Tom Brown’s Schooldays
Tom Brown’s Schooldays – 1951 | 101 mins | Drama | B&W
Directed by Gordon Parry, Tom Brown’s Schooldays is a faithful but uninspired adaptation of Thomas Hughes’ classic story of schoolboy camaraderie and good overcoming bad. This was the second film version of Hughes’ semiautobiographical novel, and shot on location at Rugby School.
Set in the 19th century classrooms, playing fields and dormitories of Rugby School for Boys, an institution where reform of the public school system is struggling to take a hold and obedience and respect for your betters is the most important lesson to be learnt. A quiet 11-year-old boy, Tom Brown (John Howard Davies), arrives for his first day at school, and soon strikes up a friendship with East (John Charlesworth), who has been asked to take care of him. After failing to carry out his command quickly enough, Tom and East fall foul of the upper-class school bully, Flashman (John Forrest). Once hostilities have been established the bullying begins in earnest; Tom is tossed in a blanket, is beaten by Flashman, and after refusing to hand over a promising gambling ticket – is roasted in front of a roaring fire.
Despite such tortures, the school headmaster Dr. Arnold (Robert Newton) continues striving with his programme of reforms despite the objections of schoolmaster Wilkes (Michael Hordern). Tom spends his end-of-term holiday at home learning the art of boxing with the intention of defending himself against Flashman in future. Once back at school, Tom is handed the task of caring for a new pupil; a frail orphan called Arthur (Glyn Dearman). With the guidance of Diggs, Tom and East finally turns the tables on Flashman by handing him a severe beating.
Despite being too young to race, the boys join in the school’s annual Hare and Hounds race, and en route encounter Flashman fighting with farmer’s son Ned Taylor by the riverside. Following a blow from Taylor, Flashman falls backwards into the water and is in danger of drowning until Tom and his friends risk their own lives to rescue him. The incident results in delicate Arthur nearly dying of fever, but after a long spell of anxiety he recovers. Flashman tries to claim the credit for rescuing Arthur from the river, and simultaneously blame the episode on Tom and East. But his lies are exposed by a confession from Ned Taylor, and Dr Arnold has no hesitation in expelling Flashman from the school.
Gordon Parry: Director
Frederick Pusey: Art Direction
Ray Sturgess: Cinematography
C.M Pennington-Richards: Cinematography
Kenneth Heeley-Ray: Editing
Richard Addinsell: Music Direction
Brian Desmond Hurst: Producer
Noel Langley: Script