Goodbye, Mr. Chips

Goodbye, Mr. Chips
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A shy British teacher looks back nostalgically at his long career, taking note of the people touched his life.

Title:Goodbye, Mr. Chips
Release Date:July 28, 1939
Genres:Drama, Romance
Production Co.:Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer British Studios, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM)
Production Countries:United Kingdom
Director:Sam Wood, E.M. Smedley-Aston
Writers:, ,
Casts:, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
Plot Keywords:world war i, teacher, melodrama, school, boys' boarding school, headmaster, boys' school
Alternative Titles:
  • Au revoir Mr. Chips! - [FR]

Goodbye, Mr. Chips Reviews

  • Just A Super Nice Film....What Else Can You Say?
    by ccthemovieman-1 on 18 November 2005

    60 out of 67 people found the following review useful:

    Here's another one of those old-fashioned movies in which people are all nice: no villains. It's a refreshing change of pace, once in a while, at least for me.

    Sometimes it's relaxing just to just kick back with a story that just makes you feel good, doesn't upset you at any time. There are some touching scenes with some sadness in here, too, however, but the sincere story and great acting make you glad you watched it.

    Robert Donat, as Mr. Chippings, is a pleasure to watch, particularly when he plays the character in his declining years. Greer Garson gets equal if not top billing, but that's not right. Her role is not that big in this picture.

    Another nice feature you don't see much, at least in post-1960 films - all respectful kids in here, with manners. Nice adults, nice kids, nice story - probably too corny for most people of today in our cynical world. Too bad. Their loss.

  • A wonderful, sentimental film
    by FilmOtaku ( on 29 December 2004

    51 out of 53 people found the following review useful:

    Sam Wood's film "Goodbye, Mr. Chips" is the story of Mr. Chipping (Robert Donat), an elderly schoolmaster at the prestigious Brookfield school in England. At the beginning of the current year's term, "Mr. Chips" is retired, but still living on campus and still interacting with the boys at the school. Suffering a cold, he retires to his living room in front of a fireplace and begins to reminisce about his long, 63 - year career at the school. Beginning as an idealistic teacher, he gains a reputation for stodginess, though his peers and students find that to be an almost endearing quality. Years later, he goes on holiday with a fellow teacher to Austria and meets the love of his life, Katherine (Greer Garson) who is an intelligent free spirit. After a whirlwind courtship, the two marry, and Chips (as she begins to call him) brings her to England with him in time for the next term. With her influence, Chips begins to open up more to his students and peers and quickly gains a very popular following among both. Throughout the years, Chips takes care of his students, and sees several generations of boys from the same families come under his care, personified by the Colley boys (all played by Terry Kilburn). Once WWI begins, most of the older students and schoolmasters enlist, so Chips is asked to come out of retirement to do the job that he has wanted to do his entire career at Brookfield – become Headmaster, leading the next generation of students while being forced to deal with the losses of his former students from the war.

    "Goodbye, Mr. Chips" is obviously the inspiration for films like "Mr. Holland's Opus" in that it is a sentimental story of a young and insecure teacher who carries through with his career not really knowing the influence he has had on his students. "Goodbye, Mr. Chips" did not have a big emotional crescendo at the end that similar films from the last two or three decades generally did (and do) but rather it had a quieter, more dignified emotional catch. Robert Donat is spectacular in this Oscar-winning role. It is amazing that he was able to play a man that was between 10-50 years older than he really was so convincingly. Greer Garson is wonderful as always in her role as "Mrs. Chips". The film itself was charming and sentimental without being overly sappy; I certainly had tears streaming down my cheeks at the end, but didn't feel foolish about it. I would recommend this one to anyone, but I think that it will certainly get a much better response from classic film lovers due to its purity and its unabashed sentimentality. 7/10 --Shelly

  • Goodbye old values!
    by uds3 on 16 November 2001

    51 out of 55 people found the following review useful:

    In the top TEN films of all time, I want to believe that Mr Chips exists for all school-children, that his spirit still hovers around places of learning waiting to guide those who might follow his lead as to decency, strength of character, gentility of nature and spiritual purity. Alas, Mr Chips is not required in 2001!

    This film, the story of a gentle English teacher at a British Boarding school, is so timeless and emotionally involving, I find it hard to write about it without having to control my own feelings. Not a wuss by one hell of a long shot, and having last openly cried probably the last time I saw this film, I can only say that exposure to Robert Donat's performance here in the role which won him the most deserving of Academy Awards, is perhaps one of the greatest things can happen in your life. If you think I might be exaggerating, do me a favor - don't watch it! If you watch it and aren't moved, especially when his wife dies, then your life is meaningless!

