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Child's Play

3.4 out of 5 stars 42 customer reviews

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(Sep 04, 2012)
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Editorial Reviews

Two teachers breed violence at a boys boarding school, with a gym teacher in the middle. Directed by Sidney Lumet.

Special Features

None.

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 (42 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0089TQ6UC
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #95,007 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

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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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.
Read more ›
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Format: Amazon 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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Format: Amazon Video Verified Purchase
Point one: this is a very good psychological thriller, full of clever plotting and well played intrigue.
Point two: This is part of a huge lifetime opus of Sidney Lumet's work that I am only beginning to savor and enjoy. Am I lucky or what?
And the main point: Why isn't Beau Bridges in every movie all the time.
Yes you love his brother Jeff. We all love Jeff. But the secret is if the two decided to have a charisma-off, Beau would just stand there and smile and he would win, hands down.
I could watch three hours of Brau Bridges chuckling and grinning and lounging around with Robert Preston as the affable Dobbs and feel like it was time well spent. I'm transported back to a more civilized era.
And the add James Mason casting shadows and angst everywhere and you've got yourself a show.
And if you ever want to see that magic in action, this movie should be the first place you go. Tha man does gymnastics for crying out loud, in slacks and a tie and without missing a beat!

Please enjoy!
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Format: Blu-ray Verified Purchase
This is an Olive Blu-ray release. Nothing special was done for restoration. The source film used for the transfer was in decent condition, but some minor debris, pits, and scratches are evident occasionally throughout. I didn't notice any major damage or defects. Audio is what would be expected in a lower budget film from its era, and as with the film. Nothing special was done to enhance it but there aren't any major flaws with it either. With a larger size TV (46" and up) and a decent home theater sound system, the video and audio are what you would likely have gotten in the average movie theater after the film had been run through the projectors a number of times. A bare bones Blu-ray, there are no "Extras" and I'm not certain there would be any directly related to this specific Lumet movie given its age and that it's one of his lesser works. Overall rating reflects the movie much more than the Blu-ray video or audio quality which is acceptable, but nothing to brag about.

Sidney Lumet's directorial filmography is lengthy, starting with 12 Angry Men, with some films more successful than others. Also a stage play director, he has adapted a number of stage plays to film. Among them are this lesser known little pearl of a thriller. It shows in the limited number of sets and greater emphasis on dialog versus action, making it a cerebral psychological thriller. The principal actors, Robert Preston, James Mason and Beau Bridges turn in excellent performances (Preston and Mason with the larger roles in particular). The setting is a Roman Catholic parochial boarding school for high school age boys. There has been an ongoing, growing feud between two long-time teachers, Joe Dobbs (Preston) and Jerome Malley (Mason), who are the Junior and Senior Deans, respectively.
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