|Tom Brown's Schooldays
|the novel by Thomas Hughes
|Brian Desmond Hurst
|C. M. Pennington-Richards
Tom Brown's Schooldays is a 1951 British drama film, directed by Gordon Parry, produced by Brian Desmond Hurst, and starring John Howard Davies, Robert Newton and James Hayter.It is based on the 1857 novel of the same name by Thomas Hughes.
Rugby School was used as a filming location.
Monthly Film Bulletin said "The opening scenes of Tom Brown’s Schooldays establish a pleasing atmosphere. Tom’s arrival at the school and the early scenes at Rugby (particularly the charmingly handled sing-song) give rise to hopes that the director might pull off this almost impossible subject. After this, however, the script fatally compromises: the boring scenes chronicling Doctor Arnold’s struggle to improve the school (his part is written as that of a lonely, single-minded reformer with none of the traditional severity), and the awkwardly tacked-on serminising at the end, spoil the robust, Boy’s Own Paper feeling of the opening without substituting a new one. This apart, the film's main failure lies in John Howard Davies’ lifeless playing of Tom. John Forrest overplays Flashman atrociously, which might not have mattered had the film stuck consistently to its boisterous, schoolboy story intentions. Robert Newton is, by contrast, surprisingly subdued, while John Charlesworth and Glyn Dearman play naturally and well among a large cast of self-conscious boys."
"Isn't quite as good as the 1940 Hollywood adaptation," thought Allmovie;whereas The New York Times found it "superior in every way to the one made in Hollywood some years back. The quaint customs have an English-cut, at least".
Variety applauded the acting of John Howard Davies, Robert Newton and "a standout performance by John Forrest as the sneering, bullying Flashman".
Time Out approved the "solidly carpentered third screen version of Thomas Hughes' famous Rugby story – atmospherically shot on location in the old school itself."
The Radio Times Guide to Films gave the film 3/5 stars, writing: "Shot on location at Rugby School, this is a reverential, if rather lacklustre, rendition of Thomas Hughes's famous portrait of public school life. Robert Newton gives a performance of almost saintly sincerity as the headmaster intent on ridding his school of class prejudice and bullying. John Howard Davies does a nice line in smiling through the tears as Tom Brown, but the film belongs squarely to John Forrest, who, as Flashman, is the epitome of vicious snobbery."
Leslie Halliwell said: "Unexciting remake featuring one surprisingly strong performnce."
In British Sound Films: The Studio Years 1928–1959 David Quinlan rated the film as "average", writing: "Faithful but uninspired version of a classic story: a popular success however."
Sir Harry Paget Flashman is a fictional character created by Thomas Hughes (1822–1896) in the semi-autobiographical Tom Brown's School Days (1857) and later developed by George MacDonald Fraser (1925–2008). Harry Flashman appears in a series of 12 of Fraser's books, collectively known as The Flashman Papers, with covers illustrated by Arthur Barbosa and Gino D’Achille. Flashman was played by Malcolm McDowell in the Richard Lester 1975 film Royal Flash.
Thomas Arnold was an English educator and historian. He was an early supporter of the Broad Church Anglican movement. As headmaster of Rugby School from 1828 to 1841, he introduced several reforms that were widely copied by other noted public schools. His reforms redefined standards of masculinity and achievement.
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