Thursday, 30 June 2016


Goodnight Mister Tom (1998) is a wonderful film for television based on a children's novel by English author Michelle Magorian first published in 1981. Starring the great John Thaw (Kavanagh QC, Inspector Morse), it is available on DVD in France since the end of last year thanks to Koba Films and L'atelier d'images.
At the beginning of World War II, children from London are evacuated to the countryside. Tom Oakley, a lonely and grumpy old man who lives in an English village, is forced to look after one of the evacuees: a 9-year old shy boy named William Beech. Tom finds out that William is beaten by his mother, an extremely religious woman. He provides him with new clothes and teaches him how to read and write when the village schoolteacher, Mrs Hartridge, learns the child's illiteracy.

Willie befriends a Jewish boy, Zacharias "Zach" Wrench, while Tom accepts to play organ at the church. Both are transformed by each other's presence. But soon after William's tenth birthday, Mrs Beech requests that her son returns to her in London as she claims to be ill. Left without news of the boy after one month, Oakley decides to travel to London. Produced by Carlton Television for ITV, Goodnight Mister Tom is a truly heartwarming adaptation of Michelle Magorian's classic written by Brian Finch (Coronation Street) and directed by Jack Gold (Escape from Sobibor, The Medusa Touch).

The 101-minute TV movie is blessed with an absolutely magnificent performance by John Thaw as Tom Oakley. Goodnight Mister Tom is another collaboration of the revered English actor with executive producer Ted Childs (Kavanagh QC, Inspector Morse, The Sweeney) (1) and producer Chris Burt (Inspector Morse). William Beech is played by Nick Robinson. Annabelle Apsion plays the quite frightening Mrs Beech. The music was composed by Carl Davis (Coming Home, Pride and Prejudice). Translated in 13 languages, the book was also adapted as a play and a musical.  

The DVD from Koba Films contains the original dialogue track (subtitled or not) and the French dubbing.

(1) The other executive producer of Goodnight Mister Tom is Children's TV producer Lewis Rudd.

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