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An old classics teacher looks back over his long career, remembering pupils and colleagues, and above all the idyllic courtship and marriage that transformed his life. Written by
David Levene <D.S.Levene@durham.ac.uk>
Miss Kathy tells Chips that the ballroom in Vienna is where Metternich drew up "the treaty of the five kings" (referring to the Congress of Vienna in 1814 ending the Napoleonic Wars) "nearly 100 years ago." But the montage after Kathy's death makes clear she died before the Boer War (1899) and Queen Victoria's funeral (1901). 100 years after the Congress of Vienna was 1914, the start of World War I when Chips becomes acting headmaster and Kathy is spoken of as having died long ago. See more »
It must be tremendously interesting to be a schoolmaster, to watch boys grow up and help them along; to see their characters develop and what they become when they leave school and the world gets hold of them. I don't see how you could ever get old in a world that's always young.
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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.
36 of 37 people found this review helpful.
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