School Ties (1992)

PG-13 | 110 mins | Drama | 18 September 1992

Director:

Robert Mandel

Cinematographer:

Freddie Francis

Production Designer:

Jeannine Claudia Oppewall

Production Company:

Paramount
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HISTORY

       A 4 Nov 1990 LAT news item announced that after his directorial debut on 1983’s Without a Trace (see entry), producer Stanley R. Jaffe would direct his second film, School Ties, which had been in development for eight years. A 17-23 Sep 1992 Hollywood Drama-Logue article attributed the original idea to screenwriter Dick Wolf, and stated that the story was based on the personal experiences of Wolf and co-screenwriter Darryl Ponicsan. Although a 5 Mar 1991 DV brief stated that Jaffe and producer Sherry Lansing were in the final stages of casting, Jaffe’s departure as director was noted in a 22 Apr 1991 DV article, which announced Jaffe’s new position as Paramount Pictures’ president and chief operating officer, starting in Mar 1991. Jaffe stayed on as producer, and Robert Mandel was named director of School Ties, which was set to begin filming 23 Aug 1991.
       Robert Mandel and Sherry Lansing began testing actors on 4 Jun 1991, as noted in a DV item of the same date. Chris O’Donnell and Matt Damon were both considered for the role of “David Greene” before they were cast in different parts, while Christian Slater, one of the few well-known actors considered for the lead, was reportedly not interested. Brendan Fraser did not audition until three weeks before the shoot. Because he was a lesser-known actor, Fraser had to perform in two screen tests before Paramount signed off on him. A former preparatory school student himself, Fraser took inspiration for the role of David Greene from his days at Upper Canada College Preparatory School, where ... More Less

       A 4 Nov 1990 LAT news item announced that after his directorial debut on 1983’s Without a Trace (see entry), producer Stanley R. Jaffe would direct his second film, School Ties, which had been in development for eight years. A 17-23 Sep 1992 Hollywood Drama-Logue article attributed the original idea to screenwriter Dick Wolf, and stated that the story was based on the personal experiences of Wolf and co-screenwriter Darryl Ponicsan. Although a 5 Mar 1991 DV brief stated that Jaffe and producer Sherry Lansing were in the final stages of casting, Jaffe’s departure as director was noted in a 22 Apr 1991 DV article, which announced Jaffe’s new position as Paramount Pictures’ president and chief operating officer, starting in Mar 1991. Jaffe stayed on as producer, and Robert Mandel was named director of School Ties, which was set to begin filming 23 Aug 1991.
       Robert Mandel and Sherry Lansing began testing actors on 4 Jun 1991, as noted in a DV item of the same date. Chris O’Donnell and Matt Damon were both considered for the role of “David Greene” before they were cast in different parts, while Christian Slater, one of the few well-known actors considered for the lead, was reportedly not interested. Brendan Fraser did not audition until three weeks before the shoot. Because he was a lesser-known actor, Fraser had to perform in two screen tests before Paramount signed off on him. A former preparatory school student himself, Fraser took inspiration for the role of David Greene from his days at Upper Canada College Preparatory School, where he recalled “feeling like an outsider.”
       The budget was roughly $18 million, as cited in Hollywood Drama-Logue. Three weