Movie Mirrors Index

The Browning Version

(1951 b 90')

En: 6 Ed: 7

Terence Rattigan adapted his play about an unpopular teacher who knows his wife is having an affair with another teacher.

         At an English boys school headmaster Frobisher (Wilfred Hyde-White) announces that the teacher Andrew Crocker-Harris (Michael Redgrave) is leaving to go to another school. The new teacher Gilbert (Ronald Howard) sits in on Andrew’s classics class. Andrew tells his students to translate verses over again. Frank Hunter (Nigel Patrick) lets his science class go early, but the stuffy Andrew does not. He tells Taplow (Brian Smith) to come to make up an hour.

         Taplow talks with Frank about Andrew and mimics him as Millie Crocker-Harris (Jean Kent) comes in. She sends Taplow on an errand. Millie and Frank plan to be together in September. Andrew comes in and tells Frank he will be teaching backward students with less strain on his health. In the garden Frank kisses Millie while inside Taplow translates Agamemnon. Andrew reprimands him for adding words. Millie is jealous, and Frank defends himself.

         Andrew and Millie attend a cricket match. Frobisher tells Andrew he is their most brilliant scholar, but he will not get a pension. Millie is angry about the lost pension. In his classroom Andrew finds his verse translation of Agamemnon. Gilbert says that Andrew is called the “Himmler of the lower fifth.” Andrew says he got the boys to laugh at him, but now he realizes he is disliked. He wishes Gilbert good luck.

         At home Andrew assures Millie he will burn his papers. Taplow comes in and gives him Browning’s version of Agamemnon. Andrew asks for his medicine and cries. Frank comes in, and Andrew translates Taplow’s inscription in the book. Millie says that Taplow was imitating Andrew and implies he bought the book as a bribe. Frank tells Millie they are finished because she hurt Andrew. She slaps Frank and then pleads with him. Frank tells Andrew that he likes him. Andrew doubts it. Frank advises him to leave his wife. Andrew says he knows of their affair because his wife never lies to him.

         At a dinner they toast Andrew. Frank and Andrew are left alone, and Frank says he is ashamed and will not see Millie again. Andrew says he wronged Millie by marrying her and will not wrong her again by leaving her. Frank offers to help Andrew and arranges to meet him. Andrew tells Millie that he is not going with her, and he does not expect her to join him at his new post. They do not say goodbye to each other when she leaves.

         At the last school assembly Andrew speaks last. He says he is sorry he did not give them sympathy and encouragement. He says he failed and asks for forgiveness. The students applaud. In the final scene Taplow tells Andrew that his play is better than Browning’s version.

         A strict teacher knows he is not well liked and that he is not compatible with his younger wife; but he continues to persevere as honestly as he can and finds that at least one student appreciates him.

Copyright © 2007 by Sanderson Beck

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