Mr Perrin and Mr Traill – One of My Very Favourite Films


My own favourite screen performance from Marius Goring was when he played the disillusioned and frustrated schoolmaster Mr Perrin, in Lawrence Huntington’s Mr Perrin and Mr Traill (1948).

 This film was made at Denham Film Studios and has featured on this Blog before.”It was a change,” said Marius Goring, “because most of the time I was playing Nazi officers when I wasn’t working for Michael Powell.”



Mr. Perrin and Mr. Traill is set in a  boy’s public school somewhere on the coast although I always imagine that it is on the North Devon Coast – not sure why I think that – it could be from the book I am not sure.


This is a great story that holds you to it while the story unravels. The film is quited dated now but in a way that makes it all the more interesting.


The main part is that of Marius Goring as Mr. Perrin who plays a teacher who seems to be very much a loner and ill at ease socially to such an extent that his feeble unsuccessful attempts to woo Greta Gynt who is won over by new teacher David Traill (David Farrar) plus the bullying he takes from the Headmaster Raymond Huntley takes him over the edge. We do not initially take to Mr Perrin but as the film unfolds he comes over as very much a victim of his time, his shyness and the overall situation at the public school where he teaches and has taught for 21 years. Some of the scenes are very short and punchy but the film moves along to its final tragic conclusion.


We instinctively know something is going to happen but it is very difficult to second guess the outcome.


There is an interesting article on the internet from the Old Monrovians School from a pupil who went on an organised visit to Denham while this film was being made. He describes the sets and also having a talk with Edward Chapman and also a ‘very disinterested David Farrar’ who apparently posed for a photograph and went back to his dressing room and was not seen again that day.


Not often we hear of someone who had been to Denham so it is good to get such an insight


The  casting is headed by  Marius Goring and David Farrar, who were two star actors probably best known for their work in Powell & Pressburger films.

The irony of Mr. Perrin and Mr. Traill is that Marius Goring (b. 1912) plays the older man and  David Farrar (b. 1908) plays the younger.

However Mr Traill may well have been younger than we assume in the story – maybe early 40 s – but still living with his Mother at home – and on the verge of – but never getting on with – asking Miss  Lester to marry him.  I loved the way that Marius Goring portrayed Mr Perrin – he brought a character to life and showed us his nervousness and lack of confidence along with his  sense of decency culminating with his final act of immense bravery and self sacrifice.

In may ways David  Farrar had the easier role – he has to be the reasonably affable and friendly man, but prepared to stand up for himself. This simple presentation doesn’t stop all the other masters bar one (played by Edward Chapman) from seeing him as uppity, boorish etc. because he poses a threat to the status quo.

Marius Goring – a few years later –  had a small but important role as a musician fatally obsessed with Ava Gardner in Pandora and the Flying Dutchman (1951), and a rare romantic leading role as a Nazi officer in love with Maria Schell in So Little Time (1952). “A touching little film,” said Goring, “my favourite apart from the Powell films. It was too soon after the war and people thought every German was a horror . . . it’s timing was wrong.”

Marius Goring and Maria Schell in 'So Little Time'


ABOVE – Marius Goring and Maria Schell in ‘So Little Time’

Marius Goring was often assumed to be foreign, but actually he was born in Newport, Isle of Wight, in 1912. His father was a doctor and criminologist who died the 1918 flu epidemic, when Marius was six; his mother, the former Katie MacDonald, was a pianist who had studied with Clara Schumann. Educated at Cambridge and at the universities of Frankfurt, Munich, Vienna and Paris


His prime love remained the stage. “I can’t say I think much of my later films . . . I never envisaged myself as a film actor, preferring the theatre.” Later stage successes included a season at Stratford-on Avon in 1953, A Penny for a Song (1962), The Bells (1968), Anthony Schaffer’s Sleuth (1970-73) and Shaw’s The Applecart (1986).


Television also brought the actor considerable acclaim – in 1955-56 he was Sir Percy Blakeney in a 39-episode series The Adventures of the Scarlet Pimpernel and he starred in a popular series about a forensic scientist, The Expert (1968- 69, the first BBC2 series to be filmed in colour), which was brought back for further seasons in 1971 and 1976.

Marius Goring as The Expert 1968


He was also featured in Edward and Mrs Simpson (1978) and The Old Men at the Zoo (1983).



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