Greatest Film Scenes
and Moments

The Browning Version (1951)


Written by Tim Dirks

Title Screen
Movie Title/Year and Scene Descriptions

The Browning Version (1951, UK)

In director Anthony Asquith's drama - an adaptation of Terrence Rattigan's one-act play:

  • the scene of a heart-touching, "delightful" parting gift given by a English public school student named Taplow (Brian Smith) - a second-hand book of Robert Browning's translation of Agamemnon (hence the film's title) - to under-appreciated, chilly, and strict veteran Greek Classics schoolmaster Andrew "Crock" Crocker-Harris (Michael Redgrave) - his favorite play, and personally-inscribed (translated: "God from afar looks graciously upon a gentle master")! Crock was overcome with emotion for the thoughtful, completely-unexpected present and began crying, and then excused himself for his "little exhibition of weakness"
  • his cheating, unfaithful and embittered, young and vibrant wife Millie (Jean Kent), in a known affair with Crock's colleague - science teacher Frank Hunter, and Millie's attempt to downplay the goodwill gift as bribery
Crock's Confessional Farewell Speech
  • the scene of Crock's apologetic farewell epiphany speech to a British boarding school audience - a confessional ultimately speaking from his anguished and pained heart about his failures, after he began with a long-winded, poorly received start to his speech: ("You must excuse me. I had prepared a speech, but I find now that I have nothing to say. Or rather, I have three very small words, but they are most deeply felt. They are these: I am sorry. I am sorry because I have failed to give you what you had the right to demand of me as your teacher: sympathy, encouragement, and humanity. I'm sorry because I have deserved the nickname of Himmler. And because, by so doing, I have degraded the noblest calling that a man can follow - the care and molding of the young. I claim no excuses. When I came here, I-I knew what I had to do, and I have not done it. I have failed. And miserably failed. But I can only hope that you and the countless others who have gone before, will find it in your hearts to forgive me for having let you down. I shall not find it so easy to forgive myself. That is all. Goodbye") - after a long pause, there was thunderous applause from the seated audience

Gift of Book From a Student

Crock's Emotional Reaction to Gift


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