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Goodbye, Mr. Chips”  (1934©)  —  book review
Like a dog with a fresh bone, sometimes I find it hard to let go…
Over this last weekend, I indulged my OCD and read the short novel “Goodbye, Mr. Chips” (1934©), written by James Hilton.  Amazon says the paperback is seventy pages, but there are eighteen chapters and most seem less than a full page long.  I read the novella in under two hours.  The book is in public domain, so you can download it and read it for free.
The book has a number of adaptations, including movies made in 1939 (a drama) and 1969 (a musical – review here), a TV series from 1984 (BBC) and a TV movie from 2002 (ITV).  More on these later…  (OCD remember).
The author, James Hilton was the son of a school headmaster and he attended a public boarding school.  Note: a “public” school in England is a “private” school in the U.S. Hilton is said to have based the work on both his father and a master (“teacher / instructor”) at his own school (although it is believed to be mostly based on the teacher at the school he attended).
The main character of the novel and movies, Mr. Chipping, spends the majority of his life (50-plus years) teaching Latin (and Greek) at a single school (Brookfield School) and the book is a reminiscence of his time there.  There are two notable occurrences: one is the meeting of a best-friend Herr (Max) Staefel, the school’s German language teacher and the second is a chance meeting with a young lady who ultimately becomes his wife.  The “shock” of the wedding is not just the marriage of a “confirmed” bachelor, but that the bride is considerably younger than the groom (on the order of 23 years) AND she is as attractive as he is staid.  The book is unclear how long they are wed (roughly one year to eighteen months) as she passes away in childbirth (on 1 April – “April Fool’s Day”).  Chipping stays long enough at the school that he instructs four generations of one family and, on his deathbed, only his housemaid is aware that he was ever married (over thirty years before the death scene).  This results in the famous lines that it was a shame he never had any sons of his own who might have attended the school.  Chipping’s dying response is that indeed he did, thousands of them – and all boys.
Final recommendation: very highly recommended!  I would recommend reading this very short book before viewing any of the four adaptations, but I have seen all of them (three of them in the last week) and you won’t be put off by reversing my call.
Goodbye, Mr. Chips” (1984)  —  TV series review
This version of the novella was on the BBC in six half-hour episodes (roughly three hours run time) and starred Roy Marsden as Chipping and Jill Meager as his wife.  I am fairly certain this is the first version I saw of the adaptations as I have a distinct memory of the cricket scene which appears in the this version.  I believe I saw this version on PBS, and probably first viewed it with my new (British) wife in 1985, the summer after we married.  The series is available on YouTube, which is where I watched it this weekend.
Final recommendation: strong to highly recommended.  As stated above, this was my first exposure to the “Chips” story, so it has a special place in my heart / memory.  I will add this version is closer to the actual time frame depicted in the book and the first (1939) movie version.  It also is much closer to being an anti-war movie than the book or other adaptations.  Finally, in this version, Katherine (Bridges) Chipping is an unemployed governess living with her aunt in London, as opposed to the stage singer / dancer portrayed in the 1969 musical adaptation.
Goodbye, Mr. Chips” (2002)  —  TV movie review
Staring Martin Clunes (of Doc Martin fame) as Mr. Chipping and Victoria Hamilton as Katherine (Bridges) Chipping.  This version appeared on ITV and Masterpiece Theater as a two hour “TV movie”.  I watched it on YouTube where it runs as six episodes of approximately 15 min.  This version is not only an anti-war movie, it is also anti-bullying.  It goes out of its way to critique the hazing of new students and bullying of the younger and smaller students by the bigger, older and / or wealthier students.
At first I found it difficult to get past the “Doc Martin” typecast I have for Clunes.  I didn’t care for his aging (special effects / makeup work) as it looked like glued on rubber pieces.  It was more than halfway through, before I could finally see the role and not the actor in the role.  I have a feeling that was as much me as Clunes, though.  Also, the YouTube version I was watching lacked the start of the movie, so I was left wondering if any other parts had been cut out / off.
Final recommendation: moderate to strong.  If this (YouTube version) is the only version you can find, it is good enough for you grasp and enjoy the movie.  Clunes ends up convincing as Chips and Hamilton is equal to the role of Katherine.  She is not nearly as “young beauty” as Meager or as winning as Clark (in the 1969 musical), but, in her own way, I felt she owned the role – particularly in her telling of the tale of the “sun vs wind wager”.
So, all in all, my reading and three viewings of “Goodbye, Mr. Chips” have been very enjoyable.  Each offered a slightly different aspect of what is considered a “classic” English tale and have hi-lighted (to me) what a true gem the story remains – even eighty years on (and counting).  I look forward to watching the 1939 version as soon as I can find it and to re-watching the others when they eventually become generally available (instead of broken up on YouTube).
* The post title is my weak attempt at a Latin translation of: “Goodbye Again, Three Times“.
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On This Day In:
2018 Tweets From The Disrupter-In-Chief
2017 Do We Still Listen To Her Silent Lips?
Not Now, Not Ever
2016 Why Do You Write/Blog?
2015 Can Your Repeat The Question, Please?
2014 On Faith
2013 My Name Is Charles Stein
2012 Faiths And Sorcery
Made And Kept Free
2011 Multi-Source Learning
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