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Goodbye, Mr. Chips Photos

Movie Info

Young schoolteacher Charles Edward Chipping (Robert Donat) imposes strict discipline on his young charges at a Victorian-era English public school, becoming a fearsome presence on the campus grounds. But the love of spirited young suffragette Katherine Ellis (Greer Garson) brings the Latin instructor out of his shell and makes him a beloved campus institution into the 20th century and through the shattering violence of World War I. The film is based on the best-selling novel by James Hilton.

Cast & Crew

Terry Kilburn
John Colley, Peter Colley I, Peter Colley II, Peter Colley III
John Mills
Peter Colley
Louise Hampton
Mrs. Wickett
Sam Wood
Director
R.C. Sherriff
Screenwriter
Claudine West
Screenwriter
Eric Maschwitz
Screenwriter
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Critic Reviews for Goodbye, Mr. Chips

All Critics (17) | Top Critics (1) | Fresh (14) | Rotten (3)

Audience Reviews for Goodbye, Mr. Chips

  • Sep 11, 2013
    The original Chips continues to be a film classic. The film is ahead of its time in terms of realizing that war has victims on all sides even those who are on the enemy side. A weeper that you can feel good about weeping to.
    John B Super Reviewer
  • Jun 12, 2013
    "Goodbye, Mr. Chips; who could hang a name on you when you change with every new day? Still, I'm gonna miss you!" Oh no, wait, this isn't the musical adaptation of the James Hilton classic, and besides, if it was, I doubt that it would be featuring The Rolling Stones, because "Ruby Tuesday" is by no means an especially well-sung song, and plus, in 1969, The Stones were too up-and-coming to already have movie deals. Granted, Mick Jagger did "Performance" in '68, but the point is that Herbert Ross' "Goodbye, Mr. Chips" is a remake, and it's still been around about as long as The Rolling Stones, so you know that this film is old. Man, this film is so old that it still featured Jackie as the Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer logo lion (Learn your film history, kids), and yet, many of the annoyingly nostalgic critics prefer the younger film than this one. Well, to be fair, people just might not remember this film, which is so forgotten that it's emphatic about its starring Robert Donat, whose only had "The 39 Steps", "The Private Life of Henry VIII"... and 1934's "The Count of Monte Cristo"... within a three-year span... starting at his second year in the business, going for him. Hey, I guess Donat was a pretty big star, which is good, because as this film will tell you, he was pretty talented, though not so much so that he could make you forget the final product's flaws. It's not exactly pip-pip cheerioing and whatnot, but this film is still mighty British, complete with a dry approach to things that is often very charmingly witty, but holds a tendency to leave the atmosphere to get a bit limp, with kick limitations that cause pacing to suffer and leave some disengaging blandness to ensue. Sure, the film is generally entertaining, or at least not as dry as it could have been, but there are still those fair deal of slow spells that throw you off and give you time to think about how the film is, well, kind of aimless. Driven by meandering filler that quickly gets to be repetitious, the film's storytelling wanders about with limited direction that isn't so thin that you don't get the occasional sense of progression, but is ultimately thin enough to make this film's runtime more palpable than it should be. The film is by no means terribly long, at least when you compare it to its 1969 musical counterpart, so it's not like storytelling drags its feet for ages, but make no mistake, the fact of the matter is that plotting's structure is something of a mess that meanders along repetitiously and, well, is to be expected, because, really, where does this story have to go? Okay, the film's story is hardly needled-thin, but it is thin, with a limited sense of meaty consequence and direction that may be intentional, but is still kind of problematic, pumping the final product with natural shortcomings that it doesn't simply fail to dilute, but makes all the more glaring with the aforementioned issues in atmospheric and structural pacing. There's really not much to this film, and sure, what it does right is done very well, but quite frankly, that isn't really enough for you to not notice the issues so much, to where the final product ends up falling as underwhelming, if not kind of forgettable. That being said, when the film is occupying your time, rather than struggling to occupy your memory, it keeps you going, having plenty of issues when it comes to storytelling and conceptual