Tuesday, 12 July 2011

Best Actor 1969: Peter O'Toole in Goodbye, Mr. Chips

Peter O'Toole received his fourth Oscar nomination for portraying Arthur Chipping in Goodbye, Mr. Chips

This version of Goodbye, Mr. Chips is a musical version of the inspirational school teacher. Although I must say I was surprised by many of the changes that went far beyond the simple adding of some terrible songs.

Peter O'Toole depiction of Mr. Chips is very different from the Oscar winning depiction of the character by Robert Donat in the 1939 original. O'Toole Chips is even far more prim and proper, and this seems to be caused by the fact that he really is a rather stiff fellow more than the original Chips who was more of that way do to his shyness. Another change in this version, that really surprised me, was the fact that Chips is genuinely disliked by many of students who find him too harsh of a teacher. I felt this was genuinely surprising, and again this is a very very different Chips than the one everyone seemed to love of the 1939 original.

O'Toole portrays Chips in a very no nonsense way for a great majority of the film. He is a man of his principals and his morals, and certainly will not change them for anyone no matter how rich an investor who does not like him may be. O'Toole how proper portrayal is well handled, with a little humor from just how proper he is which comes out from time to time, although not enough for me to really like this portrayal. Chips still marries a independent woman named Katherine, but this time she is a singer played by actual singer Petula Clark. Their relationship technically seems slightly more natural because they do not get married in 5 second like Chips and Katharine in the original, but at the same time the chemistry between the two actors is not nearly as charming.

O'Toole and Clark have some nice moment together that is true, particularly in his scene where he states his love for her in his very dignified way, but it never becomes all that special, which probably can at least partially given to the fact that Clark is not really all that much of an actress, and much of the relationship falls on O'Toole's shoulders. All Clark really has to do is sing a song for each part of the relationship. O'Toole never really does all that much in this part, nor is he required to do all that much. Chips in this version strangely stays about the same at the beginning as he is in the end. I suppose his relationship with his students is a little better, and he is a tad less proper but really there is not all the much of a change shown in O'Toole's performance.

This is a consistent performance by O'Toole that does have a certain charm to it, even if it is not that much of one. His performance though does shine quite well in his few moments that he is given to shine. One such example being his reaction to hearing some tragic news, his reaction of disbelief and sadness is well handled and moving enough. His best single moment though comes from his final long speech about his retirement. It has the right passion and ease in this speech to suggest Chips' long history with the students, as well as showing how much they all have meant to him. His speech is the best part of the film really since the film does a poor job of establishing Chips' relationship to his students, therefore leaving basically it all to O'Toole, which O'Toole is able to convey quite well.

This performance although having its moments of strength, and it is technically consistent, it never becomes anything that special in any aspect. He really does not age until the last scene of the film, Chip's whole purpose in life seems to mainly be his relationship with his wife in this version, and that relationship is only sort of charming at best. There just is nothing that stands out here, except I suppose you get to hear O'Toole singing, and I suppose his uninspired approach to each song fits the uninspired lyrics and music of each song. This is not a bad performance at all, it is always technically good, but just like the film it really left me wanting far more than it delivered.


RatedRStar said...

Pretty much what I expected, it isn't possible for O Toole to give a bad performance, I reckon you'll not like Burton and Wayne will get a 2.5 I reckon.

Anonymous said...

He's horrid here.

mrripley said...

I don't get ever the love for o'toole,i thought he was awful in nearly every1 of his nominated performances bar the lion in winter and lwarence of arabia,he just does not gel with me.

Anonymous said...

Have seen this several times over the years and like it more and more. I do think O'Toole and Clark have warm, onscreen chemistry. And there are some fine songs -- especially love the one that has Clark singing above the student's voices at the assembly. Solid acting throughout. Definitely recommended!