The Paper Chase


Pros: Think you’ve ever had a tough professor?  Think again.  1973 film follows the trials and tribulations of a lowly Harvard law student and his score-obsessed pals as they try to impress a tenured professor with demonic tendencies.  Throw in a romance with (surprise!) the prof’s daughter, suicidal despair, and some impressive studying tactics, and you’ll almost have a degree yourself.  Excellent performances by the impressively snooty John Houseman, Jean Wagner, and Timothy Bottoms’ mustache, as well as a supporting role for Rory Gilmore’s grandpa.  Makes law school look almost tolerable.

Cons: Is it really that easy to shrug off The Man?  The ending seems to suggest it is, at least for those of us with ready access to a Cape Cod beach house and the poetic Atlantic waves.

The Verdict: An overlooked gem: a satisfying, contained, and wry look at the 70s, law school, perseverance, and wisdom.  Also with the requisite 70s freeze-frame shot in the final credits—who could resist?


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