The Browning Version

Synopsis: Andrew Crocker-Harris, a classics teacher at an English school, is afflicted with a heart ailment and an unfaithful wife. His interest in his pupils wanes as he looks towards his final days in employment.
Genre: Drama
Director(s): Anthony Asquith
Production: Criterion Collection
  Nominated for 2 BAFTA Film Awards. Another 7 wins & 1 nomination.
Rotten Tomatoes:
90 min

[ Bell Tolling ]

[ Organ ]

[ Tolling Ends ]

[ Ends ]

[ Man ]

And here, sir, is Bishop Walter's gatehouse...

part of the second foundation,

built in 1 35 1 oflocal limestone.

- Yes. Very interesting.

- [ Man Speaking, Indistinct ]

The chapel's through here, sir,

if you care to go in.

Isn't there a service on?

- Not a service, sir. Merely morning prayers.

- Oh.

[ Man Continues, Indistinct ]

Mr. Gilbert, a new master

for next term, looking round.

[ Man Continues ]

[ Man ]

May not fear the power of any adversaries...

through the might

ofJesus Christ, our Lord.


Did the Crock see me?

Don't think so.

[ Exhales ]

I have one or two

announcements to make...

regarding the program for tomorrow.

- [ Whispers ] The headmaster.

- [ No Audible Dialogue ]

Prizegiving will be at 9:50 a.m.

That is to say,

immediately after tomorrow's chapel.

The concert will therefore

take place in the evening.

This change from the usual procedure...

is to enable Mr. Fletcher...

whose imminent departure

from this school...

I know each of you will feel

as a personal loss --

to enable Mr. Fletcher

to reach London...

in time to play cricket

for England against Australia.

You will all of you, I know,

be conscious...

of the honor that this choice

has done to the school.

I have, most unfortunately...

another item

of sad news for you.

You will all, I know,

be most grieved...

that persistent ill health

has forced the resignation...

of Mr. Crocker-Harris.

- He is leaving us to take up a post at, uh--

- [ No Audible Dialogue ]

at another school, and he will,

I know, carry with him...

after so many years at this school...

your sad but most heartfelt

good wishes.

So, of course, will his wife...

who has endeared herself

so much to all of us.

During the hymn,

the usual end-of-term collection...

will be made on behalf

of the school mission.

Hymn number 577:

''Lord, Dismiss Us with Thy Blessing.''

[ Organ ]

Lord, dismiss us with thy blessing

Thanks for mercies past received

Pardon all, their faults confessing

Time that's lost may all retrieve

May thy children

May thy children

Ne'er again thy Spirit grieve

Down for the cricket?

No, I'm just having a look round.

I'm joining the staff next term.

- Oh, really? What class?

- The lower fifth, I believe.


I suppose I'm rather lucky to have got

so comparably high a class straight off.

My husband got it straight off, too,

only he stayed with it for 1 8 years.

- You just want me to blow myself up.

- Hello, Frank.

- Good morning.

- Oh, please do, sir.

Wants me to experiment and disintegrate

myself to make a Roman holiday.

Well, I'll think about it.

Go on. Get along.

Can you come for a drink

about 1 2:
00 this morning?

- I don't know. That's a bit difficult.

- You can manage a minute, surely.

Well, I'll try.

Ah, Mrs. Crocker-Harris.

I hope you'll forgive me...

if I compliment you upon the regularity

of your attendance at morning prayers.

Very good of you, Headmaster.

I always feel it makes a good start to the day.

But today of all days, when you've got so much

to get through -- most commendable.

By the way, how is your poor husband?

Bearing up, I hope?

- Yes, thank you. Bearing up.

- Mm-hmm.

A sad blow it is.

A sad blow.

What have you done with our new master?

I saw you sitting next to him in chapel.

- He's over there.

- So he is. Perhaps you'll forgive me.

Come along, Hunter.

You must meet him.

I'll try and make 1 2:00.

These are what we call

the West Cloisters.

Most of our classrooms

are in this part of the building.

