The Paper Chase – 1973

The first thing that strikes me is that all the funky hairdos of the early 70s are coming back into style today.  Also, I don’t think I’d last ten minutes if law school is as intimidating as this film makes it.  And, damn, Timothy Bottoms is really handsome even by today’s standards.  Even the mustache works for  him.  I’m shallow that way.

Timothy Bottoms has a unibrow.  This isn’t a judgment, really, but they keep using closeups of him to get us to understand how law school, his professor and his girlfriend are taking their toll on him.  So from far away I think he’s adorable and close up I keep getting distracted by his unibrow.  This is especially true in the scene when he blows off his girlfriend by telling her she doesn’t give him enough sustenance and I think he’s a dick.  He wakes up to her being gone and calls her a bitch.  This is why we hate lawyers.

Every time I see a typewriter in a film or television show I remember how much I loved my typewriter and I think that I miss it.  Then I remember how computers do exactly what a typewriter did and a whole lot more and the feeling goes away quickly.

So the law stuff started to bore me and then we got Timothy Bottoms and James Naughton in speedos.  Point Paper Chase.

I have this sense that we’re being set up for a suicide (or at least attempt) by James Naughton’s character.  This is one of the problems with many novels and films from this era…you can kind of see things coming.  I imagine I’ll find out soon enough if I’m right.

I’m also finding no chemistry between Timothy Bottoms and Lindsay Wagner.  Which isn’t the fault of either of them….their acting is fine but I’m having a difficult time believing these people even like each other beyond wanting to have sex together.

The idea that the professor either has so many students he can’t remember their names without a cheat sheet or that he just doesn’t care to remember them makes Houseman’s character seem more evil than brilliant.

Aand James Naughton is starting to have his breakdown.  He failed his practice exams.  “Every damn exam”.  Dude, maybe law school isn’t for you?

I’m really not feeling the relationship between Bottoms and Wagner.

Okay, suddenly Timothy Bottoms’ hair is being blow dried out instead of curly.  Go back to curly.

So are we supposed to just know that he’s doing well in all his other classes even though he’s obsessing on contracts?

And now we’re back to curly hair.  Consistency, people, consistency.  Apparently, Lindsay Wagner doesn’t like the curls as much as I do.

I have a cousin who was born in the late 70s and named after Lindsay Wagner.  Except her name isn’t Lindsay, it’s Jaime.  This is what happens when you let your three year-old son name your daughter.

Okay, this Bell dude is a total dick.  If I was in a study group with him I’d probably shove his outline down his throat and suffocate him with it.

Everyone keeps leaving the study group.  They’re worse than my book club.

Ah, now James Naughton’s wife is pregnant.  Gun, pills, hanging, sliced wrists?  I should know this by now.

Hey, maybe he should become a bartender?

Crap, I think it’s coming.

Another old movie where the invention of the cell phone would have come in  handy.  Maybe Kevin wouldn’t have tried to kill himself if Hart showed up or at least called to say he was going to be late.

A gun.  He tried to use a gun?  A little disappointing they didn’t show it.  Glad he isn’t dead, though.

Hart didn’t show up at class.  Ooh, maybe John Houseman will make Bell cry.  Unfortunately, no.  Book closed, class over.

You know what is annoying, Lindsay Wagner?  It’s annoying when rich people talk to people who aren’t rich like we can relate.  “We used to own that house over there too but we sold it when grandfather died.  We used to shoot skeet from here.”  Really?  We only shot skeet at our summer home.

So she convinces him to try and out-dick her father.  “When I have something relevant to say, I shall raise my hand.”  Who would do this?  Especially someone so serious about wanting to become a lawyer?  Although I enjoyed him telling Kingsfield that he’s a son of a bitch.  Ooh, it’s one of those, I was honest and now you respect me moments?  Weak.

So Kevin officially left school.  There are only 3 out of 6 in the study group now.  Worst. Study. Group. Ever.

I never went to law school.  Do you applaud your professor on the final day?  “Thank you for making us miserable!”

Best moment of the film is Bell’s 800 page outline mistakenly getting tossed into the air by a panicking Bell.

Renting a hotel room to study away from all the panickers is believable.  And brilliant.

Graham Beckel is adorable with two days facial hair and his shaggy locks.

Hotel manager being a dick.  No water, no room service.  Just because they have papers strewn all around?  A bit excessive.

“The shipment of dope just came through and we’re holding his special brand.”  Hey, lawyers can be clever.

We’re back to straight hair for Bottoms.    I disapprove.  I’ll say this, though, as much as this is dragging, I actually care to find out what his grade is.

Great scene in the elevator between Hart and Kingsfield.  “What is your name?”  Burn.

I’m having difficulty seeing how Houseman won an Academy Award for his role, though.  Maybe I’m just cynical?

Girlfriend’s divorce is final and instead of opening his grades he turns the envelope into a paper airplane and flies it into the ocean.  I know this was in the book too…still blows my mind.   I’m too obsessive to do that.  I suppose that’s the point of the story…how he’s grown past that.

Good God I hate the way this film ended.  Why did I watch this again?

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