Starring: Timothy Bottoms, Lindsay Wagner, & John Houseman
Rating: 2 out of 5 stars
The Paper Chase is considered to be a classic, but not because it's a good movie, but rather because of the performance of one man, John Houseman. His Academy Award winning portrayal lead to the films reputation and even spawned a successful television series, however similar to Dead Poet's Society, this film is revered for just one performance. The Paper Chase takes place during freshman year at Harvard Law School, where the students meet Professor Kingsfield (John Houseman), a throwback to when school was hard and degrees had to be earned. Kingsfield relishes in his reputation as the toughest Professor on campus, and his students have no idea what they're in for. Timothy Bottoms stars and really is one of the big problems with this film. He's the student who had to work harder than the rest just to get there, and wants nothing more than to become Kingsfield's favorite, but he's an asshole. How are viewers expected to get behind and root for someone who is so selfish and vile? As for his counterpart, John Houseman, he really was terrific and earned every bit of credit he has received for his performance. Without Houseman's portrayal of Professor Kingsfield, this film would have been quickly forgotten about, forty years ago, but it was the kind of performance that makes a career and carries a film, something that will never be forgotten. From the stand point of a moviegoer, the film is slow and boring, with a leading character I couldn't stand, but as a fan of film, I can't help but be impressed by John Houseman and recommend that his amazing performance be seen by the fans of today.