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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
Thirty six years ago (!) before multiplexes and without the blunting effect of Tarantino and Bigelow, regular effective and intelligent movies like THE PAPER CHASE were made by film companies who co-existed in a gentleman's game called production and exhibition. Films like this were made as stand alone statements about life and love and education, and were shown in luxury cinemas that had furniture (lampshades, even!) in the foyers and well dressed, informed adult staff. Today, in this clever new century we have an industry that has sawn off its own creative head in order to film the blood spurt, and reduced movie-going to all the elegance of a supermarket. Other comments here will tell you the whole story, but as with this comment, each distill down to one thing: THE PAPER CHASE is an excellent and interesting film made in a year of truly exceptional memorable films. Sadly THE PAPER CHASE has not been seen on TV or in cinemas for three decades either, a calamity hopefully balanced by a DVD release so new generations can discover what sensible life and times 1973 was....and how life had hope and success within reach. Timothy Bottoms and Lindsay Wagner have never really gone on to anything better either. The late great John Houseman reinvented a career at aged 71 in this film and won an Oscar for his withering excellence. What a great script and performances, and a defining film in many ways. Students in film schools everywhere should study THE PAPER CHASE ...perhaps along with LOVE STORY and CARNAL KNOWLEDGE two other films of the same period that fit the look and style and success of this film. I would love to sit in on a discussion by today's 20 year olds who having seen each of those three films can explain their success.
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