Goodbye, Mr. Chips (1939 film)

This article is about the 1939 film. For the 1969 remake, see Goodbye, Mr. Chips (1969 film).
Goodbye, Mr. Chips

Theatrical release poster
Directed by Sam Wood
Produced by Victor Saville
Screenplay by
Based on Goodbye, Mr. Chips
1934 novel
by James Hilton
Music by Richard Addinsell
Cinematography Freddie Young
Edited by Charles Frend
Distributed by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer
Release dates
  • 15 May 1939 (1939-05-15) (UK)
Running time
114 minutes
Country United Kingdom
Language English
Budget $1,051,000[1]
Box office $3,252,000[1]

Goodbye, Mr. Chips is a 1939 British romantic drama film directed by Sam Wood and starring Robert Donat and Greer Garson. Based on the 1934 novel Goodbye, Mr. Chips by James Hilton, the film is about an aged school teacher and former headmaster of a boarding school who recalls his career and his personal life over the decades.[2][3] Produced for the British division of MGM at Denham Studios, Goodbye, Mr. Chips was voted the 72nd greatest British film ever in the BFI Top 100 British films poll.


For the first time in 58 years, because of a cold, retired schoolteacher Mr. Chipping (Robert Donat) misses a first-day assembly at the Brookfield Public School. That evening he falls asleep in his chair and his teaching career is related in flashback.

When 25-year-old Charles Edward Chipping first arrives as a Latin teacher in 1870, he becomes a target of many practical jokes on his first day. He reacts by imposing strict discipline in his classroom, making him disliked but respected. 20 years pass, his relationship with his pupils improves and he becomes the senior master. He is disappointed in not receiving an appointment as a house master within the school for the following year. However, the new German teacher, Max Staefel (Paul Henreid), saves him from despair by inviting him to share a walking holiday to his native Austria.

While mountain climbing, Chipping encounters Kathy Ellis (Greer Garson), a feisty English suffragette on a cycling holiday. They meet again in Vienna and dance to the Blue Danube Waltz. This piece of music is used as a leitmotif, symbolizing Chipping's love for her. Chipping remarks that the Danube appears blue, but only to those who are in love. On another part of the same boat, as Kathy looks at the river, she notices that it is blue. Even though Kathy is considerably younger and livelier than Chipping, she loves and marries him. They return to England, where Kathy takes up residence at the school, charming everyone with her warmth.

During their tragically short marriage (she dies in childbirth, along with their baby), she brings "Chips" out of his shell and shows him how to be a better teacher. He acquires a flair for Latin puns. As the years pass, Chips becomes a much-loved school institution, developing a rapport with generations of pupils; he teaches the sons and grandsons of many of his earlier pupils.

In 1909, when pressured to retire by a more "modern" headmaster, the boys and the board of governors of the school take his side of the argument and tell him he can stay until he is 100, and is free to pronounce Cicero as SIS-er-ro, and not as KEE-kir-ro.

Chips finally retires in 1914 at age 69, but is summoned back to serve as interim headmaster because of the shortage of teachers resulting from the First World War. He remembers Kathy had predicted he would become headmaster one day. During a bombing attack by a German zeppelin, Chips insists that the boys keep on translating their Latin - choosing the story of Julius Caesar's battles against Germanic tribes, which describes the latter's belligerent nature, much to the amusement of his pupils. As the Great War drags on, Chips reads aloud into the school's Roll of Honour every Sunday the names of the many former boys and teachers who have died in battle. Upon finding out that Max Staefel has died fighting on the German side, Chips also reads out his name in chapel.

He retires permanently in 1918. He is on his deathbed in 1933 when he overhears his friends talking about him. He responds, "I thought you said it was a pity, a pity I never had children. But you're wrong. I have! Thousands of them, thousands of them – and all boys."


Filming locations

The exteriors of the buildings of the fictional Brookfield School were shot at Repton School,[4][5] an independent school (at the time of filming, for boys only), located in the village of Repton in Derbyshire, whilst the interiors, school courtyards and annexes, including the supposedly exterior shots of the Austrian Tyrol Mountains, were filmed at Denham Film Studios[6] near the village of Denham in Buckinghamshire. Around 300 boys from Repton School stayed on during the school holidays so that they could appear in the film.[7]


Richard Addinsell's score for the film has been included in a CD of his work. The liner notes of the CD include the lyrics for the Brookfield School song which is heard over the beginning cast credits as well as throughout the film itself. The lyrics in the body of the film are all but unintelligible, but per the notes, the lyrics are as follows:

Let the years pass but our hearts will remember,
Schooldays at Brookfield ended too soon.
Fight to the death in the mire of November,
Last wicket rattles on evenings in June,
Grey granite walls that were gay with our laughter,
Green of the fields where our feet used to roam.
We shall remember, whate’er may come after,
Brookfield our mother and Brookfield our home.

Box office

According to MGM records the film earned $1,717,000 in the US and Canada and $1,535,000 elsewhere resulting in a profit of $1,305,000.[1]

Academy Awards and nominations

The film was nominated for seven Academy Awards for Outstanding Production, Best Director, Actor, Actress, Best Writing, Screenplay, Best Film Editing, and Best Sound.[8] It was up against Gone with the Wind in all seven categories; Robert Donat won for Best Actor, beating Laurence Olivier, Clark Gable and James Stewart, though Goodbye, Mr. Chips lost to Gone With the Wind in five of the six remaining categories, while Mr. Smith Goes to Washington won Best Original Story. (Best Sound went to When Tomorrow Comes.)

Award Result Nominee
Outstanding Production Nominated Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (Victor Saville, producer)
Winner was Gone with the Wind (Selznick International Pictures (David O. Selznick, producer))
Best Director Nominated Sam Wood
Winner was Victor FlemingGone with the Wind
Best Actor Won Robert Donat
Best Actress Nominated Greer Garson
Winner was Vivien LeighGone with the Wind
Best Writing, Screenplay Nominated R. C. Sherriff, Claudine West, Eric Maschwitz
Winner was Sidney HowardGone with the Wind
Best Film Editing Nominated Charles Frend
Winner was Hal C. Kern and James E. NewcomGone with the Wind
Best Sound, Recording Nominated A. W. Watkins
Winner was Bernard B. BrownWhen Tomorrow Comes

1969 remake

Goodbye, Mr. Chips was remade as a musical in 1969, starring Peter O'Toole and Petula Clark.


  1. 1 2 3 The Eddie Mannix Ledger, Los Angeles: Margaret Herrick Library, Center for Motion Picture Study.
  2. Variety film review; 17 May 1939, page 12.
  3. Harrison's Reports film review; 17 June 1939, page 94.
  4. Movies made in the Midlands, accessed March 2011
  5. Repton, Derbyshire, accessed March 2011
  6. Goodbye, Mr Chips, accessed March 2011
  7. "Repton Schoolboys To Take Part In Film". Arts and Entertainment. The Times (48078). London. 20 August 1938. p. 8.
  8. "The 12th Academy Awards (1940) Nominees and Winners". Retrieved 2011-08-11.
Wikimedia Commons has media related to Goodbye, Mr. Chips (1939 film).

Streaming audio

This article is issued from Wikipedia - version of the 10/16/2016. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.