Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBBB. United Kingdom, 1939. Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer British Studios. Screenplay by R.C. Sherriff, Claudine West, Eric Maschwitz, based on the novel by James Hilton. Cinematography by Freddie Young. Produced by Victor Saville. Production Design by Alfred Junge. Film Editing by Charles Frend. Academy Awards 1939. Cannes Film Festival 1939.
Robert Donat is fantastic in this superior adaptation of James Hilton’s novel about a shy boys’ school teacher and his relationship with his impressionable students over the years. His young pupils grow to love their unconventional professor so much that they react as excitedly as family would when he introduces them to his new bride (Greer Garson in the role that introduced her to America en masse), particularly since she’s the only person to successfully combat the kind man’s shyness and get him to open up to the rest of the world. Lovingly directed and oh so corny, the film will get tears in your eyes every time. Badly remade as a musical in 1969 with Peter O’Toole.