86 user 18 critic

The Paper Chase (1973)

PG | | Comedy, Drama | 16 October 1973 (USA)
3:09 | Trailer

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A first-year law student at Harvard Law School struggles with balancing his coursework and his relationship with the daughter of his sternest professor.



(novel), (screenplay)
Won 1 Oscar. Another 2 wins & 4 nominations. See more awards »





Cast overview, first billed only:
Robert Lydiard ...
Regina Baff ...
Asheley Brooks
Irma Hurley ...
Mrs. Weasal
Bill Moher ...
Miss Farranti


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 have to choose between the girl you love and the diploma you've worked for all your life. You have 30 seconds. 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

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(Westrex Recording System)


Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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Did You Know?


The picture was nominated for three Academy Awards in 1974 and won one for Best Supporting Actor (John Houseman). See more »


During Kingsfield's cocktail party Bottom's character finds out his love interest is Kingsfield's daughter and is understandably perturbed. As she approaches him, he looks to walk out the door. At that point Hart nearly runs into Edward Herman's character (Thomas) but calls him 'Ed'! Oops. 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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Referenced in Mary and Rhoda (2000) See more »


Composed by Johann Sebastian Bach
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User Reviews

A great movie, especially for those considering law school
12 August 2003 | by See all my reviews

A lot of what this movie contains jibes with the exact things I've been researching in my quest to figure out if I'd like to try law school. Socratic Method, Case book studies, study groups, 1st year hell, Finals Uber-crunch time...and the lack of a life outside of law school. The romantic element adds a nice touch and serves as a necessary plot line to keep this from becoming just a boring law school trials and tribulations flick. It is actually relevant as it addresses the issue of maintaining relationships while in the midst of pursuing what is, for many, a lifelong dream in one of the most rigorous programs of study existing in post graduate education.

Keep in mind, however, that this IS just a movie. I can see this movie discouraging 90% of potential law school students from giving it a try. The main "antagonist" is a BEAR of a professor who is legendary for his role in humiliating students in class. At one point, he gives the movie's main character a dime as he says "Here's a dime. Now go call your mother and tell her that there is serious doubt that you will ever become a lawyer."

This film is almost worth giving a look-see just for the dated 70's hairdo's alone. Keep an eye out for the character by the name of Bell. So obnoxious and pompous you love him. The Paper Chase is a classic which needs to be seen by all.

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