Lightning seldom strikes in the same place twice, and Hollywood’s record for remaking its classics is only slightly better. M-G-M’s reproduction of Goodbye, Mr. Chips as a big-budget musical [music and lyrics by Leslie Bricusse] with Peter O’Toole and Petula Clark is a sumptuous near-miss that trips on its own overproduction.
The film tells the love story of an English public school master for his work and wife. The scholarly, somewhat prissy and martinetish teacher who frets that his students don’t like him is a total departure from O’Toole’s previous roles. But there is a curious lack of warmth and humor, a middle-aged bachelor crotchetiness in the opening sequences.
But as he transitions through his troubled love affair and unspectacular career, O’Toole creates a man of strength and dignity, whose tendency to appear ridiculous at times is endearing.
1969: Nominations: Best Actor (Peter O’Toole), Adapted Music Score