Tom Brown's School Days (1940 film)

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Tom Brown's School Days
Directed byRobert Stevenson
Produced byC. Graham Baker
Gene Towne
Written byThomas Hughes (novel)
Walter Ferris
Frank Cavett
Gene Towne
C. Graham Baker
Robert Stevenson (add. dialogue)
Based onTom Brown's School Days
by Thomas Hughes
StarringSir Cedric Hardwicke
Freddie Bartholomew
Jimmy Lydon
The Play's The Thing Productions, Inc.
Distributed byRKO Radio Pictures
Release date
  • July 14, 1940 (1940-07-14)
Running time
86 minutes
CountryUnited States

Tom Brown's School Days is a 1940 coming-of-age drama film about a teenage boy's experiences at Rugby School, Warwickshire in the early 19th century under the reforming headmastership of Thomas Arnold. It stars Sir Cedric Hardwicke, Freddie Bartholomew and Jimmy Lydon in the title role. The film was based on the 1857 novel Tom Brown's School Days by Thomas Hughes.

In this version, emphasis is placed on the development of Headmaster Thomas Arnold and his reformist ideas concerning the English public school.[1] It was well received by critics, with Variety praising it in a January 1940 review as "sympathetically and skillfully made, with many touching moments and an excellent cast". Hardwicke's performance as Arnold was called "one of the best he has ever given," as the veteran actor convincingly tempered the headmaster's strict demeanor with "the underlying sympathy, tolerance, quiet humour and steadfast courage" for which Arnold was acclaimed.[1] Jimmy Lydon as the title character was called "believable and moving in the early portions, but too young for the final moments".[1]

The June 27, 1940, debut of the film version at New York City's Radio City Music Hall was chronicled in a photo spread by The New York Times, "showing some of the pastimes, curricular and otherwise", as the fight scene between Tom Brown and Flashman was captioned.[2]


DVD version[edit]

The 1940 film version was released on DVD in 2004, with a cover illustration of Dr. Arnold with Tom Brown and Flashman, as the famed educator admonishes the two after their fight.


The film recorded a loss of $110,000.[3]


  1. ^ a b c "Tom Brown's School Days; Adventures at Rugby". Variety. January 1, 1940. Retrieved December 6, 2008.
  2. ^ "Reflections of passing events in the screen world" (PDF). The New York Times. June 23, 1940. Retrieved 2009-01-23.
  3. ^ Richard B. Jewell, RKO Radio Pictures: A Titan Is Born, University of California Press, 2012 p 203

External links[edit]