At an exclusive boys' school, a new gym teacher is drawn into a feud between two older instructors, and he discovers that everything at the school is not quite as staid, tranquil and harmless as it seems.

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
Jerome Malley
...
Joseph Dobbs
...
Paul Reis
Ron Weyand ...
Father Mozian
...
Father Griffin
David Rounds ...
Father Penny
Kate Harrington ...
Mrs. Carter
Jamie Alexander ...
Sheppard
Brian Chapin ...
O'Donnell
Bryant Fraser ...
Jennings
Mark Hall Haefeli ...
Wilson
Tom Leopold ...
Shea
Julius Lo Iacono ...
McArdle
Christopher Man ...
Travis
Paul O'Keefe ...
Banks
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Storyline

Paul Reis returns to the exclusive Catholic prep school he graduated from nine years earlier as a gym teacher. He is reunited with his former mentor and English teacher, the affable and gregarious Joseph Dobbs, the most popular member of the faculty and advisor to the junior class, and Jerome Malley, a strict disciplinarian and teacher of classical languages, whose old-fashioned methods make him heartily disliked by his pupils. Reis finds himself caught in between the two men in a struggle for the hearts, minds, and souls of the boys. Malley, nicknamed "Lash" by his students has ruled out retirement, and Dobbs, who feels that Malley has lost touch with the students, hopes to inherit the senior class. Even though Malley's mother is dying an agonizing death from cancer, the Latin and Greek teacher refuses to surrender his position as head of the senior class to a man whose motives he questions. The tensions on the faculty are mirrored in the student body, which has endured a rash of ... Written by duke1029@aol.com

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

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You only lose once.


Certificate:

PG | See all certifications »
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Details

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Release Date:

1 June 1973 (Ireland)  »

Also Known As:

Den dödliga leken  »

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Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Paul Reis' name was spelled "Reese" in the theatrical version. See more »

Quotes

Joseph Dobbs: [to his juniors] If you don't trust kids, don't become teachers. If you're afraid of kids, get out of the business of running schools!
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User Reviews

The prime of Mister Paul Reis
6 November 2010 | by See all my reviews

Among Lumet' s monumental filmography ,"child's play" must be ,even more than the overlooked "the group" ,the movie nobody knows or loves to hate .

Personally, I have always thought that Lumet is particularly at ease when he directs films the action of which takes place in an enclosed space: a tribunal in "12 angry men" ,a bank in "dog day afternoon" a train in "murder on the orient express" a house in "deathtrap" or "long day's journey into night" the Strategic Air Command in "fail safe" ,a prisoners camp in "the hill".....

"Child's play " happens entirely in a boys high school but the students are not often on the screen ;unlike some naive works such as "dead poets society" ,the nice modern beloved teacher (Robert Preston) is not the one you think he is ;he is a distant relative of the "good" teacher Miss Brodie in "the prime of miss Jean Brodie ";whereas the old maid was urging her students to fight for "noble " causes such as Spanish fascism,her

colleague uses them to put his old "pal" James Mason down,to drive him crazy;his motives are very obscure (the fact that he wants to teach the twelfth graders is not really convincing and one could write that "some people who do not fit get the only fun they get by putting people down ",as John Prine sings ."So cold ,sometimes it looks so cold" .Women (apart from a nurse) are completely absent and no one among the secular staff has a girlfriend or a wife ,even the young naive gym teacher.Beau Bridges is a bit clumsy and as a sports teacher ,well...besides he lacks charisma and his dramatic range is ineffective in the scene when he blames his colleague (just compare with young Pamela Franklin playing opposite Maggie Smith in a similar scene at the end of "Miss Jean Brodie").

All in all,when you cannot mention it in the same breath as Lumet's works I mention above ,if you like this director,you should catch it :James Mason is excellent in his part of a fallen pitiful Latin teacher (you can also notice his subject had already begun to lose the prestige it used to have in ancient times) and Robert Preston is all the more scary since he remains cheerful or straight-faced.A flawed but nonetheless worthy work .

Like this ? try these.....

"Unman,Wittering and Zigo" (McKenzie,1971)

"The prime of miss Jean Brodie (Neame,1970)


6 of 8 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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