Movies & More reviewer John Gillispie shares his thoughts on “The Paper Chase,” which is rated PG.
Many students understand stress. In 1973’s “The Paper Chase,” Timothy Bottoms portrays James Hart, a first-year Harvard law student who strives to impress a tough law professor played by John Houseman. For his role as Professor Kingsfield, Houseman won the Best Supporting Actor Oscar for a performance that I find myself still thinking about days after viewing the film.
Hart teams up with five other law students to form a study group to divide coursework into six topics to provide study outlines to one another at exam time. “The Paper Chase” shows us the struggles of these students and the sacrifices they make to try to be successful.
In fact, when Hart strikes up a relationship with Susan (Lindsay Wagner), he is warned by a classmate that he will fall behind in his studies. The relationship with Susan is complicated even further when Hart finds out she is separated from her husband and the daughter of Kingsfield.
While I found “The Paper Chase” moved slowly in a couple of places, I was interested in the film’s story and how the characters would handle the immense stress they are experiencing.
The movie’s ending seems to reveal an important decision Hart has made. After watching “The Paper Chase,” I found myself wondering if Houseman’s Professor Kingsfield had adopted such a gruff persona to push his students to work harder or if the character was just not interested in getting to know his students.
“The Paper Chase,” which I watched on DVD, is a film that I had been meaning to revisit for a while now. I remember having fond memories of watching early episodes of “The Paper Chase” TV show, which also starred Houseman, when I was a child.