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Child's Play (1972)

At an exclusive boys' school, a new gym teacher is drawn into a feud between two older instructors, and he discovers that everything at the school is not quite as staid, tranquil and harmless as it seems.

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
...
...
Ron Weyand ...
Father Mozian
...
Father Griffin
David Rounds ...
Kate Harrington ...
Mrs. Carter
Jamie Alexander ...
Sheppard
Brian Chapin ...
O'Donnell
Bryant Fraser ...
Jennings
Mark Hall Haefeli ...
Wilson
Tom Leopold ...
Shea
Julius Lo Iacono ...
McArdle
Christopher Man ...
Travis
...
Banks
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Storyline

Paul Reis returns to the exclusive Catholic prep school he graduated from nine years earlier as a gym teacher. He is reunited with his former mentor and English teacher, the affable and gregarious Joseph Dobbs, the most popular member of the faculty and advisor to the junior class, and Jerome Malley, a strict disciplinarian and teacher of classical languages, whose old-fashioned methods make him heartily disliked by his pupils. Reis finds himself caught in between the two men in a struggle for the hearts, minds, and souls of the boys. Malley, nicknamed "Lash" by his students has ruled out retirement, and Dobbs, who feels that Malley has lost touch with the students, hopes to inherit the senior class. Even though Malley's mother is dying an agonizing death from cancer, the Latin and Greek teacher refuses to surrender his position as head of the senior class to a man whose motives he questions. The tensions on the faculty are mirrored in the student body, which has endured a rash of ... Written by duke1029@aol.com

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

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You only lose once.


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PG | See all certifications »
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1 June 1973 (Ireland)  »

Also Known As:

Den dödliga leken  »

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1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Pat Hingle, Fritz Weaver and Ken Howard played the Preston, Mason, and Bridges roles on Broadway. Both Weaver and Howard won Tonysfor their work. David Rounds recreated his role from the Broadway production. The play ran 342 performances. See more »

Quotes

Joseph Dobbs: [to his juniors] If you don't trust kids, don't become teachers. If you're afraid of kids, get out of the business of running schools!
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Connections

Referenced in By Sidney Lumet (2015) See more »

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User Reviews

 
Harold Hill meets Mr. Chips
8 November 2012 | by (Buffalo, New York) – See all my reviews

Apparently at this exclusive Catholic prep school even the civilian teachers have to be officially celibate. In Child's Play the focus of the film is on an intense rivalry between a pair of civilian teachers who have no outside attachments, save for James Mason and his dying mother. So they indulge in this rivalry for the approval of the students. And Robert Preston who dusts off a bit of his Harold Hill persona from The Music Man is winning hands down.

Child's Play, a David Merrick Production on stage ran 342 performances during the 1970 season and starred Pat Hingle and Fritz Weaver in the roles that Preston and Mason essay here. Preston is a charmer as Professor Harold Hill was, but his charm is laced with malevolence. For reasons I'm not sure whether for money or prestige Preston turns the students against Mason, he wants Mason out to move up in some kind of seniority system.

Mason makes it real easy. A stiff demanding pedagogue he's Mr. Chips before Robert Donat's marriage to Greer Garson humanized him. He's way past the age of retirement, but other than a terminally ill mother this guy has no life. Going to teach gives him an excuse to get up in the morning.

Both these guys are a pair of real closet cases. Both are obsessed with the young male preppy kids they teach, Mason just does not know how to relate to them. Preston does and he uses his influence with them to produce some terrible consequences.

Caught in the middle of all this is new gym teacher Beau Bridges who once went to this school. He knows both men from his years there, but learns a whole lot more once he becomes a faculty member and learns disturbing stuff about both.

Child's Play is smartly directed and photographed by Sidney Lumet. Pay attention to some of the deep focus cinematography involving all three of the players I've named in joint scenes. All three register facial expressions that help move the story along immensely.

I think a lot was left out of the play coming over from Broadway, but still Child's Play is a fine film with great performances from the leads.


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