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Child's Play (1972)

6.1
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Ratings: 6.1/10 from 441 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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Title: Child's Play (1972)

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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

Pat Hingle, Fritz Weaver, and Ken Howard played the Preston, Mason, and Bridges roles on Broadway. Both Weaver and Howard won Tonysfor their work. David Rounds recreated his role from the Broadway production. The play ran 342 performances. 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

 
Shallow and pointless exercise disguised as frightening horror film
20 February 2013 | by (São Paulo, Brazil) – See all my reviews

Not even heavy names like Sidney Lumet, James Mason and Beau Bridges can make of "Child's Play" everything that it should be. Halfway through a more experienced viewer like me will think of similar and better executed examples of the same story: the disturbance between the students of a boy's school after one dangerous incident after another involving injured students are deeply concerning among teachers who'll investigate the case to later find out things are not what they appear, and one of them might be the source of all this trouble.

In this grandfather of films like "The Faculty", we follow the rivalry between a tyrant teacher (James Mason) hated by everyone versus a more likable guy (Robert Preston), and in the middle of this is the new PE teacher (Beau Bridges) former student of the place, now trying to uncover the mystery involving the students and their deadly beatings on some of their classmates, and also the threatening letters given to the menacing master.

A movie with such divided line of classes shouldn't keep distant at one of them and focus mainly on the other. This should be like "Gosford Park", following from the top of the pyramid to the lowest level. But no. The frightening students are given one horrific scene here and there, most of the time they're in the background of the whole action and let's face it, they suck as actors with those emotionless expressions that doesn't cause anything after a while. One dimensional at its worst. And while we have time to see the teachers and the headmaster dealing with the case everything is incredibly slow, sickening and overplayed. Bridges gets sympathy from us because like him we're entering into a new thing, wanting to get answers on events that seem unexplainable; Mason gets more credit than he ever deserved it, not only from the titles giving him as a lead when he's not but also credit from many critics who praise his performance. Not only his character isn't sympathetic (even when he should be after getting more and more death threats, we should feel something for him but we don't due to its emotional overreactions) but we sense that he is too performatic, representing on a play and never being the character. He's a trained dictator and not the dictator, lack of embodiment ruined his acting in this film. If "Child's Play" deserves a little of recognition is because of Robert Preston playing the cool teacher. The more the film develops, the more he changes into something he's not, a part rarely played that grows on you. Probably the good remembrances after watching this film is because of him.

I disliked this yet it was almost enjoyable. First of all there's no lesson learned in here. Movies with teachers in the main roles commonly features some rewarding (or not but they do try) lesson or a useful teaching. By those standards, what do we get? There's little devils in the school working for a great devil with a noble purpose? Quite alright. Unappealing drama, stiff horror with few pleasant and thrilling moments but it doesn't go too far with a predictable plot underworked ruined by its lack of action. This proved to be a wrong project for Lumet, he's good in conducting filmic play adaptations but this one adds almost nothing to his resume. He didn't had the touch for the horror and it's a meaningless play so why do it. Might have been successful on Broadway (as it was played at one time) but as a film doesn't deliver much. Doesn't deliver at all. Just leaves a sour taste in the mouth. 5/10


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