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Tom Brown's School Days (1940)

Approved | | Drama | 19 July 1940 (USA)
A young boy starts at Rugby boarding school. He is tormented by Flashman, the school bully.


Robert Stevenson


Thomas Hughes (novel), Walter Ferris (adaptation) | 4 more credits »

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Complete credited cast:
Cedric Hardwicke ... Dr. Thomas Arnold (as Sir Cedric Hardwicke)
Freddie Bartholomew ... Ned East
Jimmy Lydon ... Tom Brown
Josephine Hutchinson ... Mrs. Mary Arnold
Billy Halop ... Flashman
Polly Moran ... Sally Harowell
Hughie Green ... Walker Brooke
Ernest Cossart ... Squire Brown
Alec Craig ... Old Thomas
Gale Storm ... Effie
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






Approved | See all certifications »






Release Date:

19 July 1940 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Adventures at Rugby See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Mono (RCA Recording System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


The earliest documented telecasts of this film in New York City occurred Monday 30 December 1946 on DuMont Television Network's WABD (Channel 5) and in Los Angeles Sunday 29 February 1948 on DuMont's KTLA (Channel 5), followed by Baltimore Friday 9 April 1948 on WMAR (Channel 2), and by Detroit Sunday 2 May 1948 on WWJ (Channel 4). In San Francisco it first aired Saturday 14 May 1949 on the City's second commercial television station, freshly launched KGO (Channel 7), and in Cincinnati Tuesday 6 September 1949 on WKRC (Channel 11). 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 »


Squire Brown: You know our schools: nurseries of iniquity and vice. We want the revolution in education.
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Crazy Credits

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


Spin-off Royal Flash (1975) See more »


The Lincolnshire Poacher
[Film's theme, and sung by the Rugby students in celebration]
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User Reviews

British public schools are strange places
3 March 2015 | by bkoganbingSee all my reviews

In Mutiny On The Bounty I remember there's a scene where Charles Laughton is questioning someone about who did what. Someone else owned up to it and got a flogging. The guy who wouldn't rat got the same flogging because as Laughton put it, "when I ask for information I expect to get it."

That might have been a whole lot easier on poor Tom Brown who is played here by Jimmy Lydon. His father Ernest Cossart has sent him to Rugby School where the headmaster is Cedric Hardwicke who wants to raise manly and honest kids and not bullies.

But that's what young Tom is faced with by an older kid played here with relish by Billy Halop of the Dead End Kids. What to do, because the one thing that's worse than bullying is ratting out your fellow students.

Lydon stands up to Halop and actually beats him in a well fought if unofficial bout. But Hardwicke finds out about it and expels Halop.

Naturally this could only happen if Lydon ratted him out. Tradition dictates he be shunned and shunned he is. Especially by his roommate and previous benefactor Freddie Bartholomew.

These kids have an honor system that West Point would envy. And Hardwicke is a man rock bound in his principles and ideas. It all seems a bit silly, but in this day and age we're finally trying to address bullying in a real way. Although this film has its flaws it has assumed an interesting relevancy for today's kids.

In this all male setting some women have some good parts. Mack Sennett comedienne Polly Moran plays the owner of the potato shop where the kids get their 'Murphys' which is a rather unflattering reference to what was the national crop of Ireland and probably some Irish farmers worked hard so these kids could enjoy their treats. Gale Storm plays Moran's young daughter who no doubt gets the lads hormones working. And Josephine Hutchinson plays the supportive and kind Mrs. Hardwicke, supportive to the kids as well as her husband.

I'd see the BBC mini-series first, but this is not a bad film.

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