Goodbye, Mr. Chips (1969)

6.82 h 34 min1969G
Peter O'Toole stars in this musical classic about a prim English schoolmaster who learns to show his compassion through the help of an outgoing showgirl.
Herbert Ross
Peter O'ToolePetula ClarkMichael Redgrave
DramaRomanceArts, Entertainment, and Culture
English [CC]
Audio languages
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Supporting actors
Alison LeggattSiân PhillipsMichael BryantGeorge Baker
Arthur P. Jacobs
G (General Audience)
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4.7 out of 5 stars

722 global ratings

  1. 80% of reviews have 5 stars
  2. 11% of reviews have 4 stars
  3. 5% of reviews have 3 stars
  4. 2% of reviews have 2 stars
  5. 2% of reviews have 1 stars
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Top reviews from the United States

A. Film LoverReviewed in the United States on September 17, 2020
3.0 out of 5 stars
Five stars for Petula, five for Mr. O'Toole, and one for Herbert Ross
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Look, this isn't a good movie. Once we get beyond that we can try to figure out why everyone here thinks it's worth five stars. The most obvious reason is that some people give five stars to any film musical, bad or good. Then we have the O'Toole fans and the Petula fans. I doubt if anyone here actually knows the name Terence Rattigan, so let's forget his fans, even though he's a brilliant writer - this not being his finest hour, not necessarily all his fault but it does have some of the Rattigan brilliance once you shovel through all that doesn't need to be there.

And then let's get to the crux of the matter, Mr. Herbert Ross, whose first film this was. Since he'd only choreographed the film of Funny Girl and a couple of Cliff Richard movies, one does wonder how he was handed the directorial duties on a large budget film. Clearly he knew nothing about film - that is clear from frame one right through to the end. The zoom lens is so overused that it becomes literally nausea-inducing. It has no business in this film at all, but clearly he thought the zoom lens meant he was a film director. Scenes are horribly staged for the camera (note the long sequence where Petula re-meets Mr. Chips, truly one of the worst-directed scenes in the history of cinema), there's no sense of pace at all, and the diffusion filters of Oswald Morris do no one any favors. For much of its running time, it's a lumpen mess.

O'Toole takes some getting used to in the first forty-five minutes of the film but he's terrific once you do. Petula is wonderful - very fresh and real and does what she can in a hugely expanded role from both novel and original film. Making her a stage performer enables them to work in a couple of numbers for her, and she does what she can with them but they're there for all the wrong reasons (the number with the boys fares better than London is London, which is horribly directed). Then Mr. Ross can't make up his mind as to whether the songs are inner monologues or sung out loud, so he has both. Choose one - both doesn't work. "You and I" is the best song in the score but isn't placed especially well. The other songs are short and banal and don't need to be there at all, which begs the question as to why this simple story needed to be a roadshow and/or a musical. First of all, Peter O'Toole speaks his way through three songs that barely last four minutes between the three - why? Mr. Chips shouldn't sing at all - that would have been the smart choice, just to give Miss Clark the songs because she has a reason for singing. Well, one could go on, but why?

But oddly, by the end of the film, you get sucked in, thanks to Mr. O'Toole. He's very affecting. There's a lovely scene between he and the grandson of his former nemesis - that should have led directly to the final scene, but no, we have to have one more one-minute ditty warbled by O'Toole in voiceover, which robs that moment of what should be its power. It's just a bad movie, but O'Toole and Clark are so good it helps make the pill go down easier.
3 people found this helpful
GenglerReviewed in the United States on December 30, 2013
4.0 out of 5 stars
How did I miss Mr Chips for 40+ years?
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This was a wonderful film - only gave it 4 stars instead of 5, because - let's face it - it's not Guys & Dolls, West Side Story, or even My Fair Lady. This is not a classic. But it is a truly wonderful viewing experience.

Well scripted and superbly acted - it goes without saying that O Toole is astounding (another role that he was robbed of an Oscar; it went to the academy's emotional favorite, the dying John Wayne in 1970 for True Grit). More surprising is the lively on-screen presence of Petula Clark, who displays genuine, bona-fide screen chemistry with her screen counterpart.

Putting the film in context, it is easy to see why I had overlooked it all of this time (despite my own love and involvement in musical theater). Goodbye, Mr Chips is a decidedly backwards looking film - produced at a time when America had no interest in looking backwards - especially to Britain's past. While the content is timeless and universal, 1969/70 was the year of Midnight Cowboy - a film whose gritty, urban decay realism and mainstream X rating changed Hollywood, and audience expectations, as well as Butch Cassidy & The Sundance Kid (which won best song for Bacharach/David with RKFOMH). Poor Mr. Chips - what seems charming and timeless now, seemed hopelessly dated and even antiquated back then.

