The Paper Chase (1973)

PG  |   |  Comedy, Drama  |  16 October 1973 (USA)
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Ratings: 7.2/10 from 5,371 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 picture was nominated for three Academy Awards in 1974 and won one gong for Best Supporting Actor (John Houseman). See more »


When Jim jumps on the bed next to Susan, his position next to her changes between shots. 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!
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Composed by Johann Sebastian Bach
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Frequently Asked Questions

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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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