Greatest Film Scenes
and Moments

Goodbye, Mr. Chips (1939)


Written by Tim Dirks

Title Screen
Movie Title/Year and Scene Descriptions

Goodbye, Mr. Chips (1939)

In Sam Wood's classic drama told mostly in flashback about a beloved schoolteacher at Brookfield - a British boys' boarding public school:

  • the opening sequence in the late 1920s, introducing eighty-three year old retired schoolmaster Mr. Charles "Chips" Chipping (Oscar-winning Robert Donat), who had been ordered to remain at home due to a cold; however, the doddering, tardy "Mr. Chips" - who still lived on the school grounds - ignored his doctor's orders and was glimpsed shambling along in full academic garb (with mortar board and walking stick) toward an assembly; he joined an equally-tardy young "stinker" (new student) named Dorset; when Chips noted: "I've taught thousands of boys, right back to 1870. But I gave it up, gave it up fifteen years ago," the young boy remarked: "I say, you must be terribly old, sir," and Chips replied: "Well, I'm certainly no chicken, no chicken"
  • the beginning of a lengthy flashback (as he dozed off and reflected: "A long time ago, yes. A long time. Things are different now"); he remembered the early days of his school-mastering, when he was a shy, withdrawn 24 year-old Latin master arriving by train at Brookfield - he soon became an easy target for the boisterous pranks of rowdy, lower school boys; he was the object of scorn by many in the school when he detained his class for an afternoon to punish them, thereby preventing one of the best athletes in the class from participating in the all-important, crucial cricket competition; one of the boys, Peter Colley (Terry Kilburn), blamed him for the school's loss: "We've lost the cup. It's not just us. It's the whole school. We know you don't care how the fellows feel. Perhaps you don't want to be liked. Perhaps you don't mind being hated"; now one of the most unpopular teachers in the school, Chips responded: "If I've lost your friendship, there's little left that I value"
Student Peter Colley Disgruntled by Cricket Match Loss
and Telling Off Young Teacher Mr. Chips
  • the scenes of Chips' walking trip within Austria, when he met spunky British suffragette Katherine Ellis (Greer Garson); later, alone and unseen on the balcony, he overheard Katherine's rhapsodies about him (the 'knight errant') and the "thrilling" memories of their day on the mountain: "I'm sorry for shy people. They must be awful lonely sometimes"
  • the scene of their goodbye at the train station when Katherine shook Chips' hand and kissed him goodbye as she uttered the film's title: "Goodbye, Mr. Chips"; and then, Chips breathlessly proposed marriage to her after their short, genteel and restrained courtship, as he ran alongside the departing train ("Here, you'll have to marry me now, you know") and she accepted with the adverb: ("Dreadfully!")
  • the scene after wife Katherine's death (in childbirth) when the dazed but persevering Chips went to his classroom and sat stoically while listening to a student recite a Latin lesson - he stared blankly ahead and heard the music of the Viennese waltzes that he danced to with Katherine
  • the sequence of Chips' blunt response when directly urged to retire in his later years (with a pension) by a new, more progressive and modernizing headmaster Dr. Ralston (Austin Trevor) - the white-haired Chips, an old-fashioned relic from Brookfield's past, refused and stood up for the old traditions: "Modern methods! Intensive training! Poppycock! Give a boy a sense of humor and a sense of proportion and he'll stand up to anything! I'm not going to retire. Do what you like about it"
  • inevitably, the scene of Chips' retirement ceremony - and his delivery of a farewell address: "If you come and see me in the years to come, as I hope you will, you may see me hesitate. And you'll say to yourself, 'oh the old boy doesn't remember me,' but I do remember you, as you are now. That's the point. In my mind, you remain boys, just as you are this evening"
  • the tearful deathbed scene and conclusion in which Chips countered the Headmaster's statement that he never had children: "I thought I heard you say 'twas a pity, a pity I never had children. But you're wrong...I have...thousands of them...thousands of them...and all boys!" - and then he closed his eyes while smiling, as the camera rose up when he passed on - he dreamily remembered many schoolboys filing past to repeat their names at call-over, while the music of the school song swelled in volume in the background; the final lad, the superimposed image of the last Peter Colley, appeared and spoke directly into the camera: "Goodbye, Mr. Chips...Goodbye..."
"I have...thousands of them...thousands of them...and all boys!"
Schoolboys Filing Past
"Goodbye, Mr. Chips..."

Opening: Entrance of Elderly Mr. Chips

Dozing Off

Flashback to Chips' Arrival at School

Meeting Katherine During Hiking Vacation

Chips Overhearing Katherine: "I'm sorry for shy people"

Train Station Goodbye and Marriage Proposal


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