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Tom Brown’s School Days (RKO 1940, Freddie Bartholomew, Cedric Hardwicke)



Tom Brown’s School Days was one of child actor Bartholomew’s finest performances. Tom Brown arrives at Rugby School and encounters the hazing of the school bullies in an institution where discipline has been nearly replaced by anarchy. While a stern new headmaster (Cedric Hardwicke) attempts to bring order, Tom and his friends stage their own revolution against the bullies, employing tricks, fisticuffs, and ingenious practical jokes such as nailing the ringleader’s furniture to the ceiling.

Thomas Hughes’ novel has received several less than satisfying screen renditions (including 1916, 1951 and in 1972 as a British television miniseries); this is the best of the lot.

Tom Brown’s School Days was reissued as Adventures at Rugby.

production details
USA | RKO | 86 minutes | 1940
Director: Robert Stevenson
Script: C. Graham Baker, Thomas Hughes, Walter Ferris, Frank Cavett, Gene Towne,

Cedric Hardwicke as Dr. Thomas Arnold
Harry Duff as Westcott
Walter Tetley as Student
Freddie Bartholomew as East
Jimmy Lydon as Tom Brown
Josephine Hutchinson as Mrs. Mary Arnold
Billy Halop as Flashman
Polly Moran as Sally Harowell
Hughie Green as Walker Brooke
Ernest Cossart as Squire Brown
Alec Craig as Old Thomas
Gale Storm as Effie
Antoinette Rotche as Tom Brown’s Nanny
Lionel Belmore as Tavern Keeper
Barlowe Borland as Grimsby aka Old Grimey
Rita Carlyle as Tadpole Martin
Richard Clucas as Boy
John ‘Uh huh’ Collum as Sidney
Calvin Ellison as Boy
Harold Entwistle as Dustman
Ian Fulton as Old Brodie
Forrester Harvey as Sam the Coachman
Cullen Johnson as Boy
Calvin Leslie as Boy
Peter Madden as Jacob
Paul Mathews as Lexton
Frank Mills as School Porter
Alexander Pollard as Butler
Charles Smith as Diggs
Tommy Thompson as Boy
Richard West as Boy
Leonard Willey as Farmer Jenkins