Goodbye, Mr. Chips
Dir: Sam Wood
'Goodbye, Mr. Chips' tells the story of a mild-mannered British schoolteacher who dedicates his life to his pupils, but discovers the love and support of a great woman, who changes his life in every way.
In 1936, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer established a UK production division at Denham Film Studios known as MGM-British. The idea was to capture the UK market by using mainly British actors, topped up with some American stars.
The first film, 'A Yank at Oxford' did very respectable business and the second,'The Citadel' earned four Oscar nominations.
One of these nominations was for Robert Donat as lead actor.
The third film 'Goodbye, Mr. Chips' was nominated for seven Oscars and Robert Donat deservedly won this time.
MGM British was suspended for the period of World War II, but re-established in 1948, and went on to produce 'Ivanhoe', 'The Dirty Dozen', and '2001: A Space Odyssey'.
When I see a great film like 'Goodbye, Mr. Chips', it is rather like watching a great golfer, in that it all seems so effortless.
How difficult can it be to make a great film?
You just need a good story, a good script, good actors, and a director who can put it all together.
The fact that the Tyrol mountains were rather obviously built out of chicken-wire and plaster at Denham studios, or that the make-up effects used to age Donat by 50 years are perhaps a little crude are totally irrelevant to the fun and poignancy of the whole thing.
Sadly, the screening of Sunday classics here at FGC often serves only to remind us of how bloody awful so many films are these days. Whilst technically astounding, and full of animated robotic dinosaurs that can turn into spaceships, and men who can do super things, few of the films have a tiny fraction of the pure emotional impact of a film like 'Goodbye, Mr. Chips'.
It was filmed only ten years after 'Blackmail', the first full, all-talking British film.
In only ten years, a whole new way of telling stories had been invented and developed, and what an amazing period it must have been to work in, where writing, acting and directing skills advanced enough to produce 'Goodbye, Mr. Chips' after only ten years.
In the seventy-odd years since we have made little progress.
It is impossible to watch Greer Garson as the woman who enters Chip's life without falling in love with her just as he does.
It is impossible not to root for him as he battles against a new headmaster.
And be aware that if you have a tissue on you, there are scenes where it will be impossible for you to avoid using it.