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This Review Reveals Minor Details About the Plot.

Fond Memories of Long Ago

Goodbye, Mr. Chips (1939) on IMDb

Plot Overview

A tall steeple and tolling bell introduce us to Brookfield (Public) School, founded in 1492, dedicated to piety and learning. Affable doyen Mr. Charles Chipping (Robert Donat) offers encouragement to a new boy (a “stinker”) telling him starting can be painful as he well knows. Mr. Chipping started in 1870 and stayed until 15 years ago. Relaxing in his dwelling (“ Things are different now.”) under the minis­trations of fuss­budget Mrs. Wickett (Louise Hampton), he thinks back to “a long time ago.”

He started teaching lower school prep where his need to discipline the unruly boys led to his unpopularity and it only got worse in a vicious cycle. His one friend a German master Max Staefel (Paul Henreid) collared him one year for a walking tour of Austria during vacation. In the Alps he met a young English­woman Katherine Ellis (Greer Garson) who was bicycling with a friend. They hit it off and got married in St. James Church, Bloomsbury.

She managed to faire une sensation at the school with both boys and staff, and she inspired “Mr. Chips” to develop his heart­felt heroic calling as a teacher and molder of men. Though it wasn't in the cards for him to have children of his own, he led a fulfilling life influencing the thousands of boys who passed through the school.


Mr. 'Chips' Chipping's final words were, “I thought I heard you saying it was a pity … I never had any children. But you're wrong. I have. thousands of them.” With a switch in sexes this reflects, (Gal. 4:27) “For it is written, Rejoice, thou barren that bearest not; break forth and cry, thou that travailest not: for the desolate hath many more children than she which hath an husband.” The latter story can be encountered in the movie, “The Bible: In the Beginning” in the chapter, “The Hand­maiden's Tale,” when barren Sarai tells Abram, “The Lord hath restrained me from bearing. I pray thee go in unto my maid according to that law which says when a wife is barren, her hand­maid may bear for her.” This did net Abram a boy child, but later the tables get turned when, (Heb. 11:11) “Through faith also Sara herself received strength to conceive seed, and was delivered of a child when she was past age, because she judged him faithful who had promised.” This child's blessed progeny was great, leading the scholarly apostle to come up with an allegory depicting the fruitful life of a Christian living by grace exceeding that of one living by strict laws. In our movie, “Goodbye, Mr. Chips” we do see the old fellow exceedingly fruitful at the end, more than in his days as a strict disciplinarian.

For that matter there were two pairs of women touring Austria by bicycle whom Max and Chips encountered on their walking tour. They some­how made advances to both, one rejecting them in a febrile rant, the other accepting Chips with grace. To clarify the matter, let us note that middle aged Mr. Chips was 25 years senior to the girls. Katherine said, “I like men to be old fashioned” but the other treated any advance as if it were a crime. The latter is almost the subject of a later joke Mr. Chips told in class, a pun. He wrote on the board the Latin phrase, Lex Canuleia. That is the law that forbad a patrician from marrying a plebeian. By and by, Lex Canuleia was repealed and a plebeian asked a patrician to marry him. The latter said she couldn't because of Lex Canuleia (pronounced can-u-li-a.) Remarked the plebeian, “Yes you can, you liar.” It took the (Latin speaking) class a moment to get it, too.

While we're dealing with mixed marriages of different kinds and with allegories between the spiritual realm and marriage, I refer you to my brief essay on this very subject where St. Joseph's doubts about his pregnant Mary were assuaged by an angel telling him in a dream that he should feel free to go ahead and marry her since the child she was carrying is holy, making the marriage sanctified as well. The analogy is where the apostle Paul tells a Christian that his or her marriage to a non-Christian is sanctified because any children they produce are holy. There­fore once one works it out he'll find that indeed a Christian is allowed to marry an unbeliever after all. That doesn't mean he can't say NO, only that there isn't a specific law forbidding him to, and he who says other­wise is a liar.

Production Values

This classic, “” (1939) was directed by Sam Woods. Its screenplay was written by R.C. Sherriff and Claudine West. It was based on James Hilton's book Goodbye, Mr. Chips. It stars Robert Donat, Greer Garson, and Terry Kilburn. Robert Donat gave a top-notch performance well deserving of the Academy Award he won among stiff competition. Greer Garson was charming in this her first screen appearance.

This movie is unrated due to the its early days draft. It should be fine for young viewers.

Review Conclusion w/ Christian Recommendation

This movie is marvelous in its ability to touch one's heartstrings. Hard to keep a dry eye. This is the kind of flick the screen was made for. Top ratings.

Movie Ratings

Action Factor: Weak action scenes. Suitability for children: Not rated, pre-code. Special effects: Average special effects. Video Occasion: Good Date Movie. Suspense: A few suspenseful moments. Overall movie rating: Five stars out of five.