Tom Brown's School Days


Drama Family
86 min     7.7     1940     USA


When private tutor Thomas Arnold (Sir Cedric Hardwicke) becomes headmaster at Rugby, a boy's preparatory school in England, he puts into place a policy of strict punishment for unruliness and bulying. Arnold finds an ally in Tom Brown (Jimmy Lydon), a new student who is subjected to hazing and abuse by a group of older boys and is pressured by his friends to keep quiet about it. Fed up, he leads his fellow classmates in an underground rebellion against their tormentors. But certain unspoken rules still apply at the school and Brown loses his hero status when he is accussed of breaking the Rugby code of silence.


CinemaSerf wrote:
There is something almost vicarious about this depiction of the trials and tribulations of the young "Tom Brown" (Jimmy Lydon) as he struggles at the famous Rugby school. It's more of an evaluation of his impassioned headmaster "Thomas Arnold" (Sir Cedric Hardwicke in one of his more substantial roles) who, despite his reputation for rather unorthodox teaching, accepts this position determined to drag education kicking and screaming, if needs be, into a new century. Like it or not, "Brown" is the to be held up as exemplar for his ideals. The story addresses the issues around modernising learning, but also of integrity and decency (and, frequently, the lack of those virtues) amongst the boys as they grow into men. "Flashman" (Billy Halop) is particularly effective as the young man's tormentor and Robert Stevenson creates a story that offers us an opportunity to scrutinise the aspirations (and sacrifices) of both teacher and pupils alike. Freddie Bartholomew ("Ned") and Josephine Hutchinson ("Mrs. Arnold") add richness to, and diversion from, the intensity of the story and help present us with decent thought-provoking exposé of attitudes and loyalties that still resonate 80 years later...