    GOODBYE MR CHIPS is probably the most beautiful film of all time and is a reminder of what we are all really here for. It's not that new pair of trendy shoes, the Rolex, the yellow drop-top with twin exhaust, that sharp Armani suit, the Chanel parfum, the 50,000 shares you picked up for a song last week, your blonde-tipped rinse, Nike shoes or $100 tie.....its for what Mr Chips STOOD for in 1939...and I got news for you, he's still here with his text-book open at the next lesson!

  • Donat gives one of the best performances in history. Wonderful movie!
    by Pelrad on 29 March 1999

    51 out of 55 people found the following review useful:

    "Mr Chips" is a celebration of the teaching profession. "Chips" finishes teachers' college in England and is almost run over by the students his first day teaching. But he learns how to balance good teaching with the right amount and kind of discipline in order for his students to be guided into a good education. However, he is somewhat shy and almost always in earnest.

    "Chips" takes a vacation and meets a woman while doing some hiking. She is his perfect match and they fall in love and marry and she helps him to come out of his shell. He begins cracking jokes that have the students rolling on the desks with laughter. The couple become more than just educators; they begin to care for the children in many other ways.

    The film follows "Chips" throughout his growing old. He gives the children morale and courage during the horrors of the War. "Goodbye, Mr. Chips" shows the beauty and rewards of the teaching profession, though it can be very difficult at times. Robert Donat gives one of the greatest acting performances in history. Brilliant! (10 out of 10)

  • memorable story, human, engaging
    by whitecargo on 18 January 2001

    42 out of 44 people found the following review useful:

    This film demonstrates that if a cinematic work obeys the rules of good, simple lucid storytelling, it can hold up for a very long time indeed.

    Here is my synopsis of this wonderful film--certainly an instance where a great book (by James Hilton, who also did "A High Wind in Jamaica" and "Lost Horizon", two novels which also benefited by excellent screenplays) translates well to the big screen. The character of Chipping is well worth exploration--one of cinema's most memorable figures. In this synopsis I want to mainly touch on the personality of Chipping--and why his story makes such an impression on the viewer. Its a case of a character being well-drawn enough to strike a spark of recognition in us--we all know someone like Chipping.

    First of all, Chipping is a person who doesnt think too much of himself. Outwardly, he is completely unremarkable. As a young man he has no prospects. He is wayward and drifting, and all on his own. He has no family to speak of. He seems to come from nowhere and also seems to be going nowhere. He is not a "mover or a shaker". He is a meek little mouse of a man that registers on no one. He is quiet and shy. He is on the reserved, traditional side, conservative in speech, dress, deportment, and character. He is also bookish and myopic--neither charismatic in looks nor athletic in limb (at odds in an age filled with charismatic, athletic specimens).

    "Chips" hardly is a type to "stand out in a crowd" and he knows it. This makes him not a "joiner". He has few associations, and his friendships are not very deep. Chips "keeps himself to himself". He loves frequently, for example, but the objects of his affection are never aware of it. He is one of those loner types, who feel the urge to try to fit in but find that they are not really suited to fit in anywhere. He is one of those people who have worlds inside of them that no one ever sees.

    Whatever noble qualities he has are all hidden and on the inside of the man, rather than on the outside. Chips is the epitome of the socially awkward, introspective, backward individual. When the story begins, we may surmise that, even though a young man in his early twenties, he has proably never yet been with a woman. Where would he have had the chance?

    In any case, Chips is taken on as an instructor at an English boarding school in the middle 19th century. The heyday of the English boarding school. This, the start of "his position" in life, is certainly one important aspect of his life and of this story.

    But the real "hook" of the narrative, the most important personal event in his existence, begins as an incident that happens shortly after he is settled into his teaching career. One holiday he accepts an invitation to go cycling in the Alps with a colleague. On a solitary hike into the mountains, he encounters a fellow English tourist--a woman--on her own.

    She is an extraordinary woman--an outgoing, experienced, cosmopolitan, charismatic, beautiful, graceful, clever, engaging --a truly marvellous woman. But she is a woman that is usually "already taken". A woman that, at her age, is usually found on the arm of a captain of industry, or an actor, or a politician. A woman of substance and import. A woman that can get any man she would want.

    Why is she single? Coincidentally, just as Chips is an oddity in his gender, she is an oddity to hers. She isnt empty-headed, for one thing, although she is very beautiful. She has standards. Although she has been courted incessantly by men from a very early age she is holding out until she meets a man that has inside him, the values and ideals that she prizes. And she happens to be wise enough and sharp-eyed enough and insightful enough to spy the admirable interior qualities of Chips. She sees that he is loyal and devoted and true of heart.

