Kipps (1941 film)

Kipps, also known as The Remarkable Mr. Kipps, is a British 1941 comedy-drama film adaptation of H. G. Wells's novel of the same title, directed by Carol Reed. Michael Redgrave stars as a draper's assistant who inherits a large fortune.[1]

Directed byCarol Reed
Produced byEdward Black
Written byH. G. Wells (novel)
Sidney Gilliat
Frank Launder (uncredited)
StarringMichael Redgrave
Diana Wynyard
Phyllis Calvert
CinematographyArthur Crabtree
Edited byR. E. Dearing
Distributed by20th Century Fox
Release date
  • 28 June 1941 (1941-06-28) (UK)
  • 24 May 1942 (1942-05-24) (USA)
Running time
111 minutes (UK)
82 minutes (USA)
CountryUnited Kingdom


The day before the fourteen-year-old Arthur "Artie" Kipps leaves to begin a seven-year apprenticeship in a draper's shop, he asks his friend's sister, Ann Pornick, to be his girl. She gladly agrees.

Kipps goes to work for Mr. Shalford (Lloyd Pearson). Years pass and Kipps grows up into an unremarkable young man. One day, he attends a free lecture on self-improvement presented by Chester Coote (Max Adrian) and decides to take a course. Coote, disdaining Kipps' lower class origins, steers the young man away from the literature class he wants to take to a woodworking class taught by Helen Walshingham (Diana Wynyard), a member of the local gentry. Kipps is soon smitten with his lovely teacher, but she is mindful of his social inferiority and ignores him.

One night, actor and playwright Chitterlow (Arthur Riscoe), riding a bicycle, collides with Kipps and tears his trousers. He takes Kipps back to his lodgings to repair his clothes. They get drunk together, while Chitterlow tells Kipps about his latest play, a comedy involving a beetle. By coincidence, one of Chitterlow's characters is also called Kipps, a name the writer got from a newspaper advertisement.

When Kipps shows up for work late, he is sacked for breaking one of Mr. Shalford's strict rules of conduct. Then, Chitterlow tells Kipps that the advertisement was about him. It turns out Kipps has inherited a large house and a fortune (£26,000) from a grandfather he had never met.

Chitterlow talks Kipps into investing £300 in his new play for a half share. At the bank, they run into Mr. Coote. Coote suggests Kipps employ new solicitor Ronnie Walshingham (Michael Wilding) to look after his fortune. When Kipps finds out the man is Helen's brother, he becomes interested.

Soon, Coote and the Walshinghams have manoeuvred the naive Kipps into an engagement with Helen (though no encouragement is required), but he cannot handle her attempts at his self-improvement. Then, Kipps meets Ann, now a parlour maid, on her day off. His feelings for her resurface and he kisses her. Later, when he and the Walshinghams attend a party, Kipps is mortified to find the front door opened by Ann. During the gathering, Ann overhears the news of his engagement to Helen and rushes away. Kipps finds her and tells her he loves her. They sneak away to get married.

The newlyweds clash over Kipps' insistence on maintaining his lofty social position. Then, Kipps receives a request to go to Ronnie Walshingham's office. Dreading a breach-of-promise suit, Kipps is surprised to meet Helen, rather than Ronnie. She has terrible news for him. Ronnie has lost all Kipps' money and fled. The good-natured man reassures Helen that he will not set the police on her brother.

Just when all seems blackest, Chitterlow shows up in the middle of the night and informs Kipps that his play is a great success, and Kipps has a half-share in the profits. It is enough for Kipps to set up a bookshop and live comfortably with Ann and their baby son.


Critical reception

Variety wrote "Any effort to give impetus or sharpness to this late Victorian yarn isn’t discernible. Sidney Gilliat’s screenplay [from H.G. Wells novel], while in excellent taste and character, remains sprawled writing. Impression sneaks through that Carol Reed wasn’t exactly comfortable in the director chore on this type of limp yarn...Michael Redgrave is believable as the hick; Phyllis Calvert as the peachy domestic; Diana Wynyard as the tony milady for whom the lower-case Kipps almost sells his heart";[2] while more recently, Allmovie noted "a delightful little film that doesn't attempt a great deal but succeeds admirably at what attempts it does make," concluding that "Kipps is ultimately too familiar to be a great film, but as "little" films go, it's remarkably satisfying."[3]


  1. "Kipps (1941)". BFI.
  2. Staff, Variety; Staff, Variety (1 January 1941). "Kipps".
  3. "Kipps (1941) - Carol Reed - Review". AllMovie.

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