AFI Catalog of Feature Films
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Goodbye, Mr. Chips
Director: Sam Wood (Dir)
Release Date:   28 Jul 1939
Premiere Information:   New York opening: week of 15 May 1939
Production Date:   at Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer British Studios, Ltd.
Duration (in mins):   110 or 114
Duration (in feet):   10,227
Duration (in reels):   12
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Cast:   Robert Donat (Mr. [Charles Chipping] Chips)  
    Greer Garson (Katherine [Ellis])  
    Terry Kilburn (John Colley/Peter Colley I/ Peter Colley II/ Peter Colley III)  
    John Mills (Peter Colley as a young man)  
    Paul Von Hernried ([Max] Staefel)  
    Judith Furse (Flora)  
    Lyn Harding (Wetherby)  
    Milton Rosmer (Chatteris)  
    Frederick Leister (Marsham)  
    Louise Hampton (Mrs. Wickett)  
    Austin Trevor (Ralston)  
    David Tree (Jackson)  
    Edmond Breon (Colonel Morgan)  
    Jill Furse (Helen Colley)  
    Scott Sunderland (Sir John Colley)  
    Martita Hunt (English woman at Austrian inn)  

Summary: In 1870, Mr. Charles Chipping, an unsophisticated, dour young man, embarks on a teaching career at Brookfield, an English boys school steeped in tradition. Chipping is a kindhearted man who takes pity on a homesick young boy he meets on the train to Brookfield. His initial lack of authority in the classroom, however, results in a chaotic outburst from the boys and a severe reprimand from his headmaster. Determined to stay at Brookfield, Chipping soon becomes a strict disciplinarian, disdained by the boys and looked upon condescendingly by his fellow instructors. As the years pass, Chipping enters middle age with a sad longing to be liked by the boys for whom he has such affection, but he is unable to put aside his stern facade. His lack of rapport with his students has also prevented him from becoming a headmaster, a position for which Chipping has always yearned. One summer, Max Staefel, a German master who is Chipping's only friend, suggests that they take a walking tour of Austria together. During a dense fog, Chipping encounters Katherine Ellis, a modern young Englishwoman who is enchanted by his kindness and old-fashioned manners. Although Chipping falls in love with Kathy, he thinks that their different personalities and ages would make marriage impossible, and she leaves the inn at which they are staying uncertain of his true feelings. When they meet again in Vienna, their love deepens, and just as Kathy is leaving to return to England with her friend Flora, Chipping proposes. At the beginning of the new term at Brookfield, the students and staff are amused by the thought of Chipping's marriage and are shocked to see how attractive and charming Kathy is. With her gentle guidance, "Chips," as she calls him, allows his kind nature to emerge and thereby gains the respect and affection of students and faculty. Although Kathy dies in childbirth, Chips's enduring love for her helps him to maintain his blossomed personality and advance his career. Years later, when an elderly Chips is given notice by a new headmaster who wants to "modernize" the school, the boys, along with their parents, many of whom as students had also grown to love Chips, demand that the headmaster ask Chips to stay on. Several years later, when Chips does retire, he maintains a cottage near the school and continues his closeness with the boys, entertaining them after school and listening to their troubles. When World War I begins and many of the masters enlist in the army, Chips is asked to return to the school and serve as its headmaster, the position for which he and Kathy had wished years before. After the war, Chips returns to retirement, but still stays in close contact with the boys. He dies dreaming of all his past students not long after young Peter Colley III, the youngest of a family of boys whom Chips had taught through the years, waves to him and says "Goodbye, Mr. Chips." 