    So, from this chance meeting, a romance develops. Chips, of course, is truly astonished. But it becomes a fact. The two actually do marry. The woman does not want a politician, an actor, or a captain of industry--she wants him. She is the only other living being who comes close enough to see him at all--really see him. This is the very happiest time Chips ever has in his whole existence. He comes alive. He is out of his shell. From that point on, he does a lot of things that he would never have dreamed of doing previously. Its because he is no longer alone.

    The two have maybe two or three years of life together--until, one day, the woman takes ill from some reason or other and, unaccountably, dies at a young age. Chips has to spend the rest of his life in love with something that is no longer real. His memories are real, to him, but he never again lives in the way that he did when he enjoyed her company.

    He will remain at the school for a good many years--in fact, he will live his life there and die there. The remainder of the story, and the movie, is about how this meek soul actually manages to eke out a very passable life for himself, to obtain some measure of happiness despite his humble beginnings and the sadness of his early tragedy.

    Chips actually manages to have a life that despite all obstacles, exerts a positive effect on a great many other people. We see him able to live to a very great age, despite many years of loneliness, despite many hardships and trials. Over time, his inner qualities prove him to be seen by many people as a worthwhile person. Completely by accident.

    In fact, he winds up to be the most-loved member of the school's faculty. The satisfaction arising from this fact may be the only solace that Chips attains, but to him its enough. He never forgets the woman. But, the story seems to say, he seems to be able to find . . . compensation.

    "Goodbye Mr. Chips" is a movie that deals surely and confidently with the most integral and basic, human-scale events: yearnings and disappointments, dreams, the play of randomness in life, the strength of memory, and the effect of time on the soul. To the hip, or the unimaginative "modern" viewer this work will surely seem dated, mawkish, and flat; its just not got the zing, pizazz, or hype that pervades more contemorary flicks. Instead, this film is here for the long haul. The way I feel about it is, if films cant encompass the above-mentioned topics without earning a sour smirk these days from a trendy hipster, then what should our films be about?

    I know, I know. You dont have to tell me. Car chases, breasts, and explosions. See you later.

  • More cudos
    by philipmorrison on 28 March 2000

    39 out of 40 people found the following review useful:

    I wouldn't add anything to what my fellow-reviewers have said except for the fact that this is my favorite movie of all time. I watch it whenever I am depressed about the depths to which humans are capable of going (which is all too often depicted in modern movies). This movie portrays the opposite.

    Chipping starts out as a teacher who, because of an introverted personality, has trouble communicating with the students in his charge and with his superiors. Before going on the trip on which he meets his beloved, he is passed over for a promotion as head of a residence hall, despite the fact that he has seniority. He is also made fun of by his students and finds he must revert to a strict form of discipline to keep them in line; he is not a popular teacher as a result. He is at a low ebb, starting to think that he is a failure in life.

    Then, on a vacation to continental Europe, he meets the character played by Greer Garson. They have a whirlwind romance, which, in itself, is so enjoyable to watch. He is so clumsy in his advances. And she is amused by him. The actors do a great job of showing the chemistry between the characters.

    They eventually get married, which gives "Chips" the confidence he had lacked. His wife makes some suggestions which helps him find the balance of discipline and fun with the students, and he soon comes to love his students as he would his own children, and, in the process, becomes one of the most popular teachers in the school.

    One of my favorite aspects of this movie is its idyllic view of marriage. It really shows what marriage "could" be (two people coming together to become stronger as a unit than they would have been separately--another movie of this vintage which portrays the same is "Stars and Stripes, Forever", the biopic of John Phillip Sousa).

    Robert Donat's performance, as the other reviewers have noted, is of the highest caliber--ever. And, Greer Garson's role was all too short. Also, of note are Chipping's friend who invites him to Europe and urges him ahead in his romance, and, of course, the various children who come into his life.

    Macho men must be careful with this one. If it doesn't make you cry, nothing will. It may be best to take your girlfriend with you so that she can see your sensitive side.

  • Children of privilege
    by jotix100 on 9 May 2004

    34 out of 38 people found the following review useful:

    The children attending the Brookfield school are no ordinary English boys; they are the the children of the upper classes of society, who for generations have learned from institutions such as the school represented here. They are molded at places like this fictional one to be leaders of their country. Mr. Chipping is a teacher who gives his life to Brookfield, only to be bypassed when promotions are handed out. His love for the profession and his dedication to the formation of these children are his reasons for living. Most of his own life is spent at the school. Only in times of crisis is Mr. Chipps recognized. Mr. Chipps knows happiness only too briefly. He is extremely lucky when he finds Katherine. One can see the rapport in her, although we never see it explicitly on Chipping's face, maybe because a stiff upper lip that doesn't let him express his true feelings to a woman who adored him from their first encounter. Mr. Chipps lives long enough to learn about the death of his beloved students in several world conflicts. As a father figure, his life is full because the love and admiration the young boys feel for him. The film made Robert Donat a favorite of the movie going public. Mr. Donat goes from being a taciturn person into a jolly old man living on his own because Katherine dies young. The film improves tremendously when Greer Garson appears. Her luminous presence changes the tone of the movie because of her incredible charm. Paul Henreid makes a short appearance as Staefel, the fellow teacher who invites Mr. Chipps to accompany on a vacation trip to Austria. Sam Wood direction pays a close look to detail. The film is a classic and will live forever.

