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The Paper Chase
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Customer Reviews:

  • One Component Unrealistic, The Other I Don't Know
    I don't know whether this film was an accurate representation of law school, though it certainly did manage to portray the overwhelming air of superiority that emanates from all the lawyers I've ever met. Perhaps "Arrogance 1101 - 4101" is a series of courses embedded in a typical law school curriculum. There's definitely no reason to doubt that, based upon the behavior of all the lawyers with whom I have come into contact.

    Law school aside, the movie was weak in its presentation of the Hart-Susan relationship. It was sublimely accurate during the episode in the park, when Hart told Susan that she was failing to provide him "sustenance." He reclined on a blanket and closed his eyes, and she abruptly, silently departed the scene. He awoke hours later, bewildered that she was nowhere around. Every reasonable viewer thought, "Good for her, that's exactly what this arrogant little flake deserves." Then, however, upon encountering Hart at a party in her professor-father's home, she immediately accepts him back into her life, and they pick up right where they'd left off. A real-life woman with her experience (she was divorced, having been married to a law student for two years) would not have wasted another moment of thought on a little worm like Hart. But then again, they had to have some romance in the plot, thus Susan kept coming back to him....more info

  • An Intelligent Family Film
    A great film - superlative acting - wonderful sory line also powerful message on formal education and it's rewards --- Any member of the family age notwithstanding can enjoy this film ... hm dodd...more info
  • Excellent Purchase
    A "pimp" of a purchase for those who have ever heard of the movie & those who love great movies should take advantage of the lowest price out here....more info
  • Boring
    This movie is so boring. I painfully watched it during my first year of law school. The plot is thin and predictable and there is hardly any excitement in this movie....more info
  • Paper Chase
    So I got this movie because my law school professor swore by it and went on and on and on and on and on about how ALL of the law students when he was a law student were forced to watch this movie the night before law school started to scare the living daylights out of them. Eh. Not so much.

    The movie does have good qualities about it by showing you how a law school environment works and the kind of stress that a beginning law school student is going to be under...but, the movie is just boring. Blehhhhhhhhh....I couldn't wait until it finally reached it's climax and conclusion.

    I'm sure that at the time that the movie came out it was all the rage.

    It's worth checking out if you're going to be going to go to law school. I saw it AFTER my first year...so I guess the movie didn't have as great an impact on me as it would have had if I would have watched it BEFORE starting law school. ...more info
  • One of my favorite movies of all time
    I loved this movie. It helped me to understand that even though the Professor, (this could be your customer, or your boss) bites your head off, this happens, but it does not diminish you.

    I loved Kingsfield's Arrogance, earned Arrogance. It amazes me that some people can achieve so much greatness (yes, I know this is just a movie), but as the first reviewer said, these old men still walk the halls of Harvard (and every other prestigious University in this country).

    Hart's innocence and his experience learning (I really enjoyed the TV series, and this to the downfall of TV, that such a great series did not last, or at least barely made it into syndication on Public TV for a short time)

    The young married student, sorry I have forgotten his name, the one with the "Photographic Memory"... I loved it when he went over to the 3-L student's house, and the student gave him a hypothetical to work up and he'd figure out where his shortcomings in the Law were, and he'd help him merely from the answers he gives to the hypothetical.

    What a great movie about Great men (and women). Again, those men and women set the standards for our lives today. In our Government, Courts, Schools etc....more info
  • the facts in the case: a dissenting view
    This film recounts the experiences of a first-year law student in chronological order. There is nothing particularly interesting in these experiences, nor any insights into education, law school, relationships or any of the other things that movies try to enlighten us about.

    This film will appeal to lawyers who like to reminisce about their good ole days, and maybe law students, but only to them.

    Everyone else will be sitting, waiting for something to happen. But nothing ever does happen. Nor do we care about the people it doesn't happen to.

