The Paper Chase (1973)
The Paper Chase (1973)
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as James T. Hart
as Prof. Kingsfield
as Thomas Craig Anderso...
as Miss Farranti
as 1st Hotel Maid
as 2nd Hotel Maid
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Critic Reviews for The Paper Chase
The Paper Chase has some great performances, literate screenwriting, sensitive direction and handsome production.
Houseman is able to project subtleties of character even while appearing stiff and unrelenting; it's a performance of Academy Award quality, and resulted in an Oscar for Best Supporting Actor.
Audience Reviews for The Paper Chase
A Harvard law student dates his imperious professor's daughter.
I've thought about The Paper Chase a lot. One of my colleagues did his dissertation on educators in film, and his construct suggests that teachers are always portrayed as being exemplars of either "tough love" or "nurturing love." He contends that Kingsfield is an example of a "tough love" prof, but I argue that Kingsfield, in fact, defies his construct and is "no love." This is refreshing because I don't love my students; that means they won't make a movie about me.
We argued about this for the past couple days, but it's the only interesting aspect of the film. There is a romantic story here, but the lead may be the shittiest female character ever written in film. I have no idea why she sleeps with Hart; their meeting scene is the definition of banal. I have no idea why she gets back together with him. I have no idea why she hides her identity from him; the scene in which she explains herself makes no sense. I have no idea why she does anything. She seems to pop up whenever Hart needs someone to whine to or whenever the filmmakers remember that they're paying an actress. I don't see her as a real character. Instead, she's a flat character, and you shouldn't make "Romantic Lead A" a flat character; maybe "Romantic Leads B" can be, but not A.
There is also some truly banal connective tissue. There is one scene composed only of Hart getting unremarkable breakfast at an unremarkable cafeteria with an unremarkable look on his face, and this lasts for a remarkably long minute before he sits with another character and starts the story again.
Overall, there is no doubt John Houseman gives a fantastic performance as the imperious Kingsfield and the characterization of the professor is good fodder for debate, but everything about the film's story construction and the banality of the characters makes this film a chore to watch.
Great little film about being a first year law student at Harvard. Great Gordon Willis cinematography to boot!
A funny & very odd movie. This movie had a really odd ending.
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