Matters were now helped by the serviceable, uninspired, and unmemorable score. There's is not a memorable or hummable song in the film (although Petula makes a valient effort in some music hall review numbers) Leslie Bricusse could not compete with other musical released that year, including Paint Your Wagon, Sweet Charity, and god help us all - Hello Dolly!

Like the tortoise and the hare, those film musicals have aged poorly, and are now viewed as inferior incarnations of their staged counterparts. Mr. Chips - chippy - keeps calm and carries on, in keeping with its eponymous character - slowly, stoically, respectfully and gallantly.

Perhaps its my own age. Perhaps its self-recognition in its portrayal of the vicissitudes of life, the unpredictability of love, and the preciousness of each moment. Perhaps its my love of teaching, and the films allowing me to pause and reflect on the hundreds whose lives I've touched - in some ways that I will never know.

Regardless - it is not contradictory to say that Goodbye, Mr Chips - a large, old fashioned road-show feature film musical - is, in its own way, a small, humble film about a small, humble life - whose majesty is reflected by those who were illuminated, however briefly, by his light.
17 people found this helpful
CWPReviewed in the United States on November 28, 2021
5.0 out of 5 stars
Lovely and Entertaining!
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I find this film so charming and enjoyable. The music, performances and photography are wonderful. I read some of the negative comments and all I can say is that I've seen the film many times and it always has entertained me perfectly. That's more than I can say for some of the 'classics' that I've seen mentioned. But I'm not a film expert. Just wish it would get the Blu-ray treatment.
One person found this helpful
BillReviewed in the United States on May 20, 2019
5.0 out of 5 stars
Classic!!! Please check it out...
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Great movie... liked the update from earlier version. 👏🏻👏🏻👍 Petula Clark managed to show sooo many emotions and pathos as the wife. awesome..👍 As to Peter O'Toole...unbelievable...spectacular... taking an English gentleman professor... into love.. and then beyond... just awesome..
6 people found this helpful
SundayAtDuskReviewed in the United States on June 13, 2018
3.0 out of 5 stars
Something Was Missing . . . .
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This is the type of movie I should have really loved, but did not. It was okay, but not worth the $3.99 SD rental fee, in my opinion. Peter O'Toole was good in his role of a British public school master, as was Petula Clark in her showgirl turned devoted wife role. Except for the childhood song in the beginning, though, the soundtrack was totally forgettable, and I ended up fast forwarding through many songs. Fortunately, though, it was not one of those musicals where someone burst into song every five minutes. While at no point did I consider turning off the movie, I still never felt captivated by it. In some ways, it's a deep story, yet there was always a nagging feeling of shallowness. Rod Serling's twenty-four minute episode "The Changing Of The Guard" ([[ASIN:B000I0F81S Twilight Zone Season 3]]) packed a more powerful punch than this two hour, thirty-four minute movie.
2 people found this helpful
Richard BrennanReviewed in the United States on February 3, 2009
4.0 out of 5 stars
Sentimental Musical Chips is Made Whole Again
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Hooray! Warner has delivered the original widescreen restored road show version of the film. The extras, unfortunately, are just trailers and, sadly there is no commentary (especially as Petula Clark, Peter O'Toole and Leslie Bricusse are all still around and have a well-known fondness for this project). The visuals look a bit soft -but they were shot that way, mostly with long lenses on a fast film stock.

The Movie
"Goodbye, Mr. Chips" is a lovely, sentimental story of a quiet, some might say even ordinary, man.

Producer Arthur P. Jacobs put the production in the hands of first time directory Herbert Ross (later to direct "The Goodbye Girl " and just about every Neil Simon movie in the 70's and 80's). Ross wanted to incorporate the way songs were used in films like "The Graduate" and" Easy Rider"; as counterpoint and commentary on the action, rather than being sung on screen. As with most first time directors the end results are mixed - but what's good is very good indeed.

The rock solid core of the movie is Peter O'Toole's portrayal of schoolmaster Arthur Chipping. Just watch his final speech as headmaster at the end of the movie: a man slowed by advanced age (in his 70's?) but mentally facile; characteristically stoic but capable of deep emotion. Then remind yourself: this part is being played by a 36-year-old Irishman, who a year earlier was the rowdy, forceful King Henry II in "Lion in Winter" . The proper, introverted Mr. Chipping is a world away from that lusty king - but always vividly real.

Petula Clark contributes an earthy emotional counterpoint to Chips stuffiness. She's in great voice and completely convincing as the stage star who's sampled the good life and found it wanting. The script doesn't do her any favors in slathering on the whole "a real woman gives up her career and finds fulfillment in the love of her man" theme . But Pet makes me believe that the choices are on her terms.