    You have been warned.
    ...more info
  • A Classic (especially for Lawyer Wannabees)
    I just watched this movie again, 20 years after I first saw it. I was in law school (not Harvard!) when it was released and I also had a Professor Kingsfield-type for contracts. The types of students, the competition, the panic about grades and exams, it's all here. I've asked some newer lawyers, and the majority said that it still reflects their law school experience. There may be some schools out there that are different, but I still think that anyone thinking of a legal career should watch this movie. One of the messages for Lawyer Wannabees is that even brilliant people may not have minds suitable to succeed in the law (Timothy Bottoms comments that a friend was really smart and wanted to go to Harvard Law but didn't do as well on the LSATs...lawyers all know someone similar, and can tell you about people who got into law school and then either fail on the curve or drop out -- there's a lot more to getting a J.D. than just being smart enough to get into a law school). Surprisingly, the age of the movie doesn't get in the way of the messages described so well in the other reviews. If I didn't know it was released in 1973, it would still appear pretty current (except for typewriters instead of computers and no cell phones!). No funky 60 cars, the clothes are pretty much back in style, and there are even similar hairstyles in my kids' high school and colleges today. Definitely recommended....more info
  • A battle for the soul
    I am an older student who just finished my first year of law school. The film is right on when it depicts the battle for your soul--will you be master of your fate and choose to do the work, or will you be driven by fear and insecurity and be enslaved to it? I experienced a little of both, and I do not want to spoil the film by revealing more to any who are trying to decide whether to buy or rent it. I heartily recommend it to anyone struggling with a self-imposed challenge.

    I would have wished that the film show more of the process of learning to "think like a lawyer" and what that actually means - turning the facts of the case over and over, looking for points to the advantage of either side, and weighing the relative strength of those arguments. However, I do commend the film for showing a little bit of the feeling I quite unexpectedly experienced of being part of a line going back to the Magna Carta, examining the value of a human being and her freedom and the needs of society and searching for the ever-evolving meaning of justice.

    As for the relationship between Kingsfield and Hart--my main professor was nothing like Kingsfield, but I did experience something eerily similar, right down to the last scene.

    One last aside-A previous reviewer noted the absence of the Carbolic Smoke Ball case from his edition of West--it is certainly in mine and is a very important case with regard to defining the law of a public offer.





    ...more info
  • NOT FAH FROM FENWAY PAHK
    Houseman won Supporting Actor Oscar for playing legendary Contracts Professor Kingsfield in this dated Vietnam era classic. A man of intellect and intimidation, Kingfield's Socratic method of teaching works well with this assemblage of intellectual "mush", which he tries to embolden to "think like lawyers".Key scenes include an opening day scenario in the lavatory, Hart being caught at the Prof's home with the latter's daughter, the library break-in, cramming for finals, and the beachside finale. Both Wagner and Bottoms play their roles well, and any serious college student could/can still relate to most of the movie. As implied, this is not a movie for everyone; only for those who are looking for a multi-sided nostalgia trip.
    ...more info
  • An old classic.
    This movie is just a great movie about how one man tries to cope with the first year of Harvard Law. Its a well written screen play adopted from a book (don't rember author) that keeps you interested the whole show without having to blow something up, or slap stick comedy....more info
  • Amusing, All-Encompassing, and Rewarding
    When you first enter law school, you hear the inside jokes surrounding this movie. Your friends joke about how your Contracts professor (or any professor) is imitating Kingsfield. You wonder why anyone would be so asinine to hide a book in a law library. You scoff and worry about the advice not to date anyone in your section, your law school, or your immediate vicinity period. If anyone told me that this movie would answer some of those questions and worries so poignantly, and do it in a way that would prove entertaining -- even to those wise/foolish enough to avoid pursuing a J.D. -- I would not have believed it. This movie has everything and then some for a curious 1L or for anyone wanting a more sobering film about law school that's not Legally Blonde I/II. Watching The Paper Chase is a rite of passage for any J.D. candidate in the United States....more info
  • Watch this before you go to law school
    There are plenty of movies with a little romance, a little drama, and a little comedy. This movie is special because it portrays law school is such an entertaining, and somewhat accurate manner. It also explores the themes that we all constantly wrestle with, our natural intelligence, hard work, or ultimate capabililties, and what we are willing to sacrifice to get ahead.

    The feckless and overly orthodox law professors that pollute the halls and classrooms of our nation's institutes of higher legal learning won't teach you as much about law school as this film will. The professor who appears in this film acutally explains his teaching methodology, the antiquated Socratic Method, which inspires students to learn and read through fear, which amounts to pointless question and answer sessions, which baffles students who once believed themselves to be intelligent before they were humiliated in front of their class!

