Wednesday, 29 September 2010

Post In Honour Of Greer Garson

This is a post in honour of Greer Garson's birthday that would have been today. She would have been 106. Greer Garson is one of my favourite actresses, and I really admire her for her career. Being British myself, it makes me very impressed to see a young British woman whose education was not in acting, but French and 18th century literature at King's College London, become a huge star. She had planned to become a teacher, but started to work at a local advertising agency and to appear in local theatre productions, where she was discovered by a movie talent scout. She and Bette Davis hold the record for most Best Actress Academy Award nominations in a row: Bette Davis 1938-1942 and Greer Garson 1941-1945.
 Bette's Classic Movie Blog 2010 © 

"Starting out to make money is the greatest mistake in life. Do what you feel you have a flair for doing, and if you are good enough at it, the money will come"

Oh, good old Chips. I wish I had a teacher like Robert Donat in Goodbye Mr. Chips. He is so lovely and heartwarming in the role for which he won a best actor Oscar.
The plot is basically this. Mr. Chips (Robert Donat in heavy makeup at this point) at age 83, sits in his armchair and falls into a deep sleep. The rest of the film is a flashback over his 58 years as a teacher. Charles Edward Chipping is an inexperienced teacher, who goes to work in a posh English boy's boarding-school as a Latin teacher. He doesn't make a very good first impression on the boys, when he gives them a detention while they are supposed to be playing cricket, but he soon makes good friends with all of them after making puns and jokes to do with the subjects that they are learning. He becomes what could only be expressed in now-a-days language as a "legend". After going away on a holiday in Austria with good friend and German teacher Max Staefel, (Paul Henried, although I didn't know this until reading about the film on wikipedia) he comes back with the beautiful and intelligent, Kathy (Greer Garson) for a wife. They are loved and adored, and she makes tea for all of his students to make them feel at home. They become like a second set of parents for the lonely boarding-school boys.
When Kathy becomes pregnant, there is rejoicing and mad preparation for the baby everyone has been waiting for for years. But when Kathy and her unborn child die in labour, Chips (as he was nicknamed) is devastated. He, as a teacher declared while Chips was on his death-bed, "is the sort of man that always should have had children", and his moving reply was, "but I have had children! Hundreds and hundreds of them... All boys!"

A true three-hankie classic (as someone once described Dark Victory), Goodbye Mr. Chips is a wonderful film that will continue to be a favourite for as long as we have the means to view films. It has such great performances that even if the other elements of production were so so (which they weren't), the film would still work well.

If you want to go the whole way, and do a Greer Garson film marathon... I am not exactly your person to ask. I have seen 3 of her films, and they were all fantastic.
  1. Mrs. Miniver
  2. Pride And Prejudice
  3. Goodbye Mr. Chips
She also didn't make that many films, so it isn't easy to choose. Ones I have heard of but haven't seen (that are on my to see list) are:
  1. Madam Curie
  2. Julius Ceasar
  3. The Miniver Story (sequel to Mrs. Miniver)
  4. Little Women
~Bette

3 comments:

Libby said...

I was all excited for a moment, thinking I'd seen a Greer Garson movie. Turns out it's a different Little Women that I saw.
Goodbye Mr Chips sounds like a delightful film, and I would love to see it. Thanks to your blog, I'm writing an ever-expanding to-see list of films.
~Libby

quizshowbob said...

Goodbye Mr. Chips is a great movie. I love it. Today is also the 55th anniversary of the death of James Dean. 9/30/55.

Shannon said...

Bette, you're me, 20 years ago--I was also a kid obsessed with classic movies. Good to find a kindred spirit.

Other movies of hers that I've liked are Random Harvest, Valley of Decision, When Ladies Meet, Mrs. Carrington, and Blossoms in the Dust. You can find several of them on DVD on Amazon and iTunes even has some (in fact, I'm watching Blossoms in the Dust right now--first time I've seen it in probably 6-8 years and I still love it).

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~Bette