BROWNING VERSION, THE (1951): DVD
Stuffy English private school classics master Andrew Crocker-Harris (Michael Redgrave) is preparing to retire early due to ill-health. Considered a supercilious bully by his students and a stuffy buffoon by his colleagues, the Crock, as he is known, or worse, has distanced himself from all human emotion, due, in part, to his wife, Millie (Jean Kent) having an affair with one of the younger - more popular and lenient - masters, Frank Hunter (Nigel Patrick). However, when a student, Taplow (Brian Smith), thanks him with a gift of Browning's translation of Agamemnon, the Crock's feelings are reignited and he confronts his utter failures as a teacher, a husband, and a man.
Review by Andrew L. Urban:
Generally described as a study of repression and redemption, The Browning Version is in many ways an introduction to a particularly English personality trait: the emotional dry stick. Michael Redgrave is as dry as old dust as he creates a character of greater complexity than appearances suggest. The depth of his self awareness is revealed late in the film, when he begins to admit to himself and even to others, what a fool he has been. What a fool and what failure.
It's a remarkable piece of writing by Terence Rattigan, the great English playwright, and great direction by Anthony Asquith to drag us through such an arid landscape and keep us interested, involved and finally moved. It's a character study - and a study in failed marriage. Jean Kent is excellent as the dissatisfied wife who latches onto science teacher Frank Hunter (Nigel Patrick) in an ever more desperate lunge for love - or at least a show of it.
Young Brian Smith is also outstanding as the student whose sincere affection for the old Crock, Andrew Crocker Harris, plays such a crucial role in unlocking the older man's self. Asquith keeps the focus tight and the characters silhouetted against the setting of a school where tradition, learning and not much visible emotion are the order of the day.
Published November 6, 2008
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BROWNING VERSION, THE (1951): DVD (PG)
CAST: Michael Redgrave, Jean Kent, Nigel Patrick, Wilfrid Hyde-White, Brian Smith, Bill Travers, Ronald Howard, Paul Medland, Ivan Samson, Josephine Middleton, Peter Jones, Sarah Lawson
PRODUCER: Teddy Baird
DIRECTOR: Anthony Asquith
SCRIPT: Terence Rattigan (play by Rattigan)
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Desmond Dickinson
EDITOR: John D. Guthride
PRODUCTION DESIGN: Carmen Dillon
RUNNING TIME: 87 minutes
PRESENTATION: 4:3 (original); DD 2.0 mono; B&W
SPECIAL FEATURES: Directors Suite: audio commentary by Dr Brian McFarlane (Monash University); audio interview with Jean Kent (recorded by McFarlane, 1997); essay by Michael Fleming (Melbourne University); [English subtitles]
DVD DISTRIBUTOR: Madman
DVD RELEASE: October 8, 2008