Goodbye, Mr. Chips (1939 film)

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Goodbye, Mr. Chips
Goodbye, Mr. Chips (1939 film) poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Sam Wood
Produced by Victor Saville
Screenplay by
Based on Goodbye, Mr. Chips 
by James Hilton
Starring
Music by Richard Addinsell
Cinematography Freddie Young
Editing by Charles Frend
Studio
Distributed by MGM
Release dates
  • 15 May 1939 (1939-05-15) (UK)
Running time 114 minutes
Country United Kingdom
Language English
Budget $1,051,000[1]
Box office $3,252,000[1]

Goodbye, Mr. Chips is a 1939 British romantic drama film directed by Sam Wood and starring Robert Donat and Greer Garson. Based on the 1934 novel Goodbye, Mr. Chips by James Hilton, the film is about an aged school teacher and former headmaster of a boarding school who recalls his career and his personal life over the decades.[2][3] Produced for the British division of MGM at Denham Studios, Goodbye, Mr. Chips was voted the 72nd greatest British film ever in the BFI Top 100 British films poll.

Plot[edit]

In 1933, Mr Chipping (Robert Donat), a retired schoolteacher of 83, is kept home by a cold. He falls asleep and his school teaching career is related in flashback.

When 20-year-old Charles Edward Chipping first arrives as a Latin teacher to Brookfield Public School in 1870, he becomes a target of many practical jokes. He reacts by imposing strict discipline in his classroom, making him respected, but disliked. Times passes and his relationship with his pupils improves and eventually he becomes the senior master. At the end of one year, he is disappointed in not receiving an appointment as the house master within the school for the following year. However, the German teacher, Max Staefel (Paul Henreid), saves him from despair by inviting him to share a walking holiday to his native Austria. While mountain climbing, Chipping encounters Kathy Ellis (Greer Garson), a feisty English suffragette on a cycling holiday. They meet again in Vienna and dance to the Blue Danube Waltz. This piece of music is used as a leitmotif, symbolising Chipping's love for her. Chipping remarks that the Danube appears blue, but only to those who are in love. On another part of the same boat, as Kathy looks at the river, she notices that it is blue. Even though Kathy is considerably younger and livelier than Chipping, she loves and marries him. They return to England, where Kathy takes up residence at the school, charming everyone with her warmth.

During their tragically short marriage (she dies in childbirth, along with their baby), she brings Mr Chips out of his shell and shows him how to be a better teacher. He acquires a flair for Latin puns. As the years pass, Chips becomes a much-loved school institution, developing a rapport with generations of pupils; he teaches the sons and grandsons of many of his earlier pupils.

In 1909, when pressured to retire by a more "modern" headmaster, the boys and the board of governors of the school take his side of the argument and tell him he can stay until he is 100, and is free to pronounce Cicero as SIS-er-ro, and not as KEE-kir-ro.

Chips finally retires in 1914 at age 64, but is summoned back to serve as interim headmaster because of the shortage of teachers resulting from the First World War. He remembers Kathy had predicted he would become headmaster one day. During a bombing attack by a German zeppelin, Chips insists that the boys keep on translating their Latin - choosing the story of Julius Caesar's battles against Germanic tribes, which describes the latter's belligerent nature, much to the amusement of his pupils. As the Great War drags on, Chips reads aloud into the school's Roll of Honour every Sunday the names of the many former boys and teachers who have died in battle. Upon finding out that Max Staefel has died fighting on the German side, Chips also reads out his name in chapel.

He retires permanently in 1918. He is on his deathbed in 1933 when he overhears his friends talking about him. He responds, "I thought you said it was a pity, a pity I never had children. But you're wrong. I have! Thousands of them, thousands of them – and all boys."

