The Paper Chase (1973)

The Paper Chase

TOMATOMETER

AUDIENCE SCORE

Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.


Movie Info

This filmization of John Jay Osborn Jr.'s novel Paper Chase ended up one of the surprise hits of the 1973-74 movie season. Timothy Bottoms stars as the Minnesotan Hart, a brilliant but naive first-year student at the Harvard Law School. Like most of his fellow aspiring attorneys, Hart is in fearful awe of his demanding, ego-deflating instructor, Professor Kingsfield (John Houseman). He is not so much intimidated by Kingsfield, however, as to resist falling in love with the professor's pretty … More

Rating: PG
Genre: Drama, Classics
Directed By:
Written By: James Bridges
In Theaters:
On DVD: Jun 2, 2003
Runtime:
20th Century Fox

Cast


as James T. Hart

as Prof. Kingsfield

as Thomas Craig Anderso...

as O'Connor

as Asheley

as Asheley

as Miss Farranti

as 1st Hotel Maid

as 2nd Hotel Maid
Show More Cast

News & Interviews for The Paper Chase

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Critic Reviews for The Paper Chase

All Critics (26) | Top Critics (5)

The Paper Chase has some great performances, literate screenwriting, sensitive direction and handsome production.

Full Review… | July 24, 2008
Variety
Top Critic

A muddled and slick 'youth' film.

Full Review… | February 9, 2006
Time Out
Top Critic

By the end it has melted into a blob of clichés.

Full Review… | May 9, 2005
New York Times
Top Critic

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.

Full Review… | October 23, 2004
Chicago Sun-Times
Top Critic

James Bridges manages to do a fair job with the semihokey material.

Full Review… | January 1, 2000
Chicago Reader
Top Critic

...a fairly routine drama that never feels as though it's building to anything significant or even interesting...

Full Review… | January 24, 2015
Reel Film Reviews

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.

hunterjt13
Jim Hunter

Super Reviewer

½

Great little film about being a first year law student at Harvard. Great Gordon Willis cinematography to boot!

kenstachnik
Ken Stachnik

Super Reviewer

A funny & very odd movie. This movie had a really odd ending.

movieguru12
Cassie Hill

Super Reviewer

The Paper Chase Quotes

– Submitted by Tejas S (2 years ago)
– Submitted by Tejas S (2 years ago)
– Submitted by Tejas S (2 years ago)
– Submitted by Tejas S (2 years ago)

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