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Child's Play (1972)

James Mason , Robert Preston , Sidney Lumet  |  PG |  DVD
3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (34 customer reviews)

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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: 3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (34 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0089TQ6UC
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #279,477 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Special Features


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.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Dark, Forgotten Gem 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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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Mystery? Horror? Drama? Lumet! December 29, 2012
By Brian
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.
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20 of 28 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars In The Labyrinth Of Evil September 5, 2012
"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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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Superb suspense film...underrated December 24, 2012
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
I saw this film when it first came out, and marvelled then at the acting of James Mason, Robert Preston, and a young Beau Bridges. It has sufficient darkness and suspense, with a final dramatic climax, to attract and hold the attention of any fan of suspense and mystery film devotees, as well as those interested a bit of horror fantasy. I am delighted that Olive Films decided to put this out of DVD. For half the film you may sympathize with Preston, but slowly you begin to shift you attitude towards Mason...and then there is that shocking finale! Recommended.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars long live the classics.
They don't make movies like this anymore with superb acting, a real good story which is suspenseful and eerie. These are the classics. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Michelle Risquet
1.0 out of 5 stars Really wanted to like it
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. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Mahta Emrani
1.0 out of 5 stars One Star
Not very good. Couldn't stay awake.
Published 2 months ago by Amazon Customer
4.0 out of 5 stars CREEEEPY
I didn't think it was possible to be creeped out by Robert Preston or James Mason....I've always liked them both...shows how versatile they truly were, especially Preston. Read more
Published 2 months ago by Lahdw
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
My dad using this movie
Published 3 months ago by Paulo D.
4.0 out of 5 stars Beau Rocks It In Top Form!
Point one: this is a very good psychological thriller, full of clever plotting and well played intrigue. Read more
Published 4 months ago by Binky Chottorrhśhia
5.0 out of 5 stars Great old film !
Many spooky moments ! Good storyline good acting ! James mason is excellent ! I would have bought it had it been available to do so ! Please put it up for sale soon amazon ! Read more
Published 4 months ago by Sadcelticlady
4.0 out of 5 stars Robert Preston plays an evil version of "Music Man"
Great stuff. Most familiar with stylized wholesomeness of Robert Preston in "Music Man." Not familiar with Preston's body of work, but he was a great villain here.
Published 5 months ago by Katechopin
3.0 out of 5 stars Compelling though unbelievable:
The film based on a play was bizarre but gripping. Bizarre because the plot wasn't based on plausibility. Plots can be taken from life but that doesn't make them plausible. Read more
Published 5 months ago by Jacob Arnon
2.0 out of 5 stars Child's Play (HD)
This was just not my type of movie. It might be fine for someone else. I didn't think it was that well made.
Published 6 months ago by Kay Callander
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