Actor John Houseman said of his Best Supporting Actor Oscar nomination and win in his autobiography that "my first reaction was one of incredulity and vague pleasure, followed by a sense of embarrassment at the realization that for most actors of my age an Academy Award or even a nomination comes as the hard-earned culmination of a long and dedicated career: mine was the reward for ten agreeable days spent with a friend in Toronto!".
Harvard University only allowed three days of filming on their campus due to the administration's dissatisfaction with the final film after the shooting of Love Story (1970) there by the Paramount Pictures studio . As such, most of the campus scenes were shot at the University of Toronto.
This movie launched the acting career of John Houseman who went from virtually being a novice to a veteran actor from his one single appearance in this film which garnered him a Best Supporting Actor Academy Award. Houseman worked regularly as an actor for around fifteen years after this picture with a perception of him being an acting veteran (despite this being his only second cinema movie) especially when being teamed together with such great Old Hollywood timers Fred Astaire, Melvyn Douglas and Douglas Fairbanks Jr. in Ghost Story (1981).
The movie after its initial debut about five years later produced a spin-off television series of the same The Paper Chase (1978) name which ran for four seasons from 1978 to 1986. Actor John Houseman reprized his Oscar winning role for the TV show. The show lasted only one season on CBS, from 1978 to 1979, and was canceled because of low ratings. The cable channel Showtime revived the series in 1983, where it ran for three years without commercials and was a great success. John Houseman passed away two years after the series went off the air. The first season was released on DVD in April 2009, with Season 2 scheduled to follow in December. Chicago PBS station WTTW bought the rights to air season one episodes over a year after the series ended on CBS. The program aired on numerous PBS stations between 1980 and 1982. The revival was such a success, the Showtime cable network aired new episodes from 1983 to 1986.
The American Film Institute website states that John "Houseman was only approached [to play Professor Kingsfield] after East Coast locations were decided upon and the producers had visited Juilliard School for the Arts, where Houseman had established the acting program, looking to cast the roles of students".
Hart (Timothy Bottoms)'s first name, James, is hardly used in the film. It is spoken twice: when Hart introduces himself to Brooks and when Hart walks by O'Connor during Kingsfield's reception and O'Connor acknowledges him with "Jim." His full name, James T. Hart, appears on Hart's final exam and, in tiny lettering, on the envelope containing his grades. In the later TV series The Paper Chase (1978) the character is played by James Stephens - an actor with the same first name as the James T. Hart character.
Director James Bridges once said of actor John Houseman: "Almost every major theater in America is run by a Houseman protégé. Before there was [Professor] Kingsfield there was John Houseman. He was the Kingsfield to many of the actors, producers, directors on the American stage today".
Stage and theatre producer and director John Houseman with this film which he appeared in at around seventy years of age, then because of it's success and his Oscar win, at the age of 71, Houseman went on to receive worldwide fame and recognition.
First cinema movie as an actor in around nine years for John Houseman whose only previous theatrical feature film credit for acting was uncredited playing Vice-Admiral Farley C. Barnswell in Seven Days in May (1964).
The "hairy hand" case that Hart is asked to describe in class is a classic in contract law, based on a 1929 case in New Hampshire, Hawkins vs. McGee. Dr. McGee promised Hawkins a perfect hand after a skin graft. McGee botched it and the court awarded Hawkins what they thought would be the difference between the promised perfect hand and the hairy palm he wound up with.