  • One of the Best Movies of Its Kind
    by Snow Leopard on 4 November 2004

    23 out of 23 people found the following review useful:

    Amongst those movies that aim to use straightforward human drama alone to tell a thoughtful story, "Goodbye, Mr. Chips" is one of the finest. Robert Donat's performance gives you not just one character to remember, but several, as he convincingly portrays Chipping's different personas at different stages of his life.

    Greer Garson is also excellent in her role, and Paul Henreid gets some good scenes as well. These relationships and others throughout the movie make for a believable and memorable portrayal of the title character, and also of the world in which he lived. The story is well-written, and it includes a very good variety of material, showing the characters dealing with everything from eager anticipation to grave concern, from blissful joy to great sorrow, and much in between.

    The panorama from generation to generation also works well, showing both change and stability as time passes. While only a handful of scenes contain weighty material, all of it is thoughtful, and much of it memorable. It keeps everything balanced and believable, and it's been a good while since any movie of its kind has worked so well.

  • triumph for MGM British
    by didi-5 on 22 February 2004

    22 out of 22 people found the following review useful:

    The third in the series of films MGM made in Britain was perhaps their greatest triumph, with a well-deserved Academy Award for Robert Donat, who played Mr Chips over a span of 60 years very convincingly. Always a great actor, Donat was perhaps at his best in this story covering the history of a schoolmaster from his first appearance at the school as a young idealist, through crusty middle age (and a change when he meets charming Greer Garson, in her first screen appearance, stranded up an Austrian mountain) and into his much loved dotage as a kind of human fixture and fittings of Brookfield School.

    James Hilton's book is developed here to give not only a view of the English public school system which probably never existed, but to cover issues such as the Great War with some power. The film is extremely touching in places - whether this is because of the acting or the excellent music I'm not quite sure. I do know that this version of the film is streets ahead of the misguided musical version which appeared three decades later with Peter O'Toole in the lead.

  • Excellent, Oscar worthy performance by Robert Donat
    by sapblatt on 21 December 2003

    21 out of 23 people found the following review useful:

    Director Sam Woods (`Kitty Foyle: The Natural History of a Woman,' `King's Row,' `For Whom the Bell Tolls') 1939 film `Goodbye Mr. Chips' features a top-notch performance by Robert Donat as the somewhat stuffy English prep school teacher, Mr. Chippings. Chippings early career difficulties are overcome, as is his shyness after he meets Greer Garson (`Mrs. Miniver') in the Alps while on holiday. Garson is able to show the stodgy Chips how to live life and her effect on him lasts throughout the rest of his life, although Garson is not around for long.

    The film uses recurring patterns to show the passage of time, namely the showing of the boys arriving at the school each year in the autumn. These segments often contained little historical snippets between the boys, such as `we now have telephones, do you know how to use one?' and mention of Queen Victoria's death and the remark that `it is going to be strange to have a King.' Other historical comments occurred between the teachers such as the remark on a book by a new author, H.G. Wells and how he will never last because his writing is too fantastic. Sadly, Chip's historical error occurs when he comments to the boys that they will not have to go off to World War I as the war cannot possibly last more than a few weeks. So many of the teachers and students end up losing their lives in the Great War. Some other scenes from this film have been parodied through the years in comedies, most noticeably the scenes in the great hall when the headmasters are speaking to the boys is sent up hilariously by John Cleese in `Monty Python's the Meaning of Life' and the scene where Chips canes an insolent student (it is filmed as a shadow against the wall) is later parodied when a punisher is reprimanded for whipping the shadow, not the victim (my memory is failing me here, but I think this is in 1969s `Take the Money and Run' by Woody Allen, I could be wrong as a part of me also thinks that this could be in Mel Brooks' `Blazing Saddles.')

    Donat aptly handles the complex role of Chips through the years, from about his mid-20s until his 80s. This may be one of the earlier movies that so aptly chronicles the life and times of a person through such an expanse of years, Dustin Hoffman in `Little Big Man' also performs n this manner, as does Al Pacino in `The Godfather Trilogy,' albeit over the length of three long movies. Even more outstanding and interesting about Donat and his character is that he covers so much of a common man's existence; Chips is a teacher, not a King, general, messiah or Mafia chieftain.

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