The Paper Chase (1973)

PG  |   |  Comedy, Drama  |  16 October 1973 (USA)
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Ratings: 7.2/10 from 5,367 users  
Reviews: 75 user | 20 critic

A first-year law student at Harvard Law School struggles with balancing his coursework and his relationship with the daughter of his sternest professor.


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Won 1 Oscar. Another 2 wins & 4 nominations. See more awards »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Kevin Brooks
Robert Lydiard ...
Lenny Baker ...
William Moss, Tutor
Regina Baff ...
Irma Hurley ...
Mrs. Weasal
Bill Moher ...
Miss Farranti
Richard Whelan ...


Serious, hard-working student James T. Hart faces the rigors of his first year at Harvard Law School. The pressure to succeed is tremendous and some of the students form study groups while also spending a great many hours studying. Hart's greatest challenge is contract law and his professor, Charles W. Kingsfield Jr. Using the Socratic method, Kingsfield challenges his students with questions demanding accuracy and creativity in their responses and often humiliating those who are unable to respond. As the school year progresses, Hart faces many challenges but befriends Susan Fields - unaware that she has a connection that affects their relationship. Finally, Hart accommodates himself to whatever might come his way, accepting a new set of priorities in his life. Written by garykmcd

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


You may be looking at a future President, Supreme Court Justice, Secretary of State or a dropout. See more »


Comedy | Drama


PG | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





Release Date:

16 October 1973 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

The Bright Young Men  »

Filming Locations:


Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(Westrex Recording System)


Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


The movie after its initial debut about five years later produced a spin-off television series of the same The Paper Chase (1978) name which ran for four seasons from 1978 to 1986. Actor John Houseman reprized his Oscar winning role for the TV show. The show lasted only one season on CBS, from 1978 to 1979, and was canceled because of low ratings. The cable channel Showtime revived the series in 1983, where it ran for three years without commercials and was a great success. John Houseman passed away two years after the series went off the air. The first season was released on DVD in April 2009, with Season 2 scheduled to follow in December. Chicago PBS station WTTW bought the rights to air season one episodes over a year after the series ended on CBS. The program aired on numerous PBS stations between 1980 and 1982. The revival was such a success, the Showtime cable network aired new episodes from 1983 to 1986. See more »


The airplane Hart makes from the envelope and the one that he throws from the rocks are two different planes. See more »


[first lines]
Charles W. Kingsfield Jr.: Mr. Hart, would you recite for us the facts of Hawkins versus McGee?
[looks up]
Charles W. Kingsfield Jr.: I do have you name right? You are "Mr. Hart"?
James T. Hart: [mumbles] Yes, my name's Hart.
Charles W. Kingsfield Jr.: You're not speaking loud enough, Mr. Hart. Will you speak up?
James T. Hart: Yes, my name's Hart.
Charles W. Kingsfield Jr.: Mr. Hart, you're still not speaking loud enough. Will you stand? Speak louder, Mr. Hart! Fill the room with your intelligence!
See more »


References Shaft (1971) See more »


CONCERTO IN D+ for 3 trumpets, tympani, 2 oboes, strings and harpsichord
Composed by Georg Philipp Telemann
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User Reviews

A must see for One-Ls
14 July 2001 | by (Chicago) – See all my reviews

So, you're planning on starting law school in the fall, are you? Even if it's not Harvard, you should definitely watch this movie to see what the Socratic method is all about and why you should carefully choose your study group members. Even though this movie was made nearly 20 years ago, it still rings true and feels current. John Houseman gives a terrific performance as the terrifying Professor Kingsfield. An absolutely outstanding movie!

13 of 15 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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