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Child's Play (1972)

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Ratings: 6.1/10 from 450 users  
Reviews: 9 user | 24 critic

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

Taglines:

You only lose once.


Certificate:

PG | See all certifications »
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Details

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Release Date:

16 July 1973 (Sweden)  »

Also Known As:

Den dödliga leken  »

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Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Marlon Brando originally signed for the role of Joseph Dobbs (Robert Preston), but quit the production before principal photography commenced. According to Bob Thomas's "Brando: Portrait of the Artist as a Rebel", Brando quit the production when he realized that James Mason had the better role, and that his flagging career would soon be revitalized by the The Godfather (1972). Preston, a fine actor, received poor reviews for his performance from Pauline Kael, among others. Brando subsequently was sued by producer David Merrick. See more »

Quotes

Father Penny: [Slightly drunk] I don't know if you've noticed. There is the decided smell of brimstone in the air. This may have been the wrong way for me, but I believe in God, and I believe in Satan.
[He drinks and sets his glass down uneasily, only to have it fall]
Father Penny: Now I believe I will go get another drink.
[He walks tipsily out of the room]
See more »

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User Reviews

 
Harold Hill meets Mr. Chips
8 November 2012 | by (Buffalo, New York) – See all my reviews

Apparently at this exclusive Catholic prep school even the civilian teachers have to be officially celibate. In Child's Play the focus of the film is on an intense rivalry between a pair of civilian teachers who have no outside attachments, save for James Mason and his dying mother. So they indulge in this rivalry for the approval of the students. And Robert Preston who dusts off a bit of his Harold Hill persona from The Music Man is winning hands down.

Child's Play, a David Merrick Production on stage ran 342 performances during the 1970 season and starred Pat Hingle and Fritz Weaver in the roles that Preston and Mason essay here. Preston is a charmer as Professor Harold Hill was, but his charm is laced with malevolence. For reasons I'm not sure whether for money or prestige Preston turns the students against Mason, he wants Mason out to move up in some kind of seniority system.

Mason makes it real easy. A stiff demanding pedagogue he's Mr. Chips before Robert Donat's marriage to Greer Garson humanized him. He's way past the age of retirement, but other than a terminally ill mother this guy has no life. Going to teach gives him an excuse to get up in the morning.

Both these guys are a pair of real closet cases. Both are obsessed with the young male preppy kids they teach, Mason just does not know how to relate to them. Preston does and he uses his influence with them to produce some terrible consequences.

Caught in the middle of all this is new gym teacher Beau Bridges who once went to this school. He knows both men from his years there, but learns a whole lot more once he becomes a faculty member and learns disturbing stuff about both.

Child's Play is smartly directed and photographed by Sidney Lumet. Pay attention to some of the deep focus cinematography involving all three of the players I've named in joint scenes. All three register facial expressions that help move the story along immensely.

I think a lot was left out of the play coming over from Broadway, but still Child's Play is a fine film with great performances from the leads.


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