Tuesday’s Overlooked: Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day (2008)

This week’s overlooked selection is a film I have only recently had the pleasure of seeing, and am all the happier for the experience. Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day is a “classic Hollywood-styled” romantic comedy directed by British television/film director Bharat Nalluri. The story is based on a 1938 novel of the same name and adapted for the screen by co-writers by David Magee (Life of Pi) and Simon Beaufoy (Slumdog Millionaire, The Full Monty).

As I mentioned above, Miss Pettigrew is a charming film that harkens to cinema of a bygone era. I instantly think about Frank Capra’s Lady for a Day and its “remake” Pocketful of Miracles (the latter starring Bette Davis), where the audience sees the transformation of a down and out middle-aged woman.

While the circumstances and particulars are slightly different (here the titular Miss Pettigrew is a down on her luck English nanny who mistakenly is assigned a new “charge” in the form of American entertainer Delysia Lafosse), but the end results are the same. One of the things that make Miss Pettrigrew stand out is its talented cast, headed by the wonderful Frances McDormand (Miss Pettigrew) and Amy Adams (Delysia Lafosse). The supporting cast includes Lee Pace (a slight revelation for me here), Shirley Henderson, Ciaran Hinds and Mark Strong.

As a fan of classic and contemporary cinema, I constantly ask myself how successfully a film’s time and place can be replicated without coming across as too forced, anachronistic or lacking in charm. Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day does not suffer from any of these issues in my opinion. It was obviously made by someone who understands the genre that charmed audiences in the 1930s and 1940s.

Check out Miss Pettigrew‘s Photo Gallery below:

Be sure to take a look at some other cinematic highlights for the week on Todd Mason’s blog Sweet Freedom.


  1. My wife and I watched this last year and very much enjoyed it. The film is an overlooked gem.
    le0pard13 recently posted..Tales from the (Movie) Theater: Of Westerns, Dramas, and JAWS (Part 9)My Profile

  2. Hi, iluv:

    Great choice and critique for an overlooked film!

    A neat little product of the old Ealing studios. Which are a slice of time for most film buffs. Uniquely detailed and oozing with mood and glimpses at the British WWII and beyond class system. Well brought to life by Frances McDormand and a stellar cast.

    Very nicely done!

  3. Thanks…this is an utterly charming film, and I’ll take these principals over Bette Davis every minute of every day…or even for just one day…
    Todd Mason recently posted..Tuesday’s Overlooked Films and/or Other A/V: the linksMy Profile

  4. Patti Abbott says:

    I have never found another person who saw this. I liked it too. Frances McDormand is underused in Hollywood, isn’t she?

  5. Oooh, I quite like this one. I fell for Lee Pace even more here, how he’s not a movie star by now is beyond me!!
    ruth recently posted..Weekend Roundup … Dragon Knight review + Musings on Matt DamonMy Profile

  6. I must demur. And obviously I am very much in the minority on this one, Iba.

    I disliked this film intensely. It was such a visceral reaction on my part that I am tempted to see the film again to see what it was about it (specifically) that I disliked so much. And this from someone who is a major fan of golden age screwball and/or romantic comedies.

    One of the main things I remember is that for most of the movie I could not understand a word that Amy Adams spouted. Is she English or was that a put-on accent? I usually have no trouble understanding any accent, but I was lost at sea with her garbling. I so wanted to love this movie. It sounded like just the thing for me. I like Frances McDormand very much and she, at any rate, did a good job. But jeez, this movie just rang so hollow for me. I don’t think I even finished it.

    Can we still be friends? 🙂

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