The Paper Chase (film)

1973 film by James Bridges

The Paper Chase is a 1973 film about a first-year law student at Harvard Law School who struggles with balancing his coursework and his relationship with the daughter of a stern professor.

Directed and written by James Bridges, based on the novel by John Jay Osborn.
You have to choose between the girl you love and the diploma you've worked for all your life. You have 30 seconds.(taglines)

James Hart

  • When I was in college, I had three roommates. One was genius, and one was crazy, and one was inconsequential, kept to himself. It was genius who told me about Kingsfield; first guy to tell me all about Kingsfield. He read an article by him in Life or Time or something called "Contracts in Our Daily Lives". Make a long story short, genius took the law school admissions test, but didn't score high enough to get into Harvard. Genius.

Professor Kingsfield

  • The study of law is something new and unfamiliar to most of you — unlike any other schooling you have ever known before... You teach yourselves the law, but I train your minds. You come in here with a skull full of mush; you leave thinking like a lawyer.

Susan Fields

  • I know there's a lot of things to say, but it really isn't worth saying them, so please just get out.
  • They finally got you, Hart, they sucked all that Midwestern charm right out of you. Look, he's got you scared to death. You're going to pass, because you're the kind the law school wants.


Professor Kingsfield: Mr. Hart, would you recite for us the facts of Hawkins versus McGee? [looks up] I do have your name right? You are "Mr. Hart"?
James Hart: [mumbles] Yes, my name's Hart.
Professor Kingsfield: You're not speaking loud enough, Mr. Hart. Will you speak up?
James Hart: Yes, my name's Hart.
Professor Kingsfield: Mr. Hart, you're still not speaking loud enough. Will you stand?

Toombs: Kingsfield drove him mad. He's driven a lot of lawyers mad over the past 40 years that he's been teaching here. I heard he ripped up a 1-L this morning so bad, the guy lost his breakfast.
James Hart: That's true. That was me.

Franklin Ford III: Damn good.
James Hart: It was a good answer - not a complete analysis, not a hard question - but the point is, I did it. I did it in Kingfield's class, this is a goddamn dance.

Anderson: I'm telling you, Hart, the worst thing you can do is get involved with a girl. By the very nature of time consuming.
Franklin Ford III: On the contrary, it's the best thing you can do. Nothing makes you hornier than studying.
Anderson: My father warned me about this...
Franklin Ford III: Oh, your father's full of shit.
Anderson: He says the celibate mind is stronger, retains more information. Third year, you can get laid all you want to.
Franklin Ford III: Look, the best thing to do in a mess like this is to find a woman who doesn't make any demands to hang on. Hang on like hell. You grab onto her boobs, and you don't let go.

James Hart: Why didn't you tell me you were Kingsfield's daughter?
Susan Fields: Well, I'm not his daughter very much. Why didn't you call me?
James Hart: Wait a minute. You were the one who left me in the park. Why didn't you call me?
Susan Fields: I knew I'd see you here today.
James Hart: You lied to me, Susan. You said that your last name was Fields.
Susan Fields: My last name is Fields. I'm married.

William Moss: So you flunked all your practice exams, huh? Every one?
Kevin Brooks: Yeah, every one.
William Moss: Aww man, don't look like that, you'll be saved. Every person in this house almost flunked out of law school in their first year. It's not hard to see why; they had broads on the brain. It's the worst thing that can happen to a first-year law student. I don't suppose that's your problem?
Kevin Brooks: No, no. I'm married.
William Moss: Well, the vote's split on that, but I've saved all kinds. I moved in here and saved all these dum-dums. They'll all graduate, all from Harvard. Did you bring any samples of your work?
Kevin Brooks: Yeah, I brought some notes...
William Moss: Notes don't mean a thing.

James Hart: I found something. There's a room above the stacks that have all the professors' old notes from when they were law students here. They're just sitting there waiting. I want to see the notes... I want to see Kingsfield's notes on contracts.
Franklin Ford III: Oh no, I know what you're thinking. [shakes head] Uh-uh.

Professor Kingsfield: Mr. Hart, here's a dime. Call your mother, and tell her there is serious doubt about you becoming a lawyer.
James Hart: [pause, as he is leaving the room] You... are a SON OF A BITCH, Kingsfield.
Professor Kingsfield: Mr. Hart! That is the most intelligent thing you've said today. You may take your seat.

Hotel manager: Oh my God. What have you been doing in this room? I just had this room decorated. I'm calling the police.
Franklin Ford III: If you kick us out, I swear to God I'll sue your Goddamn hotel for a million dollars. I'll burn it to the ground!
James Hart: Look, I know that the piece of paper we signed down there allows you to kick us out. But if you do that, I'm going to go to the newspapers. And I'm going to tell them that we're a dope ring running through this hotel. Yeah, I'm going to tell them that, and you're not going to get any more business. Now shut up, and get out!


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