    Professor Kingsfield's lectures and question and answer sessions in this film are frightening and are timeless displays of eloquence, much like Gunnery Sergeant Hartman in Full Metal Jacket. This movie, like no other, explores the fear and stress that law school students feel as they try to chase the paper, as they try to chase the grade.

    Our protaganist goes through the same struggles as real law students, as he must decide between personal and school. Will he chase the girl that he is falling in love with? Or will he spend the weekend studying? Will he become the silent law school student that hopes that he does not get called on, or will he burn the midnight oil and become part of the upper echelon of law school students that savor the spotlight and volunteer to be participants in the feared Socratic nightmare? Will he fall prey to the paper chase and sell his sould to get the grade? You'll see law students crack, you'll see friendships fail, you'll see betrayal and competition, and you'll see disappointment in the face of the student that just can't hack it.

    You'll get a sense of the conflict that is played out in the minds of those students who have the natural ability, but are conflicted whether or not they want to put in the work and take the pain that is necessary to succeed in law school and be at the top of their class.

    The movie is entertaining, humorous, and the best part of all are the interactions between students and the sharp, aggressive law professor....more info
  • The Paper Chase
    At a time of heightened competitiveness in academia, James Bridges's "The Paper Chase" makes for relevant as well as highly pleasurable viewing. Set in one of the most demanding environments--Harvard Law School--the film portrays learning at its most intense, where the depth and breadth of the curriculum represents a marathon, testing the brain and body's endurance. Timothy Bottoms is wonderful as the student who may be in over his head, but John Houseman, as the remote, brilliant law professor who strikes terror in his charges, is the reason this film scores a solid A....more info
  • Paper Chase for training tutors
    This is a fabulous movie that not only depicts excellent teaching techniques but is a prime example of the Socratic Method. We have a no-pen policy in our tutoring program; that is, the tutors do not do any writing. Rather, the student is to do the work and problem-solve while the tutor facilitates the process. I teach the tutors at my University to use the Socratic Method of tutoring; asking reflecting questions so that the student can teach themselves how to work the problems.

    I highly recommend this movie as a teaching tool and as an example of andragogical approach to learning. ...more info
  • A must see for law students
    This movie does very accurately represent the first year of law school. I heard some great advice once: Watch it in August before you ship off to school, and watch it over Thanksgiving when you're home - laugh when you can identify your friends from school in the movie. And, contrary to the first reviewer's experience, I did read Carbolic Smoke Ball first year - but, I went to NYU, not Harvard....more info
  • Brought memories of Graduate School
    This movie brought alot of memories for me. I did not go to Law school but got a master's degree with the same pressures. From the study groups, to the same characters in real life, to the pressures of finals, and the Socratic method of teaching. For me, it was Professor Herman. This is a great film because it succeeds in bringing the characters to life. Especially for those of us that went to Graduate or Law school. Highly recommended....more info
  • decent movie, but not real life
    This is a decent movie, but hardly depicts the way that law school is, either in the late 1970s or espically in 2007. Professors today actually try to get AWAY from the Kingsfield sterotype that this movie created. Of course there are exceptions, and professors still use socratic at times, but it is very "soft." People can pass all the time in class, say i dont know, and NOTHING happens to them, indeed nobody even cares or looks up from playing games on their laptops.

    So watch the movie, but don't use it as some kind of window into law school life. ...more info
  • For a Night of Thinking
    I watched this in the 70s and wanted to see if I still liked it as much as I thought I did. I did. I was more distracted by the romance this time and wanted more classroom time, but this is a great movie to watch when you want to be inspired by the role that teachers play in our lives....more info
  • After loving the '78 CBS TV series, the movie didn't disappoint
    Great movie, just not too thrilled with the broken DVD case that caused DVD to be rattling around freely in case prior to delivery. If I didn't think it would have been a hassle, I would have asked for another.

    Again, a great movie. Actually, I'd forgotten what a good-looking woman Lindsay Wagner is! Wow!

