82 user 18 critic

The Paper Chase (1973)

PG | | Comedy, Drama | 16 October 1973 (USA)
A first-year law student at Harvard Law School struggles with balancing his coursework and his relationship with the daughter of his sternest professor.



(novel), (screenplay)

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





Cast overview, first billed only:
Kevin Brooks
Robert Lydiard ...
Lenny Baker ...
William Moss
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?


James Bridges, the director, cast John Houseman in the role of Professor Kingsfield. Houseman had been Bridges' mentor and teacher prior to the making of this picture. See more »


During Kingsfield's cocktail party Bottom's character finds out his love interest is Kingsfield's daughter and is understandably perturbed. As she approaches him, he looks to walk out the door. At that point Hart nearly runs into Edward Herman's character (Thomas) but calls him 'Ed'! Oops. 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 »


Referenced in The Sum of All Fears (2002) See more »


Composed by Johann Sebastian Bach
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User Reviews

This was one of the great films of 1973,and it shows in grand detail.
17 December 2004 | by (Durham,North Carolina) – See all my reviews

The year was 1973. The top ten films of that year were sure fire Oscar contenders and some were one of the highest grossing pictures of that year. The Best Pictures of 1973 were "American Graffiti","The Sting", "The Exorcist","Save The Tiger","Cries and Whispers","Paper Moon", "Cinderella Liberty","The Way We Were","Papillon","Serpico","The Last Detail","A Touch Of Class",not to mention the several movies that shattered the box office receipts that were the best of the genre,the action flick/marital arts adventure smash hit "Enter The Dragon",and the Southern crime drama "Walking Tall",and the musical "Jesus Christ Superstar". The movie that took home the statues that year was "The Sting",which won seven Oscars including The Best Picture of that year,1973.

And the one movie that defined a generation,even some who have never seen it,it is still one breathtaking piece of cinematic work,and even 30 years after its release,it still has that impact,and that motion picture,"The Paper Chase" still holds that stance to this day. This was a film that had some great performances,literate screen writing,sensitive direction and handsome production. This was a tale of a young law school student from Minnesota,in his first year of Law at Harvard,is confused by his professional calling versus his inner evolution as a human being,may seemed a bit timeless yet dated,but instead goes into the vortex of his experiences as a student as he goes through the motions here,which gets the audience a series of sideways though entertaining of the thespian declamations. James Bridges directs his own adaptation of the novel by Jay Osborn. Jr. But the performances here are sensational,with Timothy Bottoms,who is excellent as the puzzled law student,Lindsay Wagner as the girl who plays not only his love interest,but is the daughter of a tyrannical college professor. But the one who steals the show is John Houseman,who won the Oscar for Best Supporting Actor in 1973 gives a outstanding performance as a hard-nosed but urbane law professor. A man who looms over students like a quietly arrogant Goliath. The three players here constitute the pervading plot triangle that gives the picture its intensity-Houseman as the classroom dictator,Bottoms the uncertain supplicant,and Wagner,who plays Houseman's daughter. This is a film that in some places,particularly on college campuses in shown as a midnight movie for student and it is available on video for those who really want to know what the experiences of being a law student is really like. A must see. It is to note,that Houseman later replayed his role of the college professor in a much-respected and Emmy nominated television series based on "The Paper Chase",which ran for six years on television.

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