© 1973 Thompson Films

The Paper Chase (1973)

After the 1930s, the 1970s are my favorite decade for American. In fact it is hard for me to find a major film from the ’70s that I haven’t seen yet, and so it is always a pleasure when I watch one for the first time. I had never seen The Paper Chase, although I knew of it from the TV series adaptation that was still running when I was a kid. The setting of story of a group of students struggling through the first year of Harvard Law School doesn’t really appeal to me much at all. The dramatic arch of a student who becomes obsessed with making an impression his contract law professor is fairly interesting, but what makes the movie good is that director James Bridges was able to get some pretty good performances from actors like Timothy Bottoms and Bernard Herrmann, who were at the very start of their careers, and a magnificent turn from John Houseman, who had been involved with in the film industry since co-producing Citizen Kane, and whose career experienced a renaissance after he won an Oscar for this role. The pensive cinematography by Gordon Willis also adds a lot to the film.

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