Although it has a modicum of charm and some modest assets, the musical version of Goodbye, Mr. Chips is for the most part a disappointment, and occasionally a trial. While the script is a letdown, the biggest problem with the project is the score. For the most part, Leslie Bricusse's music ranges from dull to deadly, "London is London" being the only real exception, and his lyrics only occasionally reach the level of mediocrity. An even bigger problem than the actual quality of the songs, however, is that they don't function properly: either they musicalize the wrong part of a scene or they don't achieve their intended goal. Things are not helped by Peter O'Toole's lack of voice, which is a problem in itself and also results in too many songs being given to Petula Clark's character, thereby destroying the balance between the parts. For her part, Clark is in good voice (a welcome fact under the circumstances) and acts her role acceptably, though hampered by the rather weak script. When not singing, O'Toole is a fine Chips, although occasionally too hard and heartless. Always an interesting actor, it's worth watching how he takes sub-par material and finds something worthwhile in it. O'Toole would have another bad experience with a musical with Man of La Mancha several years later, but Bricusse would turn in much better work with Scrooge and Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.
by Craig Butler review