the cream of the crop: the rest of the class of ’42 is dreck. I guess everyone in Hollywood was too busy concentrating on the war, not on making good movies. Thank heavens they forget about all that conflicty stuff once 1943 rolled around.

William Wyler is a good director. He will always tell you a story, even if the story isn’t there. And I swear the first hour or so of Mrs. Miniver was truly registering on the Cavalcade boring scale (what is it with movies made about Britain that Hollywood adores? why are they usually such dreadful bores?) and then, pow, the German soldier shows up in Mrs. Miniver’s garden. That was good. And Teresa Wright was good. But she’s always good. Shadow of a Doubt is my favorite Alfred Hitchcock movies, ever. If you’ve never seen it, you need to. But try and see, or at least read the play Our Town first. Trust me on this.

Thing we want to remember:

  • The Dunkirk evacuation was amazing. My mom was telling us before the scene started what they had to do to rescue 400,000 people in danger. It’s an amazing story. http://news.bbc.co.uk/onthisday/hi/dates/stories/june/4/newsid_3500000/3500865.stm . They don’t actually show it in this move, if this were a more manly war picture this maneuver would probably been the main focus. But it’s a woman’s war picture; we just see all the pretty boats.
  • Things to do whilst in a bomb shelter: Read Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland aloud, drink tea, knit.
  • This movie was made in 1942. The war ended in 1945. The worst was yet to come.
  • What happened to the cat?
  • Why do I always worry about the pets in old movies?

Things we really would like to see (ok not “we” me):

  • Greer Garson’s Oscar acceptance speech. Miss Garson is on record for having given the longest Academy award acceptance speech ever. It’s been clocked at somewhere between five to seven minutes long. Yowza. The DVD special features has a teasing portion of the epic speech, but it was only about 45 seconds long. And it’s a looooong 45 seconds. Joan Fontaine was rubbing her eyes. And I read that Greer was blathering on so much Joan actually sat down. Hee. Why only 45 seconds, DVD? Why?

For dinner I tried to find something English from the 1940’s but failed: I couldn’t find a deflavorizing machine. <insert rimshot> Instead we had a nice sauteed sole with a butter-lemon sauce (not Dover sole like I promised. Couldn’t find that, either).This was a recipe from the Galloping Gourmet (remember him?)

Preheat oven to 350

Dredge filets in flour. Season with salt and pepper. Heat pan with about 2 T olive oil until smoking

Sautee filets for about 2 minutes a side, until golden brown. Put the pan in the oven for about 4 minutes to finish.

For the sauce:

Melt 2 tablespoons of butter until it starts to turn brown, add 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice and about 2 tablespoons freshly minced parsley, simmer while the fish cooks.

Put the fish on a plate and lightly cover with sauce. Easy! Tasty! Healthy! (except for the butter)

We also had some steamed green beans and roasted potatoes. Very simple. We should of had some tinned sardines, but no one like those.

For dessert we had the easiest trifle ever. Once again, unashamedly, I turned to Rachael Ray. For her five minute trifle. So easy. So fast. So good.

1 package ladyfingers (I couldn’t find ladyfingers at the store; I used a sherry spiked sponge cake instead)

3 tablespoons Sherry or orange liqueur (see above)

1/2 cup raspberry all fruit spread or preserves (try to find a really good jam. A jam so good it has a gross name, just like that old Saturday Night Live sketch. (“Mangled Baby Ducks. That’s right, Mangled Baby Ducks! Picture a jam so good that you’d dare to call it Mangled Baby Ducks! Great Jam! It’s beautiful jam! ” LOL)
1 package instant vanilla pudding mix
1 1/2 cups cold milk
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
1 package, 2 ounces, slivered almonds, available on baking aisle
1 pint fresh raspberries

Line a clear medium bowl with separated ladyfingers to cover inside of the bowl completely. Gently press fingers together at seams to set. Sprinkle fingers with sherry or orange liqueur. Spread with the fruit spread.
In a second bowl, combine instant vanilla pudding mix with 1 1/2 cups milk. Pudding will be stiff. Fold in heavy cream until evenly incorporated. Fill bowl with cream pudding and top with almonds and berries.
Trifle is set enough to serve, or may be covered and chilled.


This is really simple, elegant and you’ll get compliments for days.

It’s nice to be back. Can’t wait for next week when we’re like Websters. Morocco bound. Sigh.

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