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Arthur Chipping is an academic teaching at Brookfield Boys School outside of London in the 1920's. Although he does what he considers best for his students, they don't much like him, nicknaming him "Ditchy", short for "dull as ditch water". His life changes when he meets Katherine Bridges, a music hall actress and a woman with a questionable past. She affectionately calls him Mr. Chips. Despite their differences, they fall in love. He in particular realizes that in striking a relationship, they will have many obstacles to overcome. He doesn't particularly like the world in which she is involved, including her friends and her profession, and she doesn't exactly fit the mold of a teacher's wife. Still, they decide to get married. She forgoes her career to be Mrs. Chips, living on campus as the housewife of a teacher at a proper boy's school. It is a world in which she will have to learn the rules, or at least bend them to her sensibilities, although she vows never to embarrass him. ... Written by
Oh, but I adore English public schools! I simply worship them all! Even that idiotic Westchester... where you can't ask a boy out to tea without everyone asking the most extraordinary questions.
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When it opened in London during the Christmas season of 1969 this musical version of James Hilton's famous story was drubbed by the critics. The same reception greeted it when it opened in the US, prompting MGM to withdraw its "Roadshow" status and cut almost all of its songs. What a mistake!!!
Watched years later, when the trendy world of the 60's and 70's has turned in upon itself, this version of GOODBYE, MR.CHIPS is a total delight. First of all, as "Chipping", Peter O'Toole gives one of his greatest performances. To watch him turn from the hated, cold, emotionless Latin teacher at a boy's boarding school, to a man who finally can see the colors in the world (after falling for and marrying musical star Catherine Briskit) is to see a genius at work. (If you can, watch LAWRENCE OF ARABIA, THE LION IN WINTER, MY FAVORITE YEAR and CHIPS back to back over a number of days or weeks. Then you will see what a truly great actor O'Toole is, and how magnificent he is in CHIPS.)
Catherine, as played by the glowing Petula Clark, at the height of her popularity, is ever man's dream; beautiful, loving, understanding, with a great voice to boot. Most of the songs are beautiful and fit the story perfectly, while the direction by the late Herbert Ross brings the proceedings wonderfully to life.
Okay, this film may be a bit too romantic for some people, but for those who are looking for a beautifully acted, sung, and directed love story, look no further. (If you can get your hands of the laser disc wide screen version, better yet. I am anxiously awaiting CHIPS' debut on DVD.)
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