Wright Museum to Host Donna Reed Film Festival

In August and September, Wright Museum will host a film festival on Oscar-Winning actress, Donna Reed.

The festival will begin with See Here Private Hargrove on Tuesday, August 13. The Human Comedy will be shown on August 20 followed by They were Expendable on August 27 and From Here to Eternity on September 3. 

The festival, according to museum Executive Director Mike Culver, is not only notable because of the iconic status of the movies themselves, but due to the fact Reed’s own daughter will be present.

“We are thrilled to have Mary Owen here,” he said.

Although she won’t be able to make it to every screening, Owen expressed excitement in  speaking at and introducing the first film of the festival.

“I wish I lived closer,” she said. “I would join you all for each screening, as I never tire of seeing her work on the big screen.”

Whereas See Here Private Hargrove will be shown at Wolfeboro Towne Hall, the other films will be screened at Wright Museum’s movie theater. 

In speaking on the festival’s deeper meaning and accompanying Donna Reed exhibit (open through October 31) Culver said it reveals how every homefront American of that era — even movie stars — did their part for the war.”

“Like many of the Hollywood stars of the period, she received many letters from servicemen,” he said. “Many even wrote that she was like the girl they had left behind and that she was what they were fighting for.”

Reed began her acting career in the 1940s and was only 20 when the war started — the same age as many of the servicemen. 

According to Owen, Reed personally replied to every letter she received. After her passing in 1986, Owen said she found more than 350 of the letters the servicemen had written her mother, which are now featured in the exhibit.

“It will no doubt be very emotional seeing mom’s letters,” she said. “I’ve been living with them since 2007, but it will be a very emotional experience seeing them on display.” 

When asked how she hopes people remember her mother, Owen highlighted her patriotism.

“I would want them to remember her as an actress who cared deeply about her country and used her influence to that end,” she said. “And that, no matter who she portrayed in her films and the TV show, she represented the American heart.”

The region’s leading resource for educators and learners of all ages on World War II, the Wright Museum features more than 14,000 items in its collection that are representative of both the homefront and battlefield.