Andrew Crocker-Harris (Michael Redgrave), a classics teacher at an English school, is afflicted with a heart ailment and an unfaithful wife (Jean Kent). His interest in his pupils wanes as h... Read allAndrew Crocker-Harris (Michael Redgrave), a classics teacher at an English school, is afflicted with a heart ailment and an unfaithful wife (Jean Kent). His interest in his pupils wanes as he looks towards his final days in employment.Andrew Crocker-Harris (Michael Redgrave), a classics teacher at an English school, is afflicted with a heart ailment and an unfaithful wife (Jean Kent). His interest in his pupils wanes as he looks towards his final days in employment.
Andrew Crocker-Harris (Michael Redgrave) is a classics teacher at an English boys school. After 18 years of teaching there, today is his last day before moving on to a position at another school. The students speculate on why he is leaving, but don't much care since despite being academically brilliant, he is universally despised as being strict, stern and humorless. They have nicknamed him "The Crock." Even the school administrators treat him poorly regardless of his long tenure. Millie Crocker-Harris (Jean Kent), his wife, is quite a bit different than her husband: she's younger and vivacious. She no longer loves her husband but rather loves Frank Hunter (Nigel Patrick), another teacher, who despite having an affair with him, knows that he is not in love with her. On this last day, one student named Taplow (Brian Smith), who doesn't hate Mr. Crocker-Harris but feels sorry for him, provides him with a small going-away gift. The gift brings about a series of actions which make Mr. Crocker-Harris reflect on his past, contemplate his future, and evaluate how he is going to finish his tenure at the school. —Huggo
Extraordinary performance by Michael Redgrave in a quietly devastating film
A filmed play (by Terence Rattigan), for sure, but this is the kind of play that's just so excellent the film never comes close to suffering from staginess. It plays kind of like the flipside of Goodbye, Mr. Chips. Michael Redgrave stars as a crotchety old Classics teacher, Andrew Crocker-Harris, in a boys' school. It is his last day before retirement. To the students, he is something of a monster. They refer to him as "the Croc". They know he is retiring because of heart troubles, and it amuses them to think the man has a heart at all. Of course, he does, and the film peels back his layers until it is found, crushed and bleeding on the floor. He is married to a much younger woman (Jean Kent), and the love they had once has turned into bitter resentment on both sides. Kent has been cheating on Redgrave with the science teacher, Nigel Patrick. Kent has never lied to Redgrave about the affair, preferring to taunt him with his sexual worthlessness. The film is a very introspective look at one man's failure in life. It's about as well written a character study as has ever been made. Redgrave's performance is simply off-the-charts. I have no qualms about calling it one of the all-time greats of the medium. I think the film makes one major miscalculation - the vigorous applause after Crocker-Harris' departing speech. It makes dramatic sense, I guess, but it doesn't make any logical sense. Otherwise, this would be a masterpiece.
- Dec 13, 2009
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