Tom Brown's Schooldays (1951 film)

Last updated

Tom Brown's Schooldays
Tom Brown's Schooldays (1951 film).jpg
Directed by Gordon Parry
Screenplay by Noel Langley
Based onthe novel by Thomas Hughes
Produced by Brian Desmond Hurst
Cinematography C. M. Pennington-Richards
Edited byKenneth Heeley-Ray
Music by Richard Addinsell
Talisman Productions
Distributed by
Release dates
  • 17 April 1951 (1951-04-17)(UK)
  • 2 November 1951 (1951-11-02)(US)
Running time
93 minutes
CountryUnited Kingdom

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. [1] It is based on the 1857 novel of the same name by Thomas Hughes. [2]




Rugby School was used as a filming location. [3]

Critical reception

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." [4]

"Isn't quite as good as the 1940 Hollywood adaptation," thought Allmovie; [2] 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". [5]

Variety applauded the acting of John Howard Davies, Robert Newton and "a standout performance by John Forrest as the sneering, bullying Flashman". [3]

Time Out approved the "solidly carpentered third screen version of Thomas Hughes' famous Rugby story – atmospherically shot on location in the old school itself." [6]

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." [7]

Leslie Halliwell said: "Unexciting remake featuring one surprisingly strong performnce." [8]

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." [9]

Related Research Articles

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Harry Flashman</span> Fictional character

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.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Thomas Arnold</span> English educator and historian (1795–1842)

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.

<i>Tom Browns School Days</i> Novel by Thomas Hughes

Tom Brown's School Days is a novel by Thomas Hughes, published in 1857. The story is set in the 1830s at Rugby School, an English public school. Hughes attended Rugby School from 1834 to 1842.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Robert Newton</span> English actor (1905–1956)

Robert Guy Newton was an English actor. Along with Errol Flynn, Newton was one of the more popular actors among the male juvenile audience of the 1940s and early 1950s, especially with British boys. Known for his hard-living life, he was cited as a role model by the actor Oliver Reed and the Who's drummer Keith Moon.

Tom Brown is a fictional character created by author Thomas Hughes in his work Tom Brown's School Days (1857) which is set at a real English public school—Rugby School for Boys—in the 1830s when Hughes himself had been a pupil there. Tom Brown is based on the author's brother, George Hughes, and George Arthur is based on Arthur Penrhyn Stanley.

<i>Flashman</i> (novel) 1969 novel by George MacDonald Fraser

Flashman is a 1969 novel by George MacDonald Fraser. It is the first of the Flashman novels.

<i>Flashman in the Great Game</i>

Flashman in the Great Game is a 1975 novel by George MacDonald Fraser. It is the fifth of the Flashman novels.

Harry "Scud" East is a fictional character in the book Tom Brown's School Days. He is perhaps the closest friend of Tom Brown. His nickname is Scud because he is so quick on his feet. In the book he is referred to as East.

<i>Tom Browns Schooldays</i> (2005 film) 2005 UK drama television film

Tom Brown's Schooldays is a 2005 British television film directed by Dave Moore and starring Alex Pettyfer and Stephen Fry. It is an adaptation of the Thomas Hughes 1857 novel of the same name. It aired on ITV on 1 January 2005 and was released on DVD 9 days later.

Tom Brown's Schooldays is a 1971 television serial adaptation of the 1857 Thomas Hughes novel Tom Brown's Schooldays. Consisting of five one hour long episodes, the series was directed by Gareth Davies and used a screenplay by Anthony Steven.

<i>Tom Browns School Days</i> (1940 film) 1940 film by Robert Stevenson

Tom Brown's School Days is a 1940 coming-of-age drama film about a teenage boy's experiences at Rugby School, Warwickshire in the early 19th century under the reforming headmastership of Thomas Arnold. It stars Sir Cedric Hardwicke, Freddie Bartholomew and Jimmy Lydon in the title role. The film was based on the 1857 novel, Tom Brown's School Days by Thomas Hughes.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">1931–32 South Africa rugby union tour of Britain and Ireland</span>

The 1931–32 South Africa tour of Britain and Ireland was a collection of friendly rugby union games undertaken by the South Africa national team against the four British Home Nation teams. The tour also took in several matches against British and Irish club, county and invitational teams. This was the fourth South Africa tour and the third tour of the Northern Hemisphere.

<i>Your Witness</i> (film) 1950 British film

Your Witness is a 1950 British drama film directed by and starring Robert Montgomery, Leslie Banks, Felix Aylmer and Andrew Cruickshank. It was released in the U.S. as Eye Witness.

<i>Waterfront</i> (1950 film) 1950 British film by Michael Anderson and Peter Ustinov

Waterfront is a 1950 British black and white drama film directed by Michael Anderson and starring Robert Newton, Kathleen Harrison and Avis Scott. It is based on the 1934 novel of the same name by John Brophy.

<i>Mr. Denning Drives North</i> 1951 film by Anthony Kimmins

Mr. Denning Drives North is a 1951 British mystery film directed by Anthony Kimmins and starring John Mills, Phyllis Calvert and Sam Wanamaker. Alec Coppel wrote the script, adapted from his own 1950 novel of the same title. An aircraft manufacturer accidentally kills his daughter's boyfriend and tries to dispose of the body.

<i>The Bawdy Adventures of Tom Jones</i> 1976 film by Cliff Owen

The Bawdy Adventures of Tom Jones is a 1976 British comedy film directed by Cliff Owen and starring Nicky Henson, Trevor Howard and Terry-Thomas. It is an adaptation of the 1749 novel Tom Jones by Henry Fielding, which follows the main character in a new series of misadventures.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Cambridge University R.U.F.C.</span> English rugby union club, based in Cambridge

The Cambridge University Rugby Union Football Club, sometimes abbreviated "CURUFC", is the rugby union club of the University of Cambridge. The team plays Oxford University RFC in the annual Varsity Match at Twickenham Stadium every December.

Tom Brown's Schooldays is a 1916 British silent drama film directed by Rex Wilson and starring Joyce Templeton, Jack Coleman and Evelyn Boucher. It is an adaptation of the 1857 novel Tom Brown's School Days by Thomas Hughes. It is set at Rugby School in the 1830s where Tom Brown encounters the villainous bully Flashman. It was made at Catford Studios.

Glyn is a Welsh name.

John Forrest was an American-born British actor, artist and stage magician probably best remembered today for playing the young Herbert Pocket in the film Great Expectations (1946), directed by David Lean.


  1. "Tom Brown's Schooldays". British Film Institute Collections Search. Retrieved 19 November 2023.
  2. 1 2 "Tom Brown's School Days (1951) - Gordon Parry - Synopsis, Characteristics, Moods, Themes and Related - AllMovie".
  3. 1 2 Variety Staff (1 January 1951). "Review: 'Tom Brown's Schooldays'".
  4. "Tom Brown's Schooldays". Monthly Film Bulletin . 18 (204): 260. 1951 via ProQuest.
  5. Crowther, Bosley (8 January 1952). "THE SCREEN IN REVIEW; British Version of 'Tom Brown's School Days' Has Premiere at Park Avenue Theatre" via
  6. "Tom Brown's Schooldays".
  7. Radio Times Guide to Films (18th ed.). London: Immediate Media Company. 2017. p. 946. ISBN   9780992936440.
  8. Halliwell, Leslie (1989). Halliwell's Film Guide (7th ed.). London: Paladin. p. 1038. ISBN   0586088946.
  9. Quinlan, David (1984). British Sound Films: The Studio Years 1928–1959. London: B.T. Batsford Ltd. p. 390. ISBN   0-7134-1874-5.