intrigue, but just enough strength to entertain adequately. Needless to say, this film is hardly as driven by its musical aspects as its 1969 counterpart, and makes sure to remind you by underusing Richard Addinsell's score, which, upon actually being used, is typically not fleshed out to the fullest, and is all too often tainted by a degree of conventionalism that further disengages, but ultimately does only so much damage to Addinsell's efforts, which are still spirited enough and recurring enough to play something of a hefty part in breathing some liveliness into this generally dry project. The film's score is decent and reasonably complimentary to color, but really, outside of the musical aspects, as well as the occasional handsome spot in Freddie Young's cinematography (Sorry, Freddie Young fans, but this is no David Lean epic), there's really not too much artistic punch-up to this film, thus storytelling single-handedly takes on the burden of keeping you going with the film, something that storytelling has only so much power to charge. As I said earlier, this film's storytelling aspects are flawed, with dry spells, aimless structuring and even a story concept that is lacking in meat, and that shakes the final product's grip on you, but doesn't quite leave you to completely slip out, because as underwhelming as this film's story is in a lot of way, it is very charming, with an endearing heart and certain intriguing spots in subject matter that open some opportunities for those translating James Hilton's story. Needless to say, screenwriters R. C. Sherriff's, Claudine West's and Eric Maschwitz's interpretation of Hilton's story gets to be questionable, structuring plotting in an aimless fashion that dilutes kick that was never to be too rich, but all but compensating for its shortcomings with a sharp wit that adds to charm and a fair degree of entertainment value. When I said that the film hits particularly bland spells, I really did mean it, though I'd be lying if I said that the film ever slips into downright dullness, thanks to an adequate degree of colorful wit within Sherriff's, West's and Maschwitz's screenplay, which, at the very least, delivers on engaging characterization that is made all the more engaging by the portrayals of the characters. Okay, quite honestly, several of the unevenly used younger performers hardly help their characters' obnoxiousness with improvable performances, but when it comes to the more seasoned talents who primarily drive the film, they deliver on plenty of charisma, with leading man Robert Donat really standing out, not just with charisma that is particularly potent, but a human subtlety to layers that leaves Donat to firmly bond with his titular role, whose aging throughout the film is sold by a sense of gradually developing wisdom that Donat sells effortlessly. Whether he's charming by his own right or sharing sharp chemistry with his peers, Donat carries this film, though isn't the only one breathing color into the final product, for although this project was never to be too much, what it ultimately is is endearing, witty and generally entertaining, even though it's not especially memorable. When it is finally time to say goodbye, you leave behind a film with slow spells that emphasize storytelling aimlessness, which emphasizes natural shortcomings within this thin story concept, which ultimately renders the final product kind of forgettable underwhelming, but not so much so that it doesn't keep you going during its course, as there is enough decency within Richard Addinsell's score, charming heart within James Hilton's story, wit within R. C. Sherriff's, Claudine West's and Eric Maschwitz's script, and charisma within the performances - especially that of thoroughly convincing leading man Robert Donat - for Sam Woods' "Goodbye, Mr. Chips" to stand as a decent, if somewhat messy charmer of a study on the life, times and lessons learned by an educator. 2.5/5 - Fair
    Cameron J Super Reviewer
  • Nov 28, 2011
    Good old Mr. Chips has been teaching at the Brookfield public school for several hundred years, or so the boys say. In "Goodbye, Mr. Chips", we're taken on a journey back through those several hundred years. Actually, Mr. Chips was the latin teacher from 1870 to 1918, with several extra years tacked on for good measure. The film begins in 1933, with the elderly Chippings reminscing about his first day at Brookfield. From there, we go through the next several decades, learning of Chips' life, love, and marriage to Katherine (Greer Garson). Much like for Chips himself, the film shows years as they begin to fly by in a blur, as new boys replace old boys, and new faces look the same as their fathers and grandfathers before