School Ties is a 1992 American sports-drama film directed by Robert Mandel and starring Brendan Fraser, Matt Damon, Chris O'Donnell, Randall Batinkoff, Andrew Lowery, Cole Hauser, Ben Affleck, 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.

School Ties
The theatrical release poster for School Ties, showing the main character, David Greene, with the film's tagline above.
Theatrical release poster
Directed byRobert Mandel
Screenplay by
Story byDick Wolf
Produced by
StarringBrendan Fraser
CinematographyFreddie Francis
Edited by
Music byMaurice Jarre
Jaffe/Lansing Production
Distributed byParamount Pictures
Release date
  • September 11, 1992 (1992-09-11) (United States)
Running time
110 minutes
CountryUnited States
Budget$18 million
Box office$14.7 million


In the Autumn of 1955, working-class Jewish teenager David Greene (Brendan Fraser), from Scranton, Pennsylvania, receives a football scholarship to an exclusive Massachusetts prep school for his senior year due to his grades and ability to play football. Upon 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), the most well known and popular students who are from well-to-do families, and learns of the school's cherished honor code system. Soon learning that his new friends are antisemites, he suppresses his background.

David becomes the team hero and attracts beautiful débutante Sally Wheeler (Amy Locane), whom Dillon claims is his girlfriend. After a victory over the school's chief rival St. Luke's, Dillon inadvertently discovers David's Judaism. Out of jealousy, Dillon sensationalizes this, 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's classmates, led by Richard "McGoo" Collins (Anthony Rapp) and his bodyguard-like roommate Chesty Smith (Ben Affleck), constantly harass him, with only Reece and another unnamed student remaining loyal.

Overwhelmed by pressure from his prestigious family, Dillon uses a crib sheet to cheat in an important history exam. David and Van Kelt spot him doing so, but keep quiet. After the exam, Dillon gets pushed while leaving class and drops the sheet on the floor. When the teacher, Mr. Geirasch (Michael Higgins), discovers it, he informs the class that he will fail all of them if the cheater keeps silent. He instructs the students, led by Van Kelt, the head prefect, to find the cheat.

When David confronts Dillon and threatens to turn him in if he does not confess, Dillon tells him about his pressure, apologizes for his actions against him and unsuccessfully attempts to buy David's silence with money. Just when David is about to reveal Dillon to the other students as the cheat, Dillon accuses David. They fight until Van Kelt breaks it up and tells them to leave and let the rest of the class decide who is being honest. Both agree to do so. 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 lie. Despite this, the class votes to convict David, 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 incident, while David will still just be a Jew. "And you'll still be a prick," David replies, and walks away.



"Scranton, Penn. Bus Depot" decal in the window of a former train station in Leominster, used for filming a scene

The scene at the bus depot in Scranton, Pennsylvania, was filmed at a liquor store (the former train station) in Leominster, Massachusetts. The scene shot at Skip's Blue Moon Diner was filmed in downtown Gardner, Massachusetts. Most of the movie was filmed on location at Middlesex School in Concord, Massachusetts. In addition, Groton School, Worcester Academy, Lawrence Academy at Groton and St. Mark's School (all area prep schools) were also involved in the filming. Opening scenes are of the south and west sides of Wyandotte Street (Route 378 heading north), the Bethlehem Steel Plant and Zion Lutheran Church from the top of the graveyard looking northwest to 4th Street in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. The opening credits scene showing the Mobile Station, Chip's Diner and the Roxy Theatre were filmed on Main Street in Northampton, Pennsylvania. The scene in the opening credits in front of Dana's Luncheonette and some scenes inside were filmed in Lowell, Massachusetts.[1] The middle dinner and dancing scene was filmed at the Lanam Club in Andover, Massachusetts.


The film received generally mixed reviews. The film has a 60% rating on Rotten Tomatoes based on 40 reviews.[2] Roger Ebert found it "surprisingly effective",[3] whereas Janet Maslin found it followed a "predictable path".[4]


  1. ^ Picture it: Lowell goes to the Movies. Retrieved September 19, 2011.
  2. ^ "School Ties". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved December 27, 2011.
  3. ^ Ebert, Roger (September 18, 1992). "School Ties". Chicago Sun-Times. Retrieved May 22, 2011.
  4. ^ Maslin, Janet (September 18, 1992). "Religious Bigotry At a 1950's Prep School". The New York Times. Retrieved May 22, 2011.

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