Synopsis by Hal Erickson
The usual modus operandi for Hollywood "through the years" sagas was to gradually age its young actors in the course of the film. In Mrs. Parkington, 35-year-old Greer Garson appears in old-lady makeup for virtually the entire 124-minute running time, even though this filmization of Louis Bromfield's best-selling novel covers the years 1875 through 1938. Eightyish widow Mrs. Susie Parkington (Garson) gathers together all of her grown children in an effort to bail out son-in-law Amory Stilham (Edward Arnold), who's gotten in Dutch through crooked financial deals. As the children and grandchildren bicker over the "impossibility" of giving up any part of their inheritance, Mrs. Parkington's mind wanders back to her marriage to wealthy mine owner Maj. Augustus Parkington (Walter Pidgeon) and her own efforts, as an unlearned Nevada serving girl, to fit into proper Manhattan society. Augustus' ex-love Aspasia Conti (Agnes Moorehead, in a surprisingly sexy role) is engaged to teach Susie the in and outs of which fork to use and how low to curtsy. Shut out by the "400," Susie is avenged by her husband, who wheels and deals to ruin the snobs financially. Later on, he assuages his anger by conducting several extramarital affairs, before perishing in one of those convenient movie auto accidents. Just how all these incidents strengthen Mrs. Parkington's resolve to rescue her wastrel son-in-law is a mystery that even two viewings of this overlong soap opera may not solve. Incidentally, Greer Garson isn't the only one who is prematurely aged in Mrs. Parkington; keep an eye out for 27-year-old Hans Conried, convincingly playing a doddering musician.
betrayal, boarding-house, dynasty, family, loot, maid, marriage, millionaire, rags-to-riches, socialite, wealth