The Paper Chase

1973

Comedy / Drama

4
IMDb Rating 7.2

Synopsis


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113 min
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113 min
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Movie Reviews

Reviewed by ptb-8 9/10

Thirty six years ago (!) before multiplexes and without the bluntingeffect of Tarantino and Bigelow, regular effective and intelligentmovies like THE PAPER CHASE were made by film companies who co-existedin a gentleman's game called production and exhibition. Films like thiswere made as stand alone statements about life and love and education,and were shown in luxury cinemas that had furniture (lampshades, even!)in the foyers and well dressed, informed adult staff. Today, in thisclever new century we have an industry that has sawn off its owncreative head in order to film the blood spurt, and reduced movie-goingto all the elegance of a supermarket. Other comments here will tell youthe whole story, but as with this comment, each distill down to onething: THE PAPER CHASE is an excellent and interesting film made in ayear of truly exceptional memorable films. Sadly THE PAPER CHASE hasnot been seen on TV or in cinemas for three decades either, a calamityhopefully balanced by a DVD release so new generations can discoverwhat sensible life and times 1973 was....and how life had hope andsuccess within reach. Timothy Bottoms and Lindsay Wagner have neverreally gone on to anything better either. The late great John Housemanreinvented a career at aged 71 in this film and won an Oscar for hiswithering excellence. What a great script and performances, and adefining film in many ways. Students in film schools everywhere shouldstudy THE PAPER CHASE ...perhaps along with LOVE STORY and CARNALKNOWLEDGE two other films of the same period that fit the look andstyle and success of this film. I would love to sit in on a discussionby today's 20 year olds who having seen each of those three films canexplain their success.

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Reviewed by Lechuguilla 8/10

I shall recite the facts of the case, forthwith. An idealistic firstyear law student from the Midwest, named Hart (Timothy Bottoms), alongwith several other students find themselves unprepared for the academicrigors of Harvard Law School. Their insecurities bump up against thehigh standards of the renowned and intimidating Professor Kingsfield(John Houseman) who teaches a class in contract law. Further, Harthappens to become romantically involved with a woman named Susan(Lindsay Wagner) who initially fails to tell Hart that she isKingsfield&#39;s daughter. Complications ensue.<br><br>&quot;The Paper Chase&quot; is a rather slow moving drama laced with occasionalhumor. The dispassionate story is simple and straightforward, ifperhaps slightly contrived. It lacks emotional intensity, especially bytoday&#39;s standards. But that&#39;s somewhat to be expected for a settingthat is so cloistered and cerebral. Characters are stereotypical, butstill interesting.<br><br>And the &quot;heart&quot; of the story is the discourse between student andprofessor, especially as Hart relates, or fails to relate, to thedemanding Kingsfield, a man who never smiles. Kingsfield has aone-track mind. He lives, breathes, and sleeps contract law. He expectshis students to do the same. Always impersonal, he&#39;s like anintellectual robot. And half the fun of the film is listening to JohnHouseman&#39;s monologues, as he &quot;fills the room with (Kingsfield&#39;s)intelligence&quot;.<br><br>The film&#39;s color cinematography is fine; camera &quot;takes&quot; are very long.The film&#39;s visuals do look dated. Guys have long hair. And students use... typewriters -- yikes! Background music is intermittent and mostlyclassical. Overall acting is fine. Both Timothy Bottoms and LindsayWagner give credible performances. And, of course, John Houseman isterrific. I can&#39;t imagine anyone else in that role.<br><br>Low-key, and nostalgic in its view of education, &quot;The Paper Chase&quot; is agood film to watch for its high technical quality, for its theme of theindividual trying to measure up to society&#39;s expectations, and ofcourse for the wonderful performance of John Houseman.

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Reviewed by rcj5365 9/10

The year was 1973. The top ten films of that year were sure fire Oscarcontenders and some were one of the highest grossing pictures of thatyear. The Best Pictures of 1973 were &quot;American Graffiti&quot;,&quot;The Sting&quot;,&quot;The Exorcist&quot;,&quot;Save The Tiger&quot;,&quot;Cries and Whispers&quot;,&quot;Paper Moon&quot;,&quot;Cinderella Liberty&quot;,&quot;The Way We Were&quot;,&quot;Papillon&quot;,&quot;Serpico&quot;,&quot;The LastDetail&quot;,&quot;A Touch Of Class&quot;,not to mention the several movies thatshattered the box office receipts that were the best of the genre,theaction flick/marital arts adventure smash hit &quot;Enter The Dragon&quot;,andthe Southern crime drama &quot;Walking Tall&quot;,and the musical &quot;Jesus ChristSuperstar&quot;. The movie that took home the statues that year was &quot;TheSting&quot;,which won seven Oscars including The Best Picture of thatyear,1973.<br><br>And the one movie that defined a generation,even some who have neverseen it,it is still one breathtaking piece of cinematic work,and even30 years after its release,it still has that impact,and that motionpicture,&quot;The Paper Chase&quot; still holds that stance to this day. This wasa film that had some great performances,literate screenwriting,sensitive direction and handsome production. This was a tale ofa young law school student from Minnesota,in his first year of Law atHarvard,is confused by his professional calling versus his innerevolution as a human being,may seemed a bit timeless yet dated,butinstead goes into the vortex of his experiences as a student as he goesthrough the motions here,which gets the audience a series of sidewaysthough entertaining of the thespian declamations. James Bridges directshis own adaptation of the novel by Jay Osborn. Jr. But the performanceshere are sensational,with Timothy Bottoms,who is excellent as thepuzzled law student,Lindsay Wagner as the girl who plays not only hislove interest,but is the daughter of a tyrannical college professor.But the one who steals the show is John Houseman,who won the Oscar forBest Supporting Actor in 1973 gives a outstanding performance as ahard-nosed but urbane law professor. A man who looms over students likea quietly arrogant Goliath. The three players here constitute thepervading plot triangle that gives the picture its intensity-Housemanas the classroom dictator,Bottoms the uncertain supplicant,andWagner,who plays Houseman's daughter. This is a film that in someplaces,particularly on college campuses in shown as a midnight moviefor student and it is available on video for those who really want toknow what the experiences of being a law student is really like. A mustsee. It is to note,that Houseman later replayed his role of the collegeprofessor in a much-respected and Emmy nominated television seriesbased on &quot;The Paper Chase&quot;,which ran for six years on television.

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