Directed by Sam Wood
Based on the novella Goodbye, Mr. Chips by James Hilton
Screenplay by R.C. Sherriff, Claudine West, Eric Maschwitz
Starring: Robert Donat, Greer Garson, Paul Henreid, Terry Kilburn
The cinematic class of 1939 includes Gone with the Wind, Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, The Wizard of Oz, and many other great movies. Goodbye, Mr. Chips was also part of that great year in cinema, earning a Best Picture nomination. The film was based on the 1934 novella, Goodbye, Mr. Chips, written by James Hilton (Mrs. Miniver). Sam Wood (The Pride of the Yankees) directed, using a script written by R.C. Sherriff (Odd Man Out), Claudine West (Random Harvest), and Eric Maschwitz (Danger in Paris). Wood would also earn a nomination for Best Director. Robert Donat (The Citadel) stars in this one alongside Greer Garson (Madame Curie), Paul Henreid (Casablanca), and Terry Kilburn (The Challenge).
This is a wonderfully crafted drama that takes on the life of one man. The writing does an excellent job creating all the right moments to focus on. Every step forward in the story shows the changes in the people and the world around them. The characters feel like real people, with traits that feel genuine to the story. The dialogue written for this film is fun and heartfelt. This is an emotional film that works hard to keep the audience connected with the main characters. The trio of writers behind the script were nominated for an Oscar for Best Writing for their work in this one.
This film features an incredible cast, built around the performance of Robert Donat. His performance is excellent, adapting to the age of his character and the circumstances of every moment. He also creates a wonderful chemistry with Greer Garson. Their combined work really gives this one some special moments throughout the movie. Robert Donat would win the Best Actor Oscar for this film, beating out great performances from Clark Gable (Gone with the Wind), Jimmy Stewart (Mr. Smith Goes to Washington), Mickey Rooney (Babes in Arms), and Laurence Olivier (Wuthering Heights). Greer Garson was also nominated for her work, but lost to Vivien Leigh (Gone with the Wind). Paul Henreid and Terry Kilburn are just a couple more of the standout performers in this one. The entire cast did a great job bringing this one to life.
This is a beautiful movie, proving that black and white films could hold up in the new world of color movies. The sets are wonderfully designed for the era, and add a level of charm to the movie. The film also features great original music, written by Richard Addinsell (My Week with Marilyn). In addition to the nominations already mentioned, this one was nominated for Best Sound Recording and Best Film Editing.
This is a classic movie that earned seven Oscar nominations in a year where classics were plentiful. I would encourage anyone and everyone to see this film. The performances are wonderful, and the material is richly written. Some aspects of the production show the age of the movie, but it’s nothing that hurts the experience. While other films of 1939 might be more widely known, this one deserves to be seen. I give this one 5 out of 5 stars.