School Ties is a 1992 American sports-drama film directed by Robert Mandel and starring Brendan Fraser, Matt Damon, Ben Affleck, Chris O'Donnell, Cole Hauser, Randall Batinkoff, Andrew Lowery and Anthony Rapp. Fraser plays the lead role as David Greene, a Jewish high school student who is awarded an athletic scholarship to an elite preparatory school in his senior year.
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Robert Mandel|
|Produced by||Stanley R. Jaffe|
|Screenplay by||Darryl Ponicsan|
|Story by||Dick Wolf|
|Music by||Maurice Jarre|
|Distributed by||Paramount Pictures|
|September 18, 1992|
Set in the 1950s, David Greene (Brendan Fraser) is a working-class Jewish teenager from Scranton, Pennsylvania. He is given a football scholarship to an exclusive Massachusetts prep school for his senior year due to his grades and ability to play football. Upon his arrival, he meets his teammates Rip Van Kelt (Randall Batinkoff), Charlie Dillon (Matt Damon), Jack Connors (Cole Hauser), and his roommate Chris Reece (Chris O'Donnell) who are the big men on campus (the most well known and popular students) and learns of the school's cherished honor code system. Soon learning that his new friends are prejudiced against Jews, he suppresses his background.
David becomes the team hero and wins the attentions of beautiful débutante Sally Wheeler (Amy Locane), whom Dillon claims is his girlfriend. In the afterglow of a victory over the school's chief rival St. Luke's, Dillon inadvertently discovers that David is Jewish. Out of jealousy, Dillion makes this widely known, causing Sally and his teammates to turn against David. Soon after, he finds a sign above his bed bearing a swastika and the words "Go home Jew". David is constantly harassed by his classmates, led by Richard "McGoo" Collins (Anthony Rapp) and his bodyguard-like roommate Chesty Smith (Ben Affleck). Only Reece and another unnamed student remain loyal to Greene.
Overwhelmed by pressure from his prestigious family, Dillon uses a crib sheet to cheat in an important history exam. David and Van Kelt each spot him doing so, but remain silent. Dillon gets pushed while leaving class and drops the sheet on the floor after the test. When the teacher, Mr. Geirasch (Michael Higgins), discovers it, he informs the class that he will fail all of them if the cheater does not confess. He leaves the task of finding the cheater up to the students, led by Van Kelt, the head prefect.
When David confronts Dillon and threatens to turn him in if he does not confess, Dillon unsuccessfully attempts to buy David's silence with money. Just when David is about to reveal Dillon to the other students, Dillon accuses David. Both agree to leave and to trust the rest of the class to decide who is telling the truth. The majority of the class blame David out of anti-Semitic prejudice, while Reece, the unnamed student, and Connors, going against his own self-professed anti-Semitism, argue that it is unlike David to cheat or be dishonest. Despite this, the class votes that David is guilty, prompting Van Kelt to tell him to report to the elitist headmaster, Dr. Bartram (Peter Donat), to confess to cheating.
David goes to Bartram's office and says that he was the cheater. Unbeknownst to him, Van Kelt has already told the headmaster that the real offender was Dillon. Bartram tells David and Van Kelt that they should have reported the offense, but absolves them. Dillon is expelled. As David leaves the headmaster's office, he sees Dillon leaving the school. Dillon says that he will be accepted to Harvard anyway and that years later everybody will have forgotten about his cheating at school, while David will still just be a Jew. "And you'll still be a prick," David replies, and walks away.
- Brendan Fraser as David Greene
- Matt Damon as Charlie Dillon
- Chris O'Donnell as Chris Reece
- Randall Batinkoff as Rip Van Kelt, head prefect
- Cole Hauser as Jack Connors
- Andrew Lowery as "Mack" McGivern
- Ben Affleck as Chesty Smith
- Anthony Rapp as Richard "McGoo" Collins
- Amy Locane as Sally Wheeler
- Peter Donat as Headmaster Dr. Bartram
- Željko Ivanek as Mr. Cleary, French language teacher
- Kevin Tighe as Coach McDevitt, American football coach
- Michael Higgins as Mr. Gierasch, history teacher
- Ed Lauter as Alan Greene, David's father
- Peter McRobbie as Chaplain
The film received generally mixed reviews. The film has a 59% rating on Rotten Tomatoes based on 41 reviews. Roger Ebert found it "surprisingly effective", whereas Janet Maslin found it followed a "predictable path".
- "School Ties". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved December 27, 2011.
- Ebert, Roger (September 18, 1992). "School Ties". Chicago Sun-Times. Retrieved May 22, 2011.
- Maslin, Janet (September 18, 1992). "Religious Bigotry At a 1950's Prep School". The New York Times. Retrieved May 22, 2011.