The Paper Chase

Critics Consensus

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83%

TOMATOMETER

Total Count: 29

72%

Audience Score

User Ratings: 4,509

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Movie Info

As a first-year law student at Harvard, James Hart (Timothy Bottoms) knows he's got his work cut out for him. But things get harder than he anticipated when he runs afoul of the school's dreaded contracts professor, Charles W. Kingsfield Jr. (John Houseman). Wry and imposing, Kingsfield drives many of the lesser students to drop out, but James endures and, as if begging for more trouble, begins dating the professor's daughter, Susan (Lindsay Wagner).

Cast

Timothy Bottoms
as James T. Hart
John Houseman
as Prof. Kingsfield
Edward Herrmann
as Thomas Craig Anderson
Bob Lydiard
as O'Connor
Regina Batt
as Asheley
Regina Baff
as Asheley
Blair Brown
as Miss Farranti
Jan Campbell
as 1st Hotel Maid
Dora Dainton
as 2nd Hotel Maid
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Critic Reviews for The Paper Chase

All Critics (29) | Top Critics (5) | Fresh (24) | Rotten (5)

Audience Reviews for The Paper Chase

  • Aug 27, 2011
    A Harvard law student dates his imperious professor's daughter. I've thought about <i>The Paper Chase</i> 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.
    Jim H Super Reviewer
  • Dec 23, 2010
    A funny & very odd movie. This movie had a really odd ending.
    Cassie H Super Reviewer
  • Oct 14, 2009
    Worth taking a look at.What a good movie
    Brody M Super Reviewer
  • Jan 11, 2009
    Better than I remembered it to be (perhaps that's because I was 11 years old the first time?). Dated only by its score and its sense of fashion, <i>The Paper Chase</i> is still identifiably relevant to anyone who has ever sat in a college classroom or crammed for a final exam. Just watching it gave me test anxiety. :)
    Randy T Super Reviewer

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