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The Browning Version (1951 film)

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Title: The Browning Version (1951 film)  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: 1951 Cannes Film Festival, Uncensored (film), Terence Rattigan, Nigel Patrick, Harlequinade (Rattigan)
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

The Browning Version (1951 film)

The Browning Version
Redgrave on the cover of
The Criterion Collection DVD release of The Browning Version
Directed by Anthony Asquith
Produced by Teddy Baird
Earl St. John
Written by Terence Rattigan
Starring Michael Redgrave
Jean Kent
Nigel Patrick
Music by Arnold Bax
Kenneth Essex (both uncredited stock music)
Cinematography Desmond Dickinson
Edited by John D. Guthridge
Distributed by General Film Distr. (UK)
Universal Pictures (USA)
Release dates 1951
Running time 90 minutes
Country United Kingdom
Language English

The Browning Version is a 1951 British film based on the 1948 play of the same name by Terence Rattigan. It was directed by Anthony Asquith and starred Michael Redgrave.


Andrew Crocker-Harris is an aging Classics master at an English public school, and is forced into retirement by his increasing ill health. The film, in common with the original stage play, follows the schoolmaster's final few days in his post, as he comes to terms with his sense of failure as a teacher, a sense of weakness exacerbated by his wife's infidelity and the realization that he is despised by both pupils and staff of the school.

The emotional turning-point for the cold Crocker-Harris is his pupil Taplow's unexpected parting gift, Robert Browning's translation of the Agamemnon, which he has inscribed with the Greek phrase that translates as "God from afar looks graciously upon a gentle master."

Differences between play and film

Rattigan extends the screenplay far from his own one-act play, which ends on Crocker-Harris's tearful reaction to Taplow's gift. Therefore, the play ends well before Crocker-Harris's farewell speech to the school; the film shows the speech, in which he discards his notes and admits his failings, to be received with warm applause and cheers by the boys. The film ends with a conversation between Crocker-Harris and Taplow, and the suggestion that Crocker-Harris will complete his translation of the Agamemnon.



The film was shot at Pinewood Studios. The school exteriors were filmed on location at the Sherborne School in Sherborne, Dorset.

The Greek text that appears on the blackboard in Crocker-Harris's classroom is from the Agamemnon. Apparently a description of Menelaus's despair after his abandonment by Helen, the lines were translated by Robert Browning thus:

"And, through desire of one across the main,
A ghost will seem within the house to reign.
And hateful to the husband is the grace
Of well-shaped statues: from—in place of eyes
Those blanks—all Aphrodite dies."

Notably, the film's director, screenwriter, and star — Asquith, Rattigan, and Redgrave, respectively — were all closeted .



See also



  1. ^ a b "Festival de Cannes: The Browning Version". Retrieved 2009-01-11. 
  2. ^ "1st Berlin International Film Festival: Prize Winners". Retrieved 2009-12-21. 


  • Vermilye, Jerry (1978), The Great British Films, Citadel Press, pp 150–152, ISBN 0-8065-0661-X.

External links

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