And what can you say about Sian Phillips scenery-chewing cameo as a 1920's stage vamp, Ursula Mossbank? At their last leave taking, she calls out over her shoulder as she heads out the door, "Well I'll see you tomorrow, or next week, or in heaven or somewhere...". Chips replies, "In heaven, certainly", smiling at Kathrine.

The music: I love "Walk Through the World", "Schooldays", "Fill the World With Love" and the moody "Where Did My Childhood Go". And I can't step off a plane at Heathrow without the catchy lyrics to "London is London" spinning in my head. On the other hand, I can definitely live without "The Sky Smiled". To make matters worse, Ross zooms in and out throughout this number like a first-time father with a new camcorder. Even so, John Williams orchestrates and scores the film with the dramatic style he would later bring to his own scores in the next decade.

Backstage note: Some have asked, "Why make a musical of Goodby, Mr. Chips?" Arthur P. Jacobs' answer in 1964 was this: Rex Harrison and Julie Andrews directed by Vincent Minnelli with a score by Andre Previn. But finding the right format and score was difficult, with Previn writing and discarding songs. Jacobs had to go forward with other projects ("Dr. Doolittle" and "Planet of the Apes") and as a result he lost both his stars. Richard Burton stepped in, then Leslie Bricusse replaced Previn as composer. Petula Clark signed on. Burton out; Peter O'Toole in. And I, for one, couldn't be happier that he took up the part.

Fan note: Did you know that there is a 3 CD set of the entire score (songs and background music) PLUS the contents of the original soundtrack LP PLUS outtakes, alternate versions, and interviews with Leslie Bricusse and the cast: [[ASIN:B000FI9U6M Goodbye, Mr. Chips]] If Amazon doesn't have it then Google for it.
6 people found this helpful
Les G. SolomonReviewed in the United States on June 23, 2004
4.0 out of 5 stars
A movie masterpiece that could have been served better on DVD
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Anyone who has read my previous ravings on this genuinely under rated masterpiece will know I have enormous affection for this film. I think it is my favourite movie of all time, it has stood the test of 40 years and remains fresh, charming and full of wit and genuine humanity.

Terrence Rattigan script positively rattles with great one liners and unlike the good but very dated 1939 version, it is not overtly sentimental or overplays the tragedies of the story. A great CD was released of the movie a few years ago, in that much is illustrated as to missing material cut from the film, some superb interviews with the stars and great unseen stills. It is such a shame that now when the movie finally comes, long overdue to DVD, that it is so short on any extras (as someone pointed out O Toole and Clarke would have jumped at the chance to discuss the film). I do not agree with the writer who said that unless you had seen the reserved seat roadshow version of the movie you had not seen this complete version until now. !!! This is exactly the same version available on laser disc and Video, albeit on video it was pan and scan. All the cuts and edits made in the early stages of the film's release remain here, ie the edited version of "Schooldays" and Peter O Toole's heartbreaking "When I Was Younger' which was recorded for the Cd, shot for the film (there are stills in the CD) but was cut , early in the release process.

Please dont get me wrong, all the latter cuts of the movie have been restored, so this is as full a length version of the film as has been seen by most of the public and is not that abominable 130 minute version which used to be shown on Tv quite a lot, but its still not the entirely complete version, sure there are overtures and intermission medlies and exit music etc(all of which were on the video ) but a 2 disc version that would have included some of the deleted scenes and interviews past and present with the still living stars would have brought it in line with the remarkable CD version still available.

What remains is a fine if not brilliant print of the film, that is darker and less washed out than the earlier Video release, beautiful sound and of course the marvellous marvellous movie itself, but, oh, what could have been done with this still very popular movie. I wonder whether Warners will ever realise what they have a re do a special version, I doubt it, but we can live in hope. !!
5 people found this helpful
Lawrence G. KelleyReviewed in the United States on March 20, 2016
4.0 out of 5 stars
A Triumph by Peter O'Toole
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First, full disclosure: I deeply admire Peter O'Toole's acting. Having said so, I still rate his performance in this film as a triumph - particularly the scene after his wife's death - and do not attribute this rating to positive personal bias. With few words but deep emotion, he achieves poignance reached only by the most talented and focused actors. O'Toole puts himself fully into the character of Chips, convincingly conveying the speech, mannerisms, and naivete of a dedicated but hopelessly "ivory-tower" school master. His interaction with Petula Clark, normally known only as a pop singer from a bygone era, works magnificently, allowing her to display previously unrecognized ability. And the humor of the society scenes left me laughing loudly.
Regrettably, Leslie Bricusse's score fails to rise above mediocrity; no memorable song emerges from the production.. I would have expected greater artistry from the gifted composer of such hits as "What Kind of Fool Am I?" and "Who Can I Turn To?"
All in all, a fine, if nostalgic, film featuring a superb performance by one of the finest actors of the XX Century.
8 people found this helpful
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