The Paper Chase


D: James Bridges
20th Century Fox (Robert C. Thompson & Rodrick Paul)
US 1973
111 mins
W: James Bridges [based on the novel by John Jay Osborn, Jr.]
DP: Gordon Willis
Ed: Walter Thompson
Mus: John Williams
Timothy Bottoms (James T. Hart), Lindsay Wagner (Susan Fields), John Houseman (Charles W. Kingsfield, Jr.), Graham Beckel (Franklin Ford III)

A struggling Harvard law student falls in love with the divorced daughter of his crotchety, peevish professor.

This is a good example of one great performance making the movie, with John Houseman stealing it away from every other cast member and making a rather mundane story incredibly watchable.  Aside from this performance, the film isn't particularly special and certainly wouldn't be as memorable. It's a template which has worked in films since, to much better effect (Whiplash, an excellent example).

A television series followed, running for four seasons.

John Houseman in The Paper Chase
John Houseman in The Paper Chase