The Browning Version (The Criterion Collection)
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Rattigan was a meticulous composer of the "well-made play," and Anthony Asquith, who directed 10 films from Rattigan scripts over a quarter-century, was a reliable craftsman who never tried to upstage his material. (Asquith's best film apart from Rattigan was the delicious rendition of Oscar Wilde's The Importance of Being Earnest he and Redgrave did the following year.) It's easy to protest that this is not a formula for exciting "cinema": every scene of The Browning Version could be (and had been) performed on stage. Yet this subtly shaded and finally very moving immersion in "human nature"--to use a phrase "the Crock" scorns at one point--makes a virtue of reticence. By the time it's over, you know it has all the cinema it needs. --Richard T. Jameson
- Audio commentary by film historian Bruce Eder
- New video interview with Mike Figgis, director of the 1994 remake
- Archival interview with Michael Redgrave from 1958
- A new essay by film critic Geoffrey Macnab
Top Customer Reviews
In the tragedy, Agamemnon is murdered by his wife, aided by her lover. In the film, Crocker-Harris is spiritually dead, partly from spousal "murder," although the slaughter has been reciprocal, and his wife, Millie, is in worse shape than he. In tragedies, the hero starts out happy and becomes miserable. In this film, full of the sadness of professional and domestic failure, Crocker-Harris moves away from misery, via understanding and heartfelt repentance, to the possibility of happiness.
The reversal owes much to the intervention of Taplow, one of Crocker-Harris' students, and of Frank Hunter, his colleague and Millie's lover. The film deftly introduces these "good Samaritans" in a lively dispute, in which they display the personal qualities that will make them helpful to Crocker-Harris. Both are spirited, bold, good-natured, intelligent and well-rounded.
An interesting question is why they come to the rescue of Crocker-Harris and not of his wife. Her coarse brutality toward Crocker-Harris is hard to forgive, but so is his refined humiliation of students. At the outset, two huge defeats, heart disease and forced resignation, invite our compassion for him.Read more ›
Crocker-Harris (Michael Redgrave) is a middle-aged teacher, pedantic, precise, not so much dead inside as numb. He has taught 18 years at the school as the lower fifth classics master. He was once a brilliant scholar and could see a wonderful career as a teacher. His wife, Millie (Jean Kent), has become a shrew. She had her ambitions, too, and they eroded in the face of the couple's incompatibility. Millie longs for passion, intensity and respect; Crocker-Harris can provide none. His view of love has been almost platonic. It is apparent their intimate life has been nonexistent for years. "I may have been a brilliant scholar," Crocker-Harris says at one point, "but I was woefully ignorant of the facts of life." In this mix of frustration and deadened emotion is Frank Hunter (Nigel Patrick), the charming, smart upper fifth science master, a colleague of Crocker-Harris, who is cuckolding him.
The story takes place over two days at the end of term. Crocker-Harris is having to retire because of ill health. He'll be moving to a much smaller school, earning very little money, and is resigned to further failure.Read more ›
There's more to it than that, of course. There's an evil and loathsome wife, Millie (Jean Kent,) for Crocker-Harris to disappoint and infuriate. There's a co-worker, played by Nigel Patrick, whose sincere offer of friendship occurs hard on the heels of a gross betrayal. There's a bright young lad, Taplow (Brian Smith,), who may be the `one in a million' student who cancels the quitclaim on failure. And of course there's Aeschylus, the Greek dramatist, whose Agamemnon, translated by Browning, tells the tragic tale of a king poisoned by his wife.
Okay, that's pretty elliptical, but I'm trying to not give anything away, even though I'm not sure the plot twists and resolutions are that terribly important here. THE BROWNING VERSION is driven by character rather than plot - it's the study of a man who began his career with great promise, a Mr. Chips in-waiting, who we meet at a withering juncture near the end of the path. When the movie joins him he's ending a phase, the vital phase, of his professional career, and his last few days are filled with culminating embarrassments and humiliations.
Ceding the material its due, and it's due a lot, THE BROWNING VERSION begins and ends for me with Redgrave's restrained performance. Crocker-Harris does not jump off the page as a terribly appealing character, and there's any number of ways an actor could botch it. Redgrave gets under the skin, though, and finds the universal in this distant and aloof character.
This being a Criterion release there are, of course, extras.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Plays good on my dvd combo player, hay its a dvd, one.day you play a dvd and its ho humm put it away and play it again and gee its enchantingPublished 9 months ago by Victor
I first saw the movie in 1951 or 2. I was in college, a literature major. I felt some affection for an older professor, Dr. R. Read morePublished 13 months ago by Robert E. Young
A wonderful film that I'm happy to have in my awesome collection of fabulous flicks.Published 14 months ago by Daniel
Michael Redgrave gives a wonderful performance. Heartfelt, thoughtful and deep.....I enjoyed this movie tremendously!Published 17 months ago by Kindle Customer
I liked this rendition of "The Browning Version." The acting was solid and the storyline was really good. Read morePublished 17 months ago by buyer
If you love "redemption" as a theme, you'll like this one.Published 18 months ago by Lavinia Pleydell
This was a brilliant tale of redemption. I was deeply moved by it. I loved Crocker Harris' struggle to become more human and more honest. Read morePublished 20 months ago by Steven Franssen
THE BROWNING VERSION is a beautifully wrought character study of an English public school (which Americans call private school) teacher experiencing life crisis in the mid-20th... Read morePublished 21 months ago by Josef K
another must see and must have. a quietly bold film that has the kind of outcome that is rare and satisfying. Redgrave is captivating.Published 23 months ago by E.G.
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