Critic Reviews



Based on 7 critic reviews provided by
What's best about the movie is that it considers interesting adults--young and old--in an intelligent manner. After it's over we almost feel relief; there are so many movies about clods reacting moronically to romantic and/or violent situations. But we hardly ever get movies about people who seem engaging enough to spend half an hour talking with (what would you say to Charles Bronson?). Here's one that works.
The Paper Chase has some great performances, literate screenwriting, sensitive direction and handsome production. Timothy Bottoms is excellent as the puzzled law student, Lindsay Wagner is very good as his girl, and John Houseman, the veteran legit and film producer-director-writer, is outstanding as a hard-nosed but urbane law professor.
Assisted by Gordon Willis's cinematography and John Houseman's performance as the demanding Professor Kingsfield, director James Bridges manages to do a fair job with the semihokey material.
A muddled and slick youth film. Excellent sequences of his quarrelsome study group tearing one another apart under fierce competitive strain - and a fine performance by Houseman as their olympian, sadistic professor - make the film watchable.
Bottoms is a Minnesota-bred law student who comes to Harvard and the lecture hall of Houseman, an instructor who seemingly takes great pleasure in puncturing his students' egos. Bottoms falls in love with Wagner. Essentially, this is a military school plot with a change of venue.
It takes a long while for The Paper Chase to disintegrate, and there are some funny, intelligent sequences along the way, but by the end it has melted into a blob of clichés.
The New Yorker
The picture, written and directed by James Bridges, tries to be thoughtful and provocative, but it has nothing to say.

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