Mr. Chipping (Robert Donat) is on his way out as professor and headmaster at a proper British boys' school, and the aging man looks back on his life. Goodbye, Mr. Chips provides a comprehensive look at one teacher's life and love -- from the disciplining of his students to the chance meeting of the love of his life on a mountaintop. (Played by Greer Garson with about 20 minutes of screen time, I have no idea how her awkward debut here earned an Oscar nomination for Best Actress.)

Everybody loves Chipping to death, which is what makes this and its contemporaries (like Mr. Holland's Opus) such harmless works of cinema. Chipping's challenges are so meaningless that he all but waltzes through life. There's less conflict than in your typical animated Disney movie, and that makes watching Chips an often tedious experience. Even when asked to retire by a younger headmaster, he merely brushes it off like dust from his lapels. Sure, there's some teary eyes when he eulogizes a student that dies during WWII, but Chipping himself lives to a ripe old age with little more than a cold to keep him down.

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