Paper Chase, The (Bilingual)
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Expecting only the basic pressures of attending Harvard Law School, a serious, hard-working student (Timothy Bottoms) finds himself the fearful adversary of the school's most imperious, sarcastic professor (John Houseman). Their relationship grows even more complex when the boy discovers that the girl he's in love with is the professor's daughter (Lindsay Wagner). Edward Herrmann and James Naughton co-star in this moving, intelligent drama.
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The plot involves a love affair between Hart, a student who idolizes Kingsfield, and Kingsfield's daughter. It has its funny moments, but is somewhat predictable. What elevates this movie is the psychological study of how the different students respond to their situation, some finding it within themselves to persevere while others fall by the wayside. The film also benefits from strong acting, particularly by John Houseman, who is the quintessential Professor Kingsfield. He is outstanding.
This is an excellent flick. It delivers a dramatic portrayal of an intense academic experience, while delivering some very funny moments along the way. Sort of like real life, sometimes. The TV series spawned by this movie was also quite good, and it's too bad it didn't last longer on its major network. Anyway, both college students and former college students will find a lot to relate to here. Those whose background isn't academic, though, will also find "The Paper Chase" quite entertaining. Highly recommended.
Ostensibly the film is about the pressures of first year students at Harvard Law School, but since most of us do not want to become lawyers, know any lawyers, have any dealings with lawyers or even watch television programs with lawyers, "The Paper Chase" ultimately succeeds as a film about wanting to learn and learning to think. At the heart of the film is James Hart (Timothy Bottoms), come from Minnesota to learn at the feet of the great Professor Charles Kingsfield. Despite some painful moments of confrontation in the classroom with his would be mentor-my favorite: "Mr. Hart, here is a dime. Take it, call your mother, and tell her there is serious doubt about you ever becoming a lawyer"-Hart finds he can play the game and play it well. Having given his mind over to Kingsfield, the question then becomes whether his heart and soul will follow as well. The other members of his study group (which includes Edward Herrmann and James Naughton), make different choices and take different paths in order to survive the year. By the end of the film Hart is more alone than he was at the beginning.
As Kingsfield, John Houseman is the powerful center of the film.Read more ›
Apart from that, the scenes of the workings of law school are pretty terrific. The characters of the study group are, for good and bad, very similar to people you actually find at law school. Particularly Bell. (By the way, did anyone notice that Hart's 3rd year advisor was Thirtysomething's Miles Drentell? He is exactly the type that would say, "Grades matter.") Yet, like lawyers themselves, they're not on the whole really awful people. Ford, the quintessential Harvard prepster, bails out James Naughton's character in class and even goes so far as to say that the subject is very difficult to understand. Hart himself is obviously very decent. And Kingsfield is meant to be feared, but moreover respected and admired.
So the romance is a bit unrealistic, but nothing approaching Ally McBeal silliness. That aside, it's a solid film worth seeing more than once.
Most recent customer reviews
I watched this after a law professor suggested to our class that we should see it, and although it was entertaining it didn't add a lot of value to my life.Published on Dec 16 2013 by Chikivivi
While I was very satisfied with the price of the item purchased, the wait time for it was abysmal. Amazon gives a range as to when to expect the item to arrive. Read morePublished on Feb. 21 2012 by BwayBaby
This film reminded me of my days at university in the late 60's and early 70's. I had seen the film when it came out in the 70's and thought is was an extraordinary film but seen... Read morePublished on March 17 2010 by Lise Pigeon
If you want to be inspired to go to Harvard Law School or Harvard Business School (they both use the same intimidating case study technique), this is the film to watch. Read morePublished on April 13 2004 by Gavin Wilson
This movie shows the brutal truth about law school more accurately than any other movie made to this date. Read morePublished on Nov. 16 2003
I guess the first thing I should mention is that this movie is thirty years old. Today's graduate and professional schools including law school are more diverse than depicted in... Read morePublished on Oct. 20 2003 by Richard Cunningham
It so rare to come across movies with an actual plot these days. If you are in the mood for a legal drama without the courtroom battles, this is for you. Read morePublished on July 3 2003 by D. de Gruchy