Thursday, 30 September 2010

Best Actor 1939: Robert Donat in Goobye, Mr. Chips

Robert Donat won his Oscar from his second and final Oscar nomination for portraying school teacher Arthur Chipping in Goodbye, Mr. Chips.

Goodbye, Mr. Chips is a very nice film about a school teacher, and his life with his students, his wife, and the outside world.

Robert Donat's win is never really maligned, but sometimes but it usually not described as the proper winner, probably by many who have not seen his performance. Donat's performance is one of wide scope since it starts at Chip's first day as a school teacher as a young man to his last days of school as a old head master. One big challenge of his performance is the aging of the character, which Donat handles masterfully. I never doubted him for a second, as he aged from younger years to a very old man. A big challenge for any actor since they can either under do the age, or over do it, but Donat nails Chipping at every single age without absolutely no fault. He makes the character's age also make his performance even more effective, he really shows a man as he goes through his life and it is rather amazing.

  He also shows how Chips grows a teacher equally well. He is fantastic as him in his first day, when he is the new school master, and has great troubles with the boys. His awkwardness, and inability is truly well shown by Donat. Later though as time goes on he commands the class room with far more power, and Donat shows Chips has grown greater confidence and control over his room and the students. It is truly a fantastic display of how the man grows in his career. As he becomes more and more attuned with the school, Donat perfectly shows how Chips simply becomes more and more naturalistic in his ways as a teacher and later as the head master.

Donat has another task of having Chips slowly grows as a person. He begins as a rather introverted man who tries to keep to himself, and only tries to seek friendship in incredibly small ways.
Donat though shows his growth as a person incredibly well when he meets his future wife Katherine (Greer Garson). I really like Donat's chemistry with Garson it is just right, since he still stays shy, but Donat allows just the right amount of life and love come from him that really works well. After they marry his wife also makes Chips a slightly more outgoing man so much that he actually makes a joke in his class. Donat never makes it so Chip completely becomes no longer shy, but he adds the right amount of new found liveliness that rings true.

Every single part of Donat's performance works incredibly well, and the scenes of him in the most dramatic scenes are no different. Chips must deal with many tragic events during his life, and Donat brilliantly handles these sequences because he never makes any big dramatic gestures. Instead he internalizes Chips anguish and sadness. Donat because he does this he keeps Chips as a consistent man, and also I found the way he handled the sequences to be truly effective since he used his facial expressions and eyes so perfectly. Overall Donat's performance really is simply great work, it is fantastic piece of acting, and when I watched his performance I really felt I saw a man going through his life which I believe shows the strength of his work here.


Fritz said...

I love this movie and Donat is fantastic! And Greer is so charming, she would have been a great contender in the supporting category.

Louis Morgan said...

Yes she was very good, and your right she should have been in the supporting category.

Anonymous said...

I'm shocked his performance is well liked. I would go for 3 1/2, as he didn't impress me as much I thought.