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Goodbye, Mr. Chips

Director:  Sam Wood
Year Released:  1939
Rating:  2.0

Super teacher Mr. Chipping (Robert Donat) goes from awkward, nervous All Boys School lackey to confident, understanding headmaster over his lifetime - part of the reason for his transformation is his marriage to the lovely Greer Garson (I think it's safe to assume that Chipping's transformation is aided primarily by sex, though I don't want to get into a Freudian state of mind again). My initial joy at the movie's first act was distinguished by the untimely death of Ms. Garson in the second, which seemingly triggers a new kind of tone to the movie: one of mawkishness that pervades through the remainder of the picture and the handful of tragedies that follow (it doesn't help that the final shot of the movie is particularly cloying, namely that of a buck-toothed little boy screeching the movie's title); further, unlike the superb 1943 film Heaven Can Wait, its handling of time is clumsy. Donat is fine as "Mr. Chips," but I feel his wizened form is a lot of makeup work and annoying chuckles instead of a performance - no matter how you look at it, he should not have beaten Clark Gable (as Rhett Butler!) for the Oscar. Come now children, you know how to spell it: h-i-g-h-w-a-y--r-o-b-b-e-r-y.

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