The Browning Version (1951) The Moment The Human Soul Is Split In Two!

The Browning Version (1951) poster

If you ever wondered what the breaking of a human soul looked like on film? then this is the perfect place to view such a devastating blow.

That moment when a scaving remark is delivered with such utter venom, resulting in a visual much similar to the work of scientists splitting the atom on the Manhattan Project. To go from a warm, emotional, heartbreaking scene with a sweet moment of clarity to an instant smash down with a demolition sized ball of destruction. It truly knocked me right of my feet.

The Browning Version (1951) Frank Hunter (Nigel Patrick)

Science teacher, Frank Hunter (Nigel Patrick) magnificently appalled and flabbergasted, stunned face, mirrored mine exactly. So sucker punched in the kisser, I had to pause the telly for a second to catch my breath.  Who could of dropped such a bone crunching blow?

The Browning Version (1951) Andrew Crocker-Harris (Michael Redgrave) teacher

This is the story of an elderly public school English master Andrew Crocker-Harris (Michael Redgrave), who after a brush with increasing ill health is pushed into retiring from his teaching post. Crocker-Harris isn’t one for fun, smiles or enjoyment whilst educating his young class of boys in the fundamentals of the Latin and Greek languages. A stickler for prompt timekeeping, silence and obedience. Still, with his wealth of knowledge and experience he is a competent teacher, just one that has lost his passion and fight other the years.

The Browning Version (1951) Andrew Crocker-Harris (Michael Redgrave) Headmaster (Wilfrid Hyde-White)The Browning Version (1951) Millie (Jean Kent) Frank Hunter (Nigel Patrick)

Old Crock not only has to put up with the arrival of his replacement and the realisation of losing his classroom, even knowing the pupils despise him. He also has to deal with the bumbling uncaring Headmaster (Wilfrid Hyde-White) and his controlling and probably cheating, younger wife Millie (Jean Kent).

The Browning Version (1951) Michael Redgrave Crocker Harris  Taplow Brian Smith

Could a young inspired pupil by the name of Taplow (Brian Smith) push through the emotional stubbornness of his teacher and shine some spirited life into this broken exhausted man. Or will Crocker-Harris live up to his nickname of “the Himmler of the lower 5th”.

The Browning Version (1951) lower class b boys school teacher

This film caught me off guard, I admit to have never heard of it or even having knowledge of the director Anthony Asquith. I’d spied the high reviews but went in with my usual non judgement, viewing attitude. Before I knew it, the film was wrapping up, realising, apart from that moment of pause mentioned above, I had been completely and utterly transfixed with all the performances in this stunning drama. A true emotional powerhouse of a movie. Very recommended indeed.

A few things I’ve learnt

  • The film is based on a successful 1948 play by screenwriter and playwright Terence Rattigan.
  • The Browning Version has numerous television plays and film adaptations. In 1985 Ian Holm, Judi Dench and Michael Kitchen took on the drama in a TV movie. With Director Mike Figgis tackling the story in 1994 with Albert Finney, Greta Scacchi and Matthew Modine.
  • If you fancy a different filming approach to British schooling life on film then check my post on the superb drama thriller starring David Hemmings called Unman, Wittering and Zigo (1971)

Thanks for popping on by Mikey’s hairy film blog page. Feel free to let me know if you’ve seen this one or one of the other versions.

11 thoughts on “The Browning Version (1951) The Moment The Human Soul Is Split In Two!

  1. This one tears at the heart. I always get horrified, disgusted and shocked by the scene where his wife shatters his pleasant moment. Jean Kent plays such a cold hearted woman in this, she was one of the best Brit bad girls.

    I like the Albert Finney remake quite a bit, but this version is the best adaptation I think. Michael Redgrave and Nigel Patrick are both excellent. Glad you enjoyed this one.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Like I say I had to pause it for a moment to get my breath back! Horrified and shocked indeed. She was brilliantly evil. Plus the new teacher dropping the Himmler bomb! Oh gosh. The speeches was a nice touch. Such a superb drama. Totally transfixed. I will keep mind of the Albert Finney version for a comparison one day. Thanks Maddy

      Liked by 1 person

      • She sure was. Oh man, how awkward was that new teacher when he said that? LOL. That was one of those moments where you’d want the earth to just swallow you up.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. I’ve long heard of this but never actually seen it. By the way, your opening line is a beauty…..If you ever wondered what the breaking of a human soul looked like on film? then this is the perfect place to view such a devastating blow……. got me thinking I need to see this one.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Haha well Mrs Wolf does say I have a tendency for the over dramatics lol. I may of over hammed it but it sure does give you stab in the ribs. Certainly a very recommended watch. A perfect little drama.

      PS.. I just watched your recommend of “Jubal”. perfect Saturday afternoon movie to nurse a hangover with. I salute you sir.
      Watch a great cast, ole EB was such a lovely fella in that and Steiger one dirty sly coyote. Top film.


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