In my first ranking, Teresa Wright made it right up to position 55 but now she dropped down a few spots for her simply and lovely performance as the ill-fated Carol, Mrs. Miniver’s daughter-in-law, who lives in an idealized England, full of lovely and nice people who have nothing more to say than ‘May I?’, ‘How kind’, ‘Thank you’ and ‘Oh please!’
Teresa Wright is a very natural actress with a lot of personal charm – and it’s mostly this charm that helps her to turn Carol into a very sweet and memorable character. Carol may start out as a fresh and interesting woman but, before you know it, she has been turned into the little wife who fears for the life of her husband during World War II. In this way, Teresa Wright does not play a true character but rather a symbol – Carol seems to stand for all the new young brides who married her love as soon as possible because every day may be the last. In this context, Teresa Wright, despite being charming and lovely, does not really have that much to do apart from either looking happy or worried and the character of Carol might have been more interesting if a less sugar-coated actress had tried a more realistic approach but at the end of the day, Teresa Wright certainly does succeed in her performance.
Unfortunately, Teresa Wright is also an actress who often tends to overdo her expressions – whenever a moment requires a neutral face from her she decides to smile brightly and whenever she is supposed to be a little sad she looks as if somebody just died.
In some ways, Teresa Wright failed to make Carol a truly interesting character – it’s easy to feel sympathy for her and the love story between her and Vin is done as enchanting as possible but, as I said, there is not much to the role except smiles and tears. But, thankfully, Teresa Wright still holds a tight grip to the part and obviously understood her. This is most clear when she is able to show perfectly just the right moment when Carol truly falls in love with Vin and realizes that he is a much more mature character than she had expected – when sirens announce a German attack, Vin immediately starts to take over the situation and even gives orders to Carol’s grandmother. And suddenly, you can see how Carol sees him with different eyes.
Her biggest moment is undoubtedly her speech to her mother-in-law in which she defends her right to be as happy as possible since there could be a lifetime of tears ahead of her.
Teresa Wright does show a woman full of hopes and fears and the performance is extremely easy to like and enjoy and it’s no surprise that she won an Oscar for it but my admiration has cooled down a bit.