- [ Laughter ]

- And this, unless my ears deceive me...

is the science upper fifth,

where Hunter manufactures...

the nauseous odors of his

perverted branch of learning.

How much more perverted, sir, than, say,

certain passages of the Greek anthology?

- Unworthy, Hunter.

- [ Chuckles ]

A good dose of the classics

might still save you scientists...

from destroying this pleasant

little planet of ours.

I'm sorry, sir.

I'll see you later, Gilbert.

[ Chattering ]

- Bad, that.

- What was that, sir?

- The noise in his classroom.

- Oh.

A good chap, Hunter, in many ways,

but no sense of discipline...

and, of course, like all scientists,

a trifle narrow-minded.

Now this will be your classroom,

Gilbert, the lower fifth.

Come in.

[ Chattering ]

- Mr. Crocker-Harris not here yet?

- No, sir. Six minutes to go yet, sir.

So prodigious is your predecessor's

sense of punctuality...

that the boys have been known

to set their watches by his comings and goings.

- Isn't that so, boys?

- [ All ] Yes, sir.

Well, Fortescue,

and how's your dear mother?

Fairly well, thank you, sir.

My name's Wilson, sir.

Quite, but your mother's well

just the same?

- Yes, sir.

- Splendid. [ Clears Throat ]

Now, boys, this is your new master,

Mr. Gilbert.

I trust that those of you who remain

in this class next term...

will be as well-behaved with him

as I know you've been with Mr. Crocker-Harris.

Well, now, you might like to sit in

during this period...

and watch your future pupils

in action, hmm?

- Yes --

- Crocker-Harris won't mind, I'm sure.

- If I see him, I'll warn him.

- Thank you, sir.

Now, boys, pay no attention

whatever to Mr. Gilbert.

He can't very well report your misdoings

to me till next term, remember.

Anyway, it'll be a change

from the Crock.

Yes, he doesn't look too bad.

[ Laughter ]

When I ignite the nitric oxide

and carbon disulfide...

you will see what we call

a graded explosion...

which is a flash that passes along this tube,

ending in a loud bang there.

Now stand back.

This should be pretty good.

[ Laughing ]

Well, it can't work every time.

Must be the damp in the atmosphere.

Sir, could it be the wrong proportion?

No, it certainly couldn't.

Who are you? I don't recognize you.

- Taplow, sir.

- You're not in my class, are you?

- No, sir. Lower fifth.

- Then what on earth are you doing here?

I'm going to be in your class next term, sir.

That is, if I get my promotion.

Well, go away.

This is this term, not next term.

Oh, it's all right, sir.

We don't start until 1 0:00.

Go away.

I'll not have my budding Einsteins perverted

by immature, as yet unpromoted classicists.

[ All Chuckling ]

Sorry, sir. It's only that

I wanted to see the experiment.

- Well, you've seen it now, haven't you?

- Not yet, sir.

Too bad. Out.

Yes, sir.

You know, sir, when I do that experiment,

I don't use quite the same proportions.

Oh, you don't.

Shall I tell you something, Taplow?

You know, I rather hope you don't get

your promotion from the lower fifth next term.

Incidentally, why don't you know yet

whether you've got it or not?

Oh, Mr. Crocker-Harris doesn't

tell us the results like the other masters.

- Why on earth not?

- Well, you know what he's like, sir.

There is a rule, I believe,

that promotions...

shall only be announced to the parents

by the headmaster in school report.

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Terence Rattigan

Sir Terence Mervyn Rattigan, CBE (10 June 1911 – 30 November 1977) was a British dramatist. He was one of England's most popular mid twentieth century dramatists. His plays are typically set in an upper-middle-class background. He wrote The Winslow Boy (1946), The Browning Version (1948), The Deep Blue Sea (1952) and Separate Tables (1954), among many others. A troubled homosexual, who saw himself as an outsider, his plays centred on issues of sexual frustration, failed relationships, and a world of repression and reticence. more…

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Submitted on August 05, 2018

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