The Paper Chase (1973) - Plot Summary Poster

Plot Summary

  • 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
  • The trials and tribulations of a group of first year students at Harvard Law School. Focuses on one student in particular, James Hart (played by Timothy Bottoms). He immediately finds himself out of his depth, particularly in Contract Law where the teacher is a curmudgeonly, stern man who has taught the subject for 40 years, Professor Kingsfield (John Houseman). However, through hard work he starts to cope. Then he starts a relationship with Susan (Lindsay Wagner) and it is soon apparent that he may have to choose between her and passing his courses. To make matters worse, she's the professor's daughter.

    - Written by grantss
  • James T. Hart is just entering his first year as a Harvard law student. Being a Midwesterner from Minnesota already makes him atypical from the Harvard stereotype. But typical of many of his fellow first year classmates, he is asked to join a study group, which ends up being six disparate individuals who may not be compatible beyond the fact that they are all aiming for success in their law studies which they equate with success in their future professional life. Although given a head's up by a colleague back in Minnesota, Hart is nonetheless ill-prepared for the reality that is the Contract Law class taught by the irascible and demanding Professor Charles W. Kingsfield, Jr. Beyond being academically bright, Hart also demonstrates that he has some level of street smarts in the deduction he makes in how to add a little extra insurance in how to obtain that elusive good grade in Kingsfield's class, if only there are enough hours in the day to obtain that continued level of insurance. Those hours are decreased when Hart embarks in a relationship with Susan Fields, a young woman he meets in town in an unusual circumstance. What ends up being their roller coaster of a relationship is largely directed by her unique perspective of what he is going through with law school in general, and Kingsfield's class in particular. As the year progresses, Hart comes to a changing perspective of Kingsfield, where Hart no longer just wants to get a good grade in the class, but also wants Kingsfield's admiration as he begins truly to admire Kingsfield.

    - Written by Huggo
  • As a first-year law student at Harvard, James Hart knows he's got his work cut out for him. But things get harder than he anticipated when he runs afoul of the school's dreaded contracts professor, Charles W. Kingsfield Jr.. Wry and imposing, Kingsfield drives many of the lesser students to drop out, but James endures and, as if begging for more trouble, begins dating the professor's daughter, Susan.

    - Written by Jwelch5742
  • James T. Hart is a serious, hard-working student who recently graduated from the University of Minnesota. A first year law student at Harvard Law School, he desperately tries to impress his sternest professor, Charles W. Kingsfield Jr. As the school year progresses, Hart is overwhelmed with the pressure, the work, and his fear of failure. He meets Susan Fields and begins a love affair with her, discovering that she is Kingsfield's daughter. Hart finally accommodates himself to whatever might come his way, accepting a new set of priorities in his life.

    - Written by John Vogel <jlvogel@comcast.net>
  • A first-year law student at Harvard Law School struggles with balancing his coursework and his relationship with the daughter of his sternest professor.

    - Written by Shannon Patrick Sullivan <shannon@mun.ca>


Insecure but entitled midwesterner Hart arrives at Harvard Law School. During the first day of class...

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