The Browning Version (1951 film)
|The Browning Version|
Redgrave on the cover of
The Criterion Collection DVD release of The Browning Version
|Directed by||Anthony Asquith|
|Produced by||Teddy Baird
Earl St. John
|Written by||Terence Rattigan|
|Music by||Arnold Bax
Kenneth Essex (both uncredited stock music)
|Edited by||John D. Guthridge|
|Distributed by||General Film Distr. (UK)
Andrew Crocker-Harris is an aging Classics master at an English public school, and is forced into retirement by his increasing ill health. The film, in common with the original stage play, follows the schoolmaster's final few days in his post, as he comes to terms with his sense of failure as a teacher, a sense of weakness exacerbated by his wife's infidelity and the realization that he is despised by both pupils and staff of the school.
The emotional turning-point for the cold Crocker-Harris is his pupil Taplow's unexpected parting gift, Robert Browning's translation of the Agamemnon, which he has inscribed with the Greek phrase that translates as "God from afar looks graciously upon a gentle master."
Differences between play and film
Rattigan extends the screenplay far from his own one-act play, which ends on Crocker-Harris's tearful reaction to Taplow's gift. Therefore, the play ends well before Crocker-Harris's farewell speech to the school; the film shows the speech, in which he discards his notes and admits his failings, to be received with warm applause and cheers by the boys. The film ends with a conversation between Crocker-Harris and Taplow, and the suggestion that Crocker-Harris will complete his translation of the Agamemnon.
- Michael Redgrave as the embittered Andrew Crocker-Harris
- Jean Kent as his wife Millie
- Nigel Patrick as her lover Frank Hunter, Andrew's fellow schoolmaster who eventually rejects Millie for her cruelty towards her husband
- Ronald Howard as Gilbert, Crocker-Harris's successor
- Wilfrid Hyde-White as the Headmaster
- Brian Smith as Taplow
- Bill Travers as Fletcher
- Judith Furse as Mrs. Williamson
- Peter Jones as Carstairs
- Sarah Lawson as Betty Carstairs
- Scott Harold as Rev. Williamson
- Paul Medland as Wilson
- Ivan Samson as Lord Baxter
- Josephine Middleton as Mrs. Frobisher
Rattigan and Asquith encountered a lack of enthusiasm from producers to turn the play into a film until they met Earl St John at Rank.
"I started out as manager of a small out-of-town cinema, and I viewed films from the out-of-London angle," said St John. "This experience made me realise that the ordinary people in the remotest places in the country were entitled to see the works of the best modern British playwrights." The film was shot at Pinewood Studios. The school exteriors were filmed on location at the Sherborne School in Sherborne, Dorset.
The Greek text that appears on the blackboard in Crocker-Harris's classroom is from the Agamemnon. Apparently a description of Menelaus's despair after his abandonment by Helen, the lines were translated by Robert Browning thus:
"And, through desire of one across the main,
A ghost will seem within the house to reign.
And hateful to the husband is the grace
Of well-shaped statues: from—in place of eyes
Those blanks—all Aphrodite dies."
- "FILMS REVIEWED Another "Mr. Chips".". The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 - 1957) (Melbourne, Vic.: National Library of Australia). 28 April 1951. p. 15. Retrieved 31 October 2015.
- "Festival de Cannes: The Browning Version". festival-cannes.com. Retrieved 2009-01-11.
- "1st Berlin International Film Festival: Prize Winners". berlinale.de. Retrieved 2009-12-21.
- Vermilye, Jerry (1978), The Great British Films, Citadel Press, pp 150–152, ISBN 0-8065-0661-X.
- The Browning Version at the Internet Movie Database
- The Browning Version at AllMovie
- The Browning Version at the TCM Movie Database
- Criterion Collection essay by Geoffrey Macnab on the 1951 film