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Tom Brown's School Days (1940)

 -  Drama  -  19 July 1940 (USA)
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Ratings: 6.8/10 from 281 users  
Reviews: 10 user | 5 critic

A young boy starts at Rugby boarding school. He is tormented by Flashman, the school bully.



(novel), (adaptation), 4 more credits »
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Title: Tom Brown's School Days (1940)

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Complete credited cast:
Dr. Thomas Arnold (as Sir Cedric Hardwicke)
Freddie Bartholomew ...
Jimmy Lydon ...
Josephine Hutchinson ...
Billy Halop ...
Polly Moran ...
Sally Harowell
Hughie Green ...
Walker Brooke
Ernest Cossart ...
Alec Craig ...
Old Thomas
Antoinette Rotche ...
Tom Brown's Nanny


Thomas Arnold is hired to be the new headmaster at Rugby, whose students have acquired a reputation for being wild, disruptive, and dishonest. He institutes strict disciplinary policies, and expels numerous boys as a result. Many of the teachers, trustees, and parents turn against him. Squire Brown, his most vocal supporter, decides to send his own son Tom to Rugby as a demonstration of confidence. Tom soon learns that the school is plagued by bullies, and he is frequently targeted by them. He and the other boys are hindered, though, by an unwritten understanding that none of them will ever report the misdeeds of another to the authorities. Written by Snow Leopard

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

boy | rugby | school | bully | headmaster | See All (25) »






Approved | See all certifications »




Release Date:

19 July 1940 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Adventures at Rugby  »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(RCA Recording System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Gale Storm's movie debut. See more »


When the boy shoots a pea-shooter at Fleishman from the back, it hits near the top of his stovepipe hat yet he grabs back of his neck in pain. See more »


Dr. Thomas Arnold: A new boy is always important. He may be an influence for good or for evil.
See more »

Crazy Credits

Movie based on Thomas Hugh's novel, yet he's given no credit for it. See more »


Version of Tom Brown's Schooldays (2005) See more »

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User Reviews

Not my favorite version, but an okay version nonetheless
3 December 2011 | by (The world of artists) – See all my reviews

This film is not the first screen adaption of the classic story of Tom Brown's schooldays. There is actually a version made in 1916 which I never saw but even if I could, sincerely I wouldn't bother with it. It's too old even for me and it's silent (I dislike silent movies).

The 1940 version was therefore the first version with sound and the first "true" version. It was directed by Robert Stevenson who'd become famous years later for directing several Disney films such as 'Old Yeller', 'Mary Poppins', 'The Gnome-Mobile', 'The Love Bug', 'Herbie Rides Again' and 'Bedknobs and Broomsticks'.

I got to know 3 versions of "Tom Brown's Schooldays": 1940, 1951 and 2005. There is also a 1971 version as a TV show but I never saw it. Of all the versions I got to know, my favorite is the one from 1951. It's a very rare case of a remake that's better than the original (even if it's possibly not as faithful to the book than the 1940 version) and therefore more watchable. But the 1940 film is not bad, it is actually a decent alternative. The 2005 version is fairly weak, no matter how hard they tried.

Sir Cedric Hardwicke plays the charismatic Dr. Thomas Arnold with wiseness and class. I like him as Dr. Arnold as much as Robert Newton when it comes to acting, although in this version he is more prone to expelling boys and more intolerant in certain things. As a person, I prefer the more sympathetic Dr. Arnold played by Robert Newton.

John Howard Davies is my favorite Tom Brown, but I also like this version's Tom Brown sentimentally played by Jimmy Lydon. If you ask me, Jimmy Lydon makes a different Tom Brown but equally likable and interesting.

I have mixed feelings about East in this version. Even if he is greatly played by Freddie Bartholomew, the character himself isn't always very sympathetic. In the 1951 version, East is nicer and friendlier to Tom if still occasionally selfish.

Billy Halop is an interesting choice as Flashman, as good as the actor in the 1951 version, just different. Comparing to the 1951 version, Flashman is generally less intimidating although almost as vicious.

This version seems more detailed and realistic than the others in some ways and yet not as detailed in other aspects. The beginning is considerably different and many events happen much sooner and quicker than in other versions, which also makes its last 30 minutes different from other versions - with stuff missing in them. Having that said, this version has similarities with the others too.

2 of 4 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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