Hilton’s romantic Goodbye, Mr. Chips describes Chip and Katherine’s courtship as being so brief that within a week of meeting, “they were head over heels in love” and married soon after. This is not what a filmmaker wants in a romantic tale. The consequence is that Sam Woods expanded the courtship, first with a sort-of-picnic in the Austrian Tyrol where Chips and Katherine share a lunch of ham sandwiches:
“Won’t you have a sandwich? I’ve got loads here,” Katherine asks, “This one is ham.”
Thank you. I ate mine early. I am rather hungry.”
Thirty years later, after being recreated by Leslie Bricusse and John Williams as a musical, Herbert Ross’ film Goodbye, Mr. Chips makes the lovers’ picnic a centerpiece for about 27 seconds. It’s a romantic bit of claptrap as Chips sings, “What a Lot of Flowers.” We never see Chips or Katherine eating or drinking. The champagne is untouched. But in a particularly tender gesture, Chips hands Katherine a violet, symbolic of fidelity and faithfulness. Ah, love! Ah, romance!
Featured Image: The movie poster for Goodbye, Mr. Chips, makes a 27-second picnic scene a centerpiece. Chips (Peter O’Toole) and Katherine (Petula Clark) share a conventional picnic on the grass. It may be the shortest film picnic, ever?
See James Hilton. Goodbye, Mr. Chips! London: Hodder & Stoughton, 1934. Illustrated by Ethel “Bip” Pares; Sam Wood. Goodbye, Mr. Chips! (1939). Screenplay by R.C. Sherriff, Claudine West, and Eric Maschwitz is based on Hilton’s novel (1934); Herbert Ross. Goodbye Mr. Chips (1969). Written by Terrence Rattigan based on Hilton’s novel. Music by Leslie Bricusse and John Williams; Gareth Davies (1984). Screenplay by Alexander Baron and James Hilton based on Hilton’s novel. Two BBC productions of Goodbye, Mr. Chips, 1984 with a picnic and (1984) and (2002) without.