What’s the Best Movie about the University?

The Paper Chase (1973)

The Paper Chase (1973)

I asked the other day about your nominations for the best novel about the academy. What about movies? Here, I don’t have a clear choice for my pick. The Paper Chase comes to mind for a law school choice, as does the Marx Brothers’ Horse Feathers for sheer absurdity.

What are your choices?

(P. S. I apologize for the short post today. My power is out and I’m writing the from my phone. Ah, the miracles of modern life…)

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Micheal Hickerson

The former Associate Director for the Emerging Scholars Network, Micheal lives in Cincinnati with his wife and three children and works as a web manager for a national storage and organization company. He writes about work, vocation, and finding meaning in what you do at No Small Actors.

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  • hastings@rice.edu'
    Pat H commented on September 28, 2009 Reply

    Is “about the academy” different from “set in the academy”? Among my favorite movies are Good Will Hunting and A Beautiful Mind, yet neither is quite “about the academy”, though the latter might be argued as being so.

  • hannaheag@comcast.net'
    Hannah commented on September 28, 2009 Reply

    I’d vote for Wit. It isn’t exactly about the academy, but I think it has a lot to say about the perils of the academic life, and about what it can be at its best.


  • Thomas B. Grosh IV commented on September 28, 2009 Reply

    Loved watching “The Visitor” with grad students at a retreat on Hospitality. Is the film about higher education? Hmm. … I have too many to pick a best, b/c they speak to so many different aspects of higher education, yes to “Good Will Hunting” and “A Beautiful Mind.” How about “Animal House,” “The Big Chill,” “Dekalog 8: Thou Shalt Not Bear False Witness”? Gotta run. I’ll try to refine my list.

  • Thomas B. Grosh IV commented on December 9, 2009 Reply

    As my FB friends know I recently watched and really enjoyed Buster Keaton’s ‘College’ (1927). Check out the silent B&W film for free at http://www.archive.org/details/college

  • amywung@gmail.com'
    Amy commented on December 18, 2009 Reply

    I loved “The Visitor” as well, and respect “The Wit” although it’s too dark for me to ever watch again. Neither movie particularly puts life-as-a-professor in a good light do they? As a silly addition, how bout “The Absent-Minded Professor” or its remake “Flubber”?

  • hannaheag@comcast.net'
    Hannah commented on December 19, 2009 Reply

    I’d definitely agree that Wit is dark, and I couldn’t watch it often, but I think I will watch it again from time to time. But then, John Donne is one of my favorite poets, so I guess this means I have a high tolerance for gloom. 🙂

    I think it does present a grim view of the perils of the academy, but the main character’s mentor seems to me like a great example of what the academic life can be at its best. She knows her field inside out but also knows that literature connects to life and that living well helps a person to understand poetry and vice versa. And I love her reading of “The Runaway Bunny,” which is so simple but so invested with significance.

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