    This is a perfect movie for me as I prepare for law school. I've tried hard to familiarize myself with all aspects of law school, before and beyond. What potential law school student doesn't daydream of what it would be like to be accepted to HLS?...more info
  • Paper Chase Questions
    The movie was an interesting example of a first year law student learning to think in questions (Socratic Method) and develop his ability to see the underlying meaning. John Houseman does a great job in the role of professor and Timothy Bottoms does a good job as the student in question. It was an enjoyable film. The movie is not a masterpiece but is interesting from a graduate student's perspective. The ability to see the pressures involved and to see how relationships are played out is an interesting side story. The best scenes are in the classroom and in the study groups. Overall, I would recommend to any one attending business or law school or who is interested in learning via questions.

    ...more info
  • Ok
    Belive it or not, my Contracts professor loves this movie. I on the other hand, do not. The movie was pretty slow and I don't really believe it accurately portrays the current law school experience. I could make for a good movie to scare potential law students and it may make for a good movie for someone who doesn't believe law school acutally was, and sometimes still it, like this. I felt the movie was really slugish, it just wasn't entertaining....more info
  • Great Chase!
    I'm proud to own this copy of the excellent film Paper Chase (I'd like to read the book now that I've seen the film several times), one with no fuss no bother, just a clean shot, excellent commentary and intro. A master piece. Would there were more like it. ...more info
  • An original and stimulating film
    This film, which centers around the first year in a class of contract law at Harvard, is one of the very few I know which makes you want to study, whatever subject it is that you are studying, and to be like the main character, James Hart, played superbly by Timothy Bottoms. The suspense in The Paper Chase is whether or not he and the members of his group of study will manage to pass under the overpowering rule of professor Charles Kingsfield, which is a truly unforgettable character and made the actor John Houseman win an Oscar for Best Supporting Role. Believe me, you have to see him to believe him, there are no accurate descriptions adequate enough to tell you how good he is. I also very much like the fact that being this a film about the study of law, it doesn't deal with criminal law, which any one might have think was the more interesting subject of that career. Instead, it deals with Contract Law, which I, before seeing this picture, would have thought was a very boring subject. This shows that you can make something good out of any subject. Credit for that the director James Bridges (The China Sindrome, Urban Cowboy), and the intelligent script by John Jay Osborne and James Bridges. ...more info
  • The film with the reluctant star
    This is one of my favorite movies and showcases a fabulous performance by John Houseman, who was asked at the last minute to act the part. Other stars,including James Mason, John Gielgud, and Edward G. Robinson had been asked to take the lead but refused, so finally director James Bridges asked his mentor Houseman to take the role. And Houseman won an Oscar for it as Best Supporting Actor! He fills the role with dignity and intellect and thoroughly intimidates Timothy Bottoms starring as an eager law student from Minnesota. The film is also the debut of Lindsay Wagner, see mostly doing mattress commercials these days, but she really is a good actress. The film is set at Harvard Law School but since the school hated the publicity from "Love Story", also set on the famous Cambridge campus, most of "Paper Chase" was filmed in Toronto. The movie has many touching and amusing moments and carries you along briskly to the end where the filmmakers finally hit a false note. I understand what the characters were doing but it struck me as out of character and I never found the ending very satisfying. That said, the film still has so much to offer including a fun score by John Williams from early in his brilliant career. The supporting cast is uniformly fine and this is a movie I enjoying watching again and again....more info
  • Modest story, but a strong cast
    John Housman, as the brilliant, unapproachable, Harvard Law professor, pulls this train. A first year law student, Timothy Bottoms, is not satisfied with getting what his professor has to teach him about contract law; he is driven to get the professor to recognize him as an individual. His professor is like the old school football coach; He doesn't care if you like him, but you will be a great football player when he is done with you. Houseman, plays the professor to perfection even with a slight hint, but nothing revealed, of a human being. The high levels of anxiety and competition, that are awash in ego, is depicted through Bottoms' fellow students. Modest story, but a great cast of characters....more info
  • The Perfect Antidote to "Legally Blonde" (and "Ally McBeal")
    I recommend this film to all the young women (and men) who found "Legally Bonde" and "Ally McBeal" hilarious and thus think they'd like to go to Law School, especially Harvard. I learned the hard way (HLS '87) just how accurate this portrayal is...although the student body is now MUCH more diverse than the white males portrayed in this film....more info