Kipps (1941)

“The portals of society are open nowadays to anyone who has the means to make himself worthy of it.”

A working-class draper’s assistant (Michael Redgrave) is fired from his job after a night of carousing with an actor (Arthur Riscoe), then comes unexpectedly into a sizable inheritance. Kipps (Redgrave) tries to enhance his status in order to impress a woman (Diana Wynyard) he hopes to marry, but is simultaneously attracted to his childhood sweetheart (Phyllis Calvert), who is now working as a maid.


Carol Reed directed this adaptation of H.G. Wells’ novel about an eminently likable chap (Redgrave) — a “simple soul” — who longs for intellectual improvement and finds himself smitten by his aloof woodworking instructor (Wynyard). When a string of wild circumstances initiated by a drunken actor (Arthur Riscoe) lead Kipps into unexpected money, he’s swept into the fold of the very people he once idolized — including the owner of a “self-improvement” college (Max Adrian), Wynyard, and Wynyard’s barrister brother (Michael Wilding). Kipps’ story transpires in a rather predictable way from there: he misses his old chums, and finds he’s much more comfortable with his childhood sweetheart than with snooty Wynyard (who knew social class mattered so much?). Some tension arises around what decision Kipps will make between the two women, and there’s an additional narrative twist near the end — but this is otherwise a fairly straightforward tale of class aspirations and conflicts that will be of most interest to fans of the novel or Carol Reed.

Redeeming Qualities and Moments:

  • Arthur Crabtree’s cinematography

Must See?
No, though it’s worth a one-time look by Carol Reed fans.


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