Thursday, 27 September 2012
Goodbye Mr. Chips (1939) - ★★★★½
Writers: R.C. Sherriff, Claudine West, Eric Maschwitz (screenplay, James Hilton (Author of the book)
Stars: Robert Donat, Greer Garson, Paul Henreid, Terry Kilburn
Goodbye Mr. Chips is a personal favorite of mine that has always affected me deeply. I think it's the purely magnificent performance by Robert Donat as Mr. Chipping. Of all the fictional characters in cinematic history, he would have to be up there with my absolute favorites. This is a movie that isn't perfect by any means, but has the beautiful ability to tug at your heart strings.
The story follows a teacher named Mr. Chips, who at the very beginning of the film just transports to a new school. It's a period drama, where time goes by and we see Chips grow older. We see the world through his eyes in events such as the WWI and emotions such as love. Our hearts break with his when former students and friends die, our hearts jump for joy when he finally finds love in Kathy (Greer Garson). Above all, we get to know and love this character through time in a masterful way.
Robert Donat was absolutely fantastic. He has the uncanny ability to show how the character has grown, not only through his dialogue, but through his facial expressions. It's wonderful when he finally meets Kathy, for the chemistry between Donat and Garson is really special. One of the most heart-wrenching scenes I've ever seen in a film comes between the two, where Donat gives one of the greatest performances in movie history.
It's one of those movies where you either love it, or you leave it. I truly loved this film for everything it achieved. Not since Captains Courageous have I encountered a film that made me as happy and as sad as this film does. Goodbye Mr. Chips will forever be one of my favorite movies of all time. The line "Goodbye Mr. Chips, Goodbye..." spoken by Terry Kilburn gave me chills; I'll never forget that scene.