Goodbye, Mr. Chips (1939)

Robert Donat won an Oscar for best actor as the long-serving classics master in this sentimental saga of public-school duty and devotion.

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Film details

Introduction

“Donat’s performance as Chips has gravity and distance. He has stood the test of time without dating in the slightest.”
Andrew Sarris, The Village Voice, 1975

In 1936, Hollywood major MGM acquired the studios at Denham in Buckinghamshire to serve the international market with films capitalising on British settings and subject matter. Subsequent offerings included 1938’s A Yank at Oxford, and this adaptation of James Hilton’s bestselling 1934 novel, tracing a reserved Latin teacher’s decades of faithful service at a venerable English public school.

A hugely effective tear-jerker, moving through personal tragedy towards a touching affirmation of a life’s worth, the film blends Hollywood storytelling expertise and British acting prowess. Greer Garson shines as the woman who broadens the sheltered protagonist’s horizons, yet the film belongs to Robert Donat, who ages convincingly and movingly conveys the deep well of humanity behind Mr Chipping’s crusty exterior.

The 1969 musical remake, starring Peter O’Toole, was scripted by Terence Rattigan, whose play The Browning Version (filmed in 1951 and 1994) is another touching story of a public-school master.

Cast & Credits

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