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Child's Play

41 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

A young teacher, Paul Reis (Beau Bridges) arrives at an exclusive Catholic boy's school that he had attended as young man. An outbreak of cult-like violence and brutality among the students has Reis perplexed. He suspects that one of the older professors in responsible for inciting the mayhem. Joe Dobbs (Robert Preston) is the easy-going, popular English instructor and Jerome Malley (James Mason) is the widely disliked and feared Latin and Greek teacher. Leon Prochnik adapted the evocative Robert Marasco play for the screen. Directed by the great Sidney Lumet, the director of Dog Day Afternoon and Network.

Special Features


Product Details

  • Actors: James Mason, Robert Preston, Beau Bridges, Ron Weyand, David Rounds
  • Directors: Sidney Lumet
  • Writers: Robert Marasco, Leon Prochnik
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Color, NTSC, Original recording remastered, Widescreen
  • Language: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: PG (Parental Guidance Suggested)
  • Studio: Olive Films
  • DVD Release Date: September 4, 2012
  • Run Time: 100 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (41 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0089TQ6UC
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #33,102 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

16 of 17 people found the following review helpful By PDC on January 4, 2013
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
I have long loved this little known and underrated study of the pervasive influence of evil within a Catholic boys school. Suspenseful, subtle and eerie, the film is primarily a showcase for the superb performance of Robert Preston, in fine form as the much loved teacher of English and Athletics, and the magnificent, Oscar worthy performance of James Mason as the very much UNloved teacher of Latin. But things are not neccesarily as they seem within the shadowy walls of this school or within this screenplay, adapted from the hit Broadway play by Robert Marasco. And if mood and atmosphere rather than blood-and-thunder-horror are your cup of hemlock then you should find 'Child's Play', beautifully directed by Sidney Lumet, a very satisfying brew indeed, at long last available on DVD. Unfortunately, unlike one of the other reviewers here, I never had the pleaseure of seeing the play, and with its original cast, to boot. But I, too, am an admirer of Fritz Weaver and Pat Hingle, and having only seen the film, I find it hard to imagine those two fine actors being much more chilling, effective, or moving than Preston and Mason. But I did have the very distinct pleasure of seeing James Mason on Broadway in Brian Friel's 'Faith Healer' and was blown away by the electrifying power of his performance. And he is no less effective in 'Child's Play'.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Brian on December 29, 2012
Format: DVD
The late, great, prolific Sidney Lumet was nothing if not full of surprises. He mastered nearly every genre he chanced through pure tenchnique, making smart storytelling and psychologically mature performances his hallmarks, and in the process produced a hatful of late-20th century classics: 'Network,' 'Serpico,' 'Dog Day Afternoon,' '12 Angry Men,' 'The Pawnbroker' and 'Murder on the Orient Express,' to name a few. 1972's 'Child's Play' falls comfortably in the second tier of his body of work, a notch below the aforementioned films, but well above his most famous misfires ('The Wiz,' 'Equus,' 'Critical Care'). The mood and photography are subtle and darkly alluring, and the script (based on the successful Broadway play) is properly enigmatic and astute given the subject and setting. What doesn't quite take hold is the overall tone of the thing: it teeters precariously between high (academic/theistic) drama-- as embodied by the wonderful scenery-chewing of James Mason and Robert Preston-- and the visceral mystery/horror playing out in nearly every other frame (into which a bemused Beau Bridges and the rest of the supporting cast appropriately fit), almost as though Lumet were unsure which to commit to (hint: he chooses both, to the effect of narrative dilution). Still, though not entirely satisfying, CP is a dense, nicely textured piece and another impressive feather in Lumet's sizeable cap. Movie earns just shy of 4 stars; Olive Films' presentation (clean anamorphic widescreen with no bonus features), 3 1/2.

I'm reading Lumet's autobiographical 'Making Movies' in which he makes the following candid observations about the filming of 'Child's Play':

'As a play, it had a spooky, theatrical effectiveness that worked.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Mahta Emrani on September 4, 2014
Format: Amazon Instant Video Verified Purchase
I really wanted to like this film. I am a big fan of Lumet, and think James Mason is brilliant. However there is something very much lacking in this film. It was neither thought provoking nor disturbing (even though it is meant to be both of those). I couldn't empathize with any of the characters, motivations were not clear, and it even felt a bit amateurish (dare I say). Granted, I am not an expert. The background music was overused and too loud. Sometimes music adds to the mood or becomes a character in the plot line. In this case, I am not exactly sure what role it was serving other than distract from everything else that was going on. The story concept is interesting but it fell flat for me. I may watch it again just in case I missed something or was in the wrong mindset when I saw it. But it is not one that I would recommend to others.
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22 of 30 people found the following review helpful By Shakespeare on September 5, 2012
Format: DVD
"Child's Play" was one of the most extraordinary mystery thrillers produced on Broadway in 1970. Since mine is the only review of this movie, produced as was the play by David Merrick, but directed by Sidney Lumet of film fame and not Joseph Hardy, who won the Tony for Best Director on Broadway. The play starred Fritz Weaver, Pat Hingle, and Ken Howard in roles taken in the film by James Mason, Robert Preston and Beau Bridges. In addition to director Joe Hardy, Fritz Weaver won the tony for Best Actor and Ken Howard for Best Supporting Actor. Curiously and unfairly in my opinion, based on seeing the play nearly a dozen times, Pat Hingle crafted a magnificently open, fiendishly sly characterization without which Fritz Weaver would have had nothing to play off. Their stage chemistry is the stuff of legend.

Unfortunately, movies want stars; movies expect rewrites to dumb down intellect, to objectify evil as violence, and to play to an audience with television attention span. So for stars we get James Mason, a fine actor who would no doubt have been excellent on stage with an actor of Pat Hingle's nuance, Robert Preston, the original Broadway Music Man who knows exactly how to translate his star power from stage to screen, and alas Beau Bridges as a pea-green imitation of Ken Howard's representation of the new teacher positioned midway between the boys and the teachers in a Catholic School; and Sidney Lumet, directing for mood rather than horror.

I would have to write "spoiler" all over this review to tell you anything about the plot except what the NY Times Critic, Mel Gussow, wrote in his NY Times's obituary for the author, Robert Marasco:

''Child's Play,'' an eerie melodrama about incidents of evil in a Roman Catholic boys' school, was a surprise success in 1970.
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