Cast[edit]

  • Robert Donat as Mr. Chips M.A. (Cantab.). The 34-year-old Donat ages 63 years (1870-1933) over the course of the film. He remarked: "As soon as I put the moustache on, I felt the part, even if I did look like a great airedale come out of a puddle."
  • Greer Garson as Katherine. Garson was initially offered a contract for MGM in 1937, but refused all the minor parts she was offered until she was given this role.
  • Lyn Harding as Dr John Hamilton Wetherby D.D. (Cantab.), headmaster of Brookfield when Chips first arrives.
  • Paul Henreid as Max Staeffel M.A. (Oxon.), the German master.
  • Terry Kilburn as John Colley, Peter Colley I, II and III, several generations of pupils from the same family taught by Mr. Chips
  • John Mills as Peter Colley as an adult
  • Scott Sunderland as Sir John Colley
  • David Croft as Perkins - Greengrocer's boy (uncredited)
  • David Tree as Mr Jackson B.A. (Cantab.), new history master at Brookfield.
  • Simon Lack as Wainwright

Filming locations[edit]

The exteriors of the buildings of the fictional Brookfield School were shot at Repton School,[4][5] an independent school (at the time of filming, for boys only), located in the village of Repton, in Derbyshire, in the Midlands area of England, whilst the interiors, school courtyards and annexes, including the supposedly exterior shots of the Austrian Tyrol Mountains, were filmed at Denham Film Studios[6] near the village of Denham in Buckinghamshire. Around 200 boys from Repton School stayed on during the school holidays so that they could appear in the film.[7]

Score[edit]

Richard Addinsell's score for the film has been included in a CD of his work. The liner notes of the CD include the lyrics for the Brookfield School song which is heard over the beginning cast credits as well as throughout the film itself. The lyrics in the body of the film are all but unintelligible, but per the notes, the lyrics are as follows:

Let the years pass but our hearts will remember,
Schooldays at Brookfield ended too soon.
Fight to the death in the mire of November,
Last wicket rattles on evenings in June,
Grey granite walls that were gay with our laughter,
Green of the fields where our feet used to roam.
We shall remember, whate’er may come after,
Brookfield our mother and Brookfield our home.

Box Office[edit]

According to MGM records the film earned $1,717,000 in the US and Canada and $1,535,000 elsewhere resulting in a profit of $1,305,000.[1]

Academy Awards and nominations[edit]

The film was nominated for seven Academy Awards for Outstanding Production, Best Director, Actor, Actress, Best Writing, Screenplay, Best Film Editing, and Best Sound.[8] It was up against Gone with the Wind in all seven categories; Robert Donat won for Best Actor, beating out Clark Gable, but Goodbye, Mr. Chips lost to Gone With the Wind in five of the six remaining categories. (Best Sound went to the otherwise undistinguished When Tomorrow Comes.)

Award Result Nominee
Outstanding Production Nominated Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (Victor Saville, producer)
Winner was Gone with the Wind (Selznick International Pictures (David O. Selznick, producer))
Best Director Nominated Sam Wood
Winner was Victor FlemingGone with the Wind
Best Actor Won Robert Donat
Best Actress Nominated Greer Garson
Winner was Vivien LeighGone with the Wind
Best Writing, Screenplay Nominated R. C. Sherriff, Claudine West, Eric Maschwitz
Winner was Sidney HowardGone with the Wind
Best Film Editing Nominated Charles Frend
Winner was Hal C. Kern and James E. NewcomGone with the Wind
Best Sound, Recording Nominated A. W. Watkins
Winner was Bernard B. BrownWhen Tomorrow Comes

1969 remake[edit]

Goodbye, Mr. Chips was remade as a musical in 1969, starring Peter O'Toole and Petula Clark.

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ a b c The Eddie Mannix Ledger, Los Angeles: Margaret Herrick Library, Center for Motion Picture Study .
  2. ^ Variety film review; May 17, 1939, page 12.
  3. ^ Harrison's Reports film review; June 17, 1939, page 94.
  4. ^ Movies made in the Midlands, accessed March 2011
  5. ^ Repton, Derbyshire, accessed March 2011
  6. ^ Goodbye, Mr Chips, accessed March 2011
  7. ^ 1930s: A year of tragedy and war worries, accessed March 2011
  8. ^ "The 12th Academy Awards (1940) Nominees and Winners". oscars.org. Retrieved 2011-08-11. 

External links[edit]

Streaming audio