Monday, July 14, 2003


Further update on writing and cycling with this biographical detail about James Hilton
After a week without inspiration he went out cycling "in a blue funk" on a foggy winter morning in Epping Forest until "suddenly an idea bobbed up and (he) saw the whole story in a flash". In four days he had "banged out" a story about an elderly, much-loved schoolmaster which he entitled Goodbye, Mr Chips.
boynton watched the ITV remake starring Martin Clunes last night, but having recently watched the Donat/Garson version again was disappointed. The script seemed to miss the keys, the slight shift from the personal to the institutional focus meant that the essential story of the power of love to transform and renew, of the critical mass of kindness and confidence, was lost in the fulsome chronology. Readers have probably picked up by now that boynton is a sucker for the (supposed) sentimental and mawkish - but the '39 film balances the sentiment with the shock of the story, the truth of the characters. (Maybe boynton has a high sentimental threshold, and rising.) It's a reminder of the art of the golden era that a script could condense a story so well. Boynton wondered if a classic script is ever used as a template, that like a play the remake is in the new cast and direction. New actors and directors alone are enough to imaginatively regenerate a suposedly dated script?

Comments: chips

Don't think Clunes was as good as Donat nor whatsername as good as Garson. However, I thought they handled the sentimentality more in keeping with our, not their, times.

His marriage and subsequent development as a human being/teacher was far less ably articulated in this latter version. And was also a lesser part of the story than the 1939 movie.

Never the less, the greater detail of this edition helped flesh out the original movie. Especially if you haven't read the book. As I haven't.
Posted by Tony.T at July 14, 2003 07:13 PM

I left out my sentences about comparing the katherines, Greer v Victoria, because I guess it comes down to personal prejudice - and we can't have that in a blog, can we. Suffice to say: Greer seemed to have the neccesary warmth and charm. Don't agree with you about this one's sentimentality reflecting ours - unless gratuitous refs to suffrage/feminism and the evils inherent in such a class-riddled institution (in the first place)are meant to fob us off and accept what is essentially an old-fashioned story. The key emotional moments of the film - sometimes note-worthy for their lack of sentiment in 39, were merely unengaging.
But I do agree that some of the detail of this one was good for us who have not read the text. Sometimes there was however that uneasy feeling of the line between a one-off movie and a mini-series being crossed? Have to revisit the 60's musical version too, one day.
Posted by boynton at July 14, 2003 07:33 PM

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