them, in particular, little Colley, as played by Terry Kilburn (John Colley, Peter Colley, Peter Colley II, Peter Colley III). Yes, apparently Mr. Chips taught four generations of Colleys. Goodbye, Mr. Chips wants to say something profound about the past, about the futility of war and the precious briefness of life, and sometimes succeeds in doing so quite admirably. But it's Robert Donat's through-the-years portrayal of Mr. Chips that truly makes the film stand out (in fact, Donat won the oscar that year, beating out such other noteables as Gone With The Wind's Clark Gable and Mr. Smith Goes to Washington's Jimmy Stewart). Mr. Chips might have been a rather one-dimensional character without the warmth Donat brought to his performance. While the plot itself is fairly predictable, and certain stretches of time are given short change compared to others, the film still manages to the heart after all these years.
    Devon B Super Reviewer
  • Jul 19, 2010
    School shapes and defines both student and teacher, and we get a nice example of this in the 1939 version of Goodbye Mr. Chips. This classic tale of the mild-mannered schoolteacher learning to adapt in his profession has that certain timeless quality. This film version hones much more closely to the story from which it was adapted, and this includes the curious cultural themes of the time. The social structures of later Victorian England are interesting, and provide a nice backdrop for this story. The days of all-boy schools in England aren't completely behind us, but playing pranks is familiar to any school landscape. Harry Potter fans will recognize the environment instantly in this film, and there are some interesting similarities in narrative structure. (The themes about new students, a special train, etc.) Robert Donat as Professor Chipping, gives an impressive, multi-decade performance. His character evolves from a relatively ineffectual teacher to one that is widely loved and respected, and Donat makes it look easy. The film style is typical of the 1930's: It's a little overacted and talky, but still intelligent. Greer Garson makes a charming companion to the professor, and although her time with him is short, she changes him for the better. They have some genuinely likeable dialogue that seems very realistic because it's just two people that complement each other. Their first meeting scene is nicely balanced and evolves because of the 'lost' situation they are in. It's interesting in that she's the dominant partner in the romance instead of the male-dominated romances of the time. This kind of character rapport seems very modern in some ways, and the charisma of the two stars certainly helped. The story also provides little cameos of the students re-encountering their old Professor as adults. There's genuine warmth being played on the screen, and it reminded me of times I've gone back and visited teachers of my own. One of the best scenes is a short one, where zeppelins are bombing in the area, (World War I era) and Chips uses humor to keep the boys of his class calm. These kinds of small scenes are well done and help propel the story forward, building on the reputation of Chips as odd or different from the norm of Headmasters at Brookfield. The film was made in 1939, on the eve of another World War, and there's a distinct anti-war sentiment to some of the scenes that probably reflected the opinion that the War to End All wars wasn't going to be allowed to happen. Viewing these scenes now is interesting, especially Chips sentiments about a German teacher, who was his friend. The ending is the weakest part, and is over the top, but that was the style of the time. This theme about the school teacher who changes and is changed by his students has been done many times, but Mr. Chips stands out because of its honesty. It doesn't feel contrived or manipulative because it eschews the usual school crisis scenes, and instead allows us to get to know the parade of characters slowly. I'll bet you can pick out the types of students and teachers from your own university experience, even if you didn't go to a British school. The film somewhat disappeared under the shadow of Gone With The Wind, which accounts for its anonymity today. Although Peter Donat won for Best Actor, the film lost to Selznick's epic in most other categories. Modern audiences will relate more to the Peter O'Toole version (even with the 1969 penchant for actors trying to sing). However, this Chips is a nice, gentle ride back to a period long-lost in movie history, when stories didn't have to be great bombastic ones in order to explore the human condition in all its wonder and frailty.
    Mark K Super Reviewer

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