Goodbye, Mr. Chips (1969)
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Watched years later, when the trendy world of the 60's and 70's has turned in upon itself, this version of GOODBYE, MR.CHIPS is a total delight. First of all, as "Chipping", Peter O'Toole gives one of his greatest performances. To watch him turn from the hated, cold, emotionless Latin teacher at a boy's boarding school, to a man who finally can see the colors in the world (after falling for and marrying musical star Catherine Briskit) is to see a genius at work. (If you can, watch LAWRENCE OF ARABIA, THE LION IN WINTER, MY FAVORITE YEAR and CHIPS back to back over a number of days or weeks. Then you will see what a truly great actor O'Toole is, and how magnificent he is in CHIPS.)
Catherine, as played by the glowing Petula Clark, at the height of her popularity, is ever man's dream; beautiful, loving, understanding, with a great voice to boot. Most of the songs are beautiful and fit the story perfectly, while the direction by the late Herbert Ross brings the proceedings wonderfully to life.
Okay, this film may be a bit too romantic for some people, but for those who are looking for a beautifully acted, sung, and directed love story, look no further. (If you can get your hands of the laser disc wide screen version, better yet. I am anxiously awaiting CHIPS' debut on DVD.)
Arthur Chipping is a Latin teacher at Brookfield, a boys' school in suburban England where he himself was educated. Introverted and socially inept, he is dedicated to his students but unable to inspire them. Prior to summer holiday, a former student takes him to a London music hall to see an entertainment starring Katharine Bridges, the young lady he hopes to wed. The post-performance meeting is awkward for all, and Chips - as he is commonly known - sets off to explore some of Italy's ancient ruins. Unexpectedly, he runs into Katharine, who has booked a Mediterranean cruise to allow her time to mourn a failed love affair and ponder the direction of her career. In the time they spend together, she discovers a kind and gentle man beneath the befuddled exterior, and upon returning to London pursues him in earnest. When the fall term begins, Chips returns to Brookfield with his young bride, and the two settle into a life of quiet domesticity. Complications arise when aspects of Katharine's past surface, and again when World War II intrudes in their lives, but Chips is bolstered by his wife's support, and his new-found confidence makes him a favorite among the students.
Aside from a couple of musical interludes - the delightful music hall production number "London is London" and Katharine's declaration of love, "You and I" - most of Bricusse's songs, some of them performed in voice-over as the characters explore their emotions, are easily forgettable and in no way enhance the film. Eliminate the score entirely, and "Goodbye, Mr. Chips" works quite well as a drama. Terrence Rattigan's script retains elements of the original while expanding upon it and updating it by a couple of decades. He has crafted several scenes between Chips and Katharine that beautifully delineate their devotion to each other, and infused a few with comic relief courtesy of Katharine's friend and cohort, over-the-top actress Ursula Mossbank (delightfully played by Sian Phillips, O'Toole's real-life wife at the time). He also captures life at a British public school - the equivalent of a private academy here in the States - with unerring perfection.
Ross does well as a first-time director, liberally sprinkling the film with breathtakingly photographed moments - the opening credits sequence, during which the school anthem echoes in the vast stone hallways of the school, perfectly sets the tone for the film. Costumes and sets are true to the period. The students, portrayed by non-professionals who were enrolled at the school used as Brookfield, handle their various small supporting roles well.
Highest praise is reserved for Peter O'Toole and Petula Clark in the lead roles. O'Toole was long-established as a first-class dramatic actor, so his Academy Award-nominated performance here comes as no surprise. Clark, a veteran of some two dozen B-movies in the UK and the previous year's "Finian's Rainbow," is absolutely luminous as the music hall soubrette who forsakes a theatrical career in favor of life as a schoolmaster's wife. Her golden voice enriches her songs and almost allows us to overlook how insipid most of them are, and she more than matches O'Toole in their dramatic scenes together. The chemistry between the two is palpable and leaves us with no doubt that this is a couple very much in love.
This version of "Goodbye, Mr. Chips" is no classic like its predecessor, but hardly the disaster many critics described when it was released. Ignore the score, concentrate on the performances, and revel in the atmosphere Ross has put on the screen. It's a pleasant way to spend a rainy afternoon with someone you love.
Peter O'Toole as Mr. Chips - yes, he did sing - quite a deliverance. He may not be a veteran at musical like Rex Harrison, but he inhabited the role marvelously. The scene of him running across the lawn in his cape a-flying reminds me of the PBS series, "To Serve Them All My Days" - a lovable schoolmaster and loving man, he is, 'Mr. Chipey.' Clark and O'Toole somehow gave us just the right mix of spunk and circumstance. The songs and lyrics by Leslie Bricusse are catchy as usual. The tunes of "You and I" and "Walk Through the World (with Me)" stayed with me the most all these years. And there's "What a Lot of Flowers," "And the Sky Smiled," "Fill the World with Love" - not syrupy at all. Sometimes I think if the world is immersed in Bricusse's songs and words, we would overcome all strife on earth and 'lovely' will be all our days! Yes, "Talk to the Animals," too. ("Doctor Doolittle" 1967)
Musicals are a blessing to the world of moviegoers, they are somehow larger than life. Like the music and lyrics by the Sherman Brothers (Richard M. and Robert B.) who gave us "Chitty Chitty Bang Bang" (1968) and "Mary Poppins" (1964) - who wouldn't feel absolutely delighted simply uttering "supercalifragilisticexpialidocious"? I was tickled by even just one featured song & dance number in the Spanish film "Km.0 - Kilometer Zero" (2000). My all time favorite is French filmmaker Jacques Demy's "Young Girls of Rochefort" (1967) with colorful cast of Catherine Deneuve and (late sister) Francoise Dorléac, Jacques Perrin, Michel Piccoli, Danielle Darrieux, Gene Kelly and George Chakiris singing, dancing to Michel Legrand's music. Long live musicals.
Chips and Kathy have a blissful 20 years together until tragedy strikes in the form of World War II.
Often dismissed as inferior to the classic 1939 version with Robert Donat, this musical from 1969 with Peter O'Toole as Chips and Petula Clarke as Kathy, will always be THE version for me. I first saw it at the cinema on original release and although at the age of 8 I was vaguely aware that it was a film for adults, and some of it was above my ability to comprehend, I fell in love with it. I haven't fallen out of love since. As a matter of fact, when I saw the Donat version on TV shortly after seeing this, it struck me as a pale shadow of the O'Toole movie. I've learnt to respect and admire the original film, but it has never been able to engage my emotions as the O'Toole version does.
Peter O'Toole is brilliant as Chips, his awkwardness, embarrassment and growing self confidence and his all consuming love for Kathy and his care for the boys he teaches is enchantingly portrayed. The scene in which he reacts to the tragedy that World War II brings is incredibly powerful and moving. He really does look like a man whose whole life has crumbled around him.
True, it does make a number of radical changes to the original novel, but this doesn't matter - it works on it's own merits. Never mind the trendy critics of the day, treat yourself to a wonderful two and a half hours of pure magic.
I don't believe that most people nowadays would even understand a movie like this; and, the youth of today would most likely laugh at it as they're taught few manners and believe that they can go around acting as they please in any company they may find themselves in, as, there are never any consequences.
Mr. Chips earned every bit of respect he was shown; but, in order to be respected, one must be around those who were taught respect.
This is a really great movie about a really great man who was devoted to his profession.
Two things were radically different from this and the Donat version. First the book by James Hilton and the Donat version cover a period from before the Boer War until after World War I. This Goodbye Mr. Chips starts in The Roaring Twenties and ends post World War II a totally different period than the one Hilton was writing about. James Hilton was 14 years gone when this film came out, I wonder what he would have thought of the change in time period.
Secondly the marriage of Chips is a small part of the original story because the character of the wife dies young and in childbirth. Chips is a saddened widower for most the time the story covers which is a very radical change that Terrence Rattigan made to the original story.
Peter O'Toole and Petula Clark have a great deal more time together than Robert Donat and Greer Garson did in the original film. I guess the reason for that is to give Petula Clark a lot of songs. As she's a singer and O'Toole does his songs in the manner originated by Rex Harrison in My Fair Lady, this is one area where she blows him off the screen. The best numbers in the score by Leslie Bricusse are the production numbers London Is London and later on the one that Petula does with the Brookfield boys, School Days.
Michael Redgrave has a nice turn as the kind, but somewhat traditional schoolmaster. And although she only has a few scenes, Sian Phillips is brilliant as the Bohemian type actress who is a friend of Petula Clark's and a closer friend to Lord George Baker who is trying to get O'Toole sacked from Brookfield. Phillips's character might well have been based on Gertrude Lawrence.
When James Hilton wrote his best known stories Hollywood was fortunate to have a pair of actors who were born to play Hilton heroes, Robert Donat and Ronald Colman. They both exemplify the way the British see themselves, purveyors of civilization, sportsmanship, and fair play to the world. Despite the uphill battle to come close to what Donat gave us with his Mr. Chips, O'Toole did get a nomination for Best Actor, but lost to John Wayne for True Grit. Goodbye Mr. Chips also got a nomination for Best Musical Scoring for Leslie Bricusse and John Williams.
We may yet see another big screen adaption of Goodbye Mr. Chips and maybe this one will be set in modern times if such a film could be made. Sounds like a perfect part for Anthony Hopkins.
And shouldn't that be what movies are all about?
The music is beautiful, the film was shot wonderfully. The acting is top notch. And the story is delicate and timeless.
One of my favorite movies of all-time.
Goodbye Mr. Chips is an MGM musical remake of the 1939 movie also from MGM. During this time musicals were out and the Hollywood studio system was in total shambles. When it premiered in New York Los Angeles and London the musical numbers were left intact but when it came to the local main street theaters world wide it was sans songs therefore making the movie shorter and gaped to the max.
Thanks to MGM/UA Home Video under Ted Turner in the late 1980's early 1990's when VHS and Laser Disc were the main home video formats of choice the musical numbers were re-instituted and the gaps closed. Laserdisc though was the only format chosen to view Goodbye Mr. Chips in the Widescreen Letterbox Format.
For awhile now the Original Motion Picture Soundtrack was only available on the original out of print Vinyl and Cassette Tape and can still be found today on Ebay.
Thanks to the wonderful people at Film Score Monthly.com in 2006 the soundtrack has been digitally remastered and remixed into a 3 CD set featuring the completely reconstructed score, the original 1969 general release album score, and narrated sequences source music and interviews a plenty. You also get 1 unused song which is a real lost gem, "Tomorrow with Me" by Petula Clark which would have been chosen in place of "You and I" before hand.
This movie is both a classic musical and a real tribute to educators everywhere. I most certainly would buy this movie if Warner Bros. MGM and Sony would put their money where there mouth is and get this film restored from all master film sources and put it on both DVD and Blu Ray with all the bells and whistles put back into place with all the extras you can find and stuff into a release.
O'Toole's performance is good, though in my book not in the same league as "Lawrence of Arabia," "A Lion in Winter," "The Stuntman," or even "My Favorite Year." But there is absolutely no chemistry between Petula Clark and him and many scenes are played as if they are merely blocking them. Furthermore, what in God's name possessed anyone to make a musical of this? (Fair Disclosure: I've never seen the 1939 original with Greer Garson but it's *got* to be better.) The music is insipid but the lyrics are excruciating...whoever wrote them should spend time in the Lyubianka.
I was stunned to read some of the other reviews on this site. Did we all watch the same film?
First, the G rating is way off. It should have been R for nudity and language. Why they ever thought that swearing and gratuitous nudity of young boys was worthy of inclusion in this wonderful story entirely escapes us. It is strange that the inclusion of nude children was acceptable in films of that time. It certainly would land filmmakers in prison today. This is child porn. Oddly, another film of that era which included the full frontal nudity of a young teenage girl also got a G rating. We won't mention the name of that film for we do not desire to promote child porn. Petula Clarke was a very strange choice of an "actress" to play Katherine. Audrey Hepburn would have been a natural in the role, but NOT in the rewritten part that was butchered in this dismal rewrite. Why they ever rewrote the part of Katherine as a floozy is also immensely puzzling. In the James Hilton book and in the 1939 film which was very true to the book, Katherine was EXACTLY the match for Chips, a perfect pairing. She was classy and elegant. She NEVER embarrassed Mr. Chips. He would NEVER be attracted to such a cockney, low class woman of loose morals as he was shown to do in this terribly rewritten piece of garbage. If you like good, clean movies, by all means, watch the original film from 30 years earlier. The 1969 movie really could have been great had the writers stuck to the book's story. With a script true to the book, a classy actress like Audrey Hepburn as Katherine, the totally unnecessary nudity and the horrible language removed, this film could have been a worthy remake that we could lovingly embrace as we do the 1939 film. We have come to the conclusion that we shall never watch a remake again. They are nearly always worse than the original. We do not wish to give the impression that we don't like Petula Clarke. We do like her. "Downtown" or "Don't Sleep in the Subway Darlin", THAT is vintage Pet Clarke. She is just not a convincing Katherine. Imagine Ethel Merman or Carol Channing as Maria instead of Julie Andrews in the great film, "The Sound of Music". It doesn't work, does it? Pet Clarke does not work as Katherine in "Good Bye Mr. Chips" either. This film is useful only as a study on Peter O' Toole. He was great, this film otherwise rates as a dismal stinker.
Peter O'Toole is excellent, as usual. Any man who can portray T.E. Lawrence and Mr. Chipping with equal facility is an astonishing actor. Petula Clark is adequate when she is not singing.
I am now viewing the film on TCM having recorded it on DVR which allows me to gleefully advance through the unbearable "musical" numbers. It should never be viewed any other way.