Production Company: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Corp. (Loew's, Inc.)
Production Text: A Sam Wood Production
Distribution Company: Loew's Inc.  
Director: Sam Wood (Dir)
Producer: Victor Saville (Prod)
Writer: R. C. Sherriff (Scr)
  Claudine West (Scr)
  Eric Maschwitz (Scr)
Photography: F. A. Young (Photog)
Art Direction: Alfred Junge (Art dir)
Film Editor: Charles Frend (Film ed)
Music: Louis Levy (Mus dir)
  Richard Addinsell (Spec mus by)
Sound: A. W. Watkins (Rec)
  C. C. Stevens (Rec)
Production Misc: Harold Boxall (Prod mgr)
  Sidney Franklin (Prod preparation)
Country: Great Britain and United States
Language: English

Source Text: Based on the novel Goodbye, Mr. Chips! by James Hilton (London, 1934).
Authors: James Hilton

Copyright Claimant Copyright Date Copyright Number Passed By NBR:
Loew's Inc. 19/6/1939 dd/mm/yyyy LP8935 Yes

PCA NO: 5086
Physical Properties: b&w:
  Sd: Western Electric Sound System

 
Genre: Drama
 
Subjects (Major): Boarding schools
  Boys schools
  English
  Schoolteachers
  Transformation
 
Subjects (Minor): Austria
  Childbirth
  Germans
  Great Britain--History--Social life and customs
  Headmasters
  Housekeepers
  Loyalty
  Marriage
  Retirement
  Transformation
  Vienna (Austria)
  Widowers
  Wives
  World War I

Note: The screen credits contain the following inscriptions: "To Sidney Franklin...For his contribution in the preparation of the production...Grateful acknowledgement," and "We wish to acknowledge here our gratitude to the late Irving Thalberg, whose inspiration illuminates the picture of Goodbye, Mr. Chips . [Signed] James Hilton, Victor Saville, Sam Wood, Sidney A. Franklin, R. C. Sherriff, Claudine West and Eric Maschwitz." James Hilton's novel was serialized in British Weekly in Dec 1933. According to studio publicity information, Thalberg purchased Goodbye, Mr. Chips from galley proofs and originally assigned Sidney Franklin to direct. Franklin, however, subsequently became an M-G-M producer and was replaced as director by Sam Wood. HR news items in Dec 1936 and Jan 1938 announced that Charles Laughton would be playing the title role. The 1936 news item also listed Erich Pommer as the producer and director of the film. The picture marked the screen debut of English stage actress Greer Garson who, according to modern sources was personally signed for the picture by M-G-M studio head Louis B. Mayer after Mayer saw her in a London stage play. According to a Photo study guide to the picture, some filming took place at Repton School, an English public school founded in 1557, where many students and faculty members participated in the production. Robert Donat won an Academy Award for his performance, and the picture was nominated for an Academy Award as Best Picture. Director Sam Wood was nominated for in addition to actress Greer Garson, who made her motion picture debut in the film. Screenwriters Eris Maschwitz, R. C. Sherriff and Claudine West were nominated for their screenplay, as was Charles Frend for Film Editing and A. W. Watkins for Sound Recording. The picture also appeared on FD 's and the National Board of Review's ten best lists for 1939, and received the "best picture" distinction in the HR Preview Poll of May 1939.
       A 1969 U.S./Great Britain remake of Goodbye, Mr. Chips , produced by APJAC Productions and released by M-G-M, was directed by Herbert Ross and starred Peter O'Toole and Petula Clark (see AFI Catalog of Feature Films, 1961-70 ; F6.1910). A Masterpiece Theatre/B.B.C. teleplay of the story, starring Roy Marsden, aired on the PBS network on 4 Jan 1987. A Lux Radio Theatre production of Goodbye, Mr. Chips , featuring Laurence Olivier as Mr. Chips, was broadcast on 20 Nov 1939. 

Bibliographic Sources:   Date   Page
Daily Variety   15 May 39   p. 3.
Film Daily   16 May 39   p. 6.
Hollywood Reporter   19 Dec 36   p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter   10 Jan 38   p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter   16 May 39   p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter   12 Jun 39   p. 6.
Motion Picture Daily   16 May 39   p. 1, 8
Motion Picture Herald   20 May 39   pp. 42-43.
New York Times   1 Jan 1939.   
New York Times   16 May 39   p. 27.
Variety   17 May 39   p. 12.

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The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.
 
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