Blossoms in the Dust (MGM 1941 with Greer Garson and Walter Pidgeon)

USA / MGM / 99 minutes / 1941 Filmed in technicolor

Writer: Anita Loos, from a story by Ralph Wheelwright / Cinematography: Karl Freund / Music: Herbert Stothart / Director: Mervyn LeRoy

Cast:Greer Garson, Walter Pidgeon, Felix Bressart, Marsha Hunt, Fay Holden, Samuel S Hinds

This hugely successful, glossy woman’s picture confirmed GREER GARSON as a superstar and underlined MGM’s box-office wisdom in teaming her with WALTER PIDGEON. The real life story of Edna Gladney (Garson) the founder and head of the Texas Children’s Home and Aid Society, formed the basis of the heavily romanticised screenplay by Anita Loos, based on the story by Ralph Wheelwright. While the facts were not always adhered to the result was dramatically effective, with Garson, rapidly wooed by Texan farmer Pidgeon. However the subsequent marriage and their idyllic happiness together is destroyed by the death of their young child in an accident.

Garson, inconsolable because of her inability to have more children, embarks on a feverish social whirl to assuage her grief until her doctor – who calls upon her in the middle of a party – asks if he can leave a little orphan girl with her for the night. As a result of that act Garson starts a day nursery and she and Pidgeon devote themselves to the cause of orphans, unwanted babies and, in particular, to those children who are illegitimate. But when Pidgeon’s business suddenly fails and he dies, Garson is left to ensure the good work continues. Donations pour in and, helped by doctor FELIX BRESSART, her work prospers and she succeeds in finding homes for the children in her care, and even, despite concerted opposition, manages to have the stigma of the entry of “illegitimacy” removed from the Texas State records.

Mervyn LeRoy’s sensitive direction was ideally suited to the subject and Blossoms in the Dust also earned an Academy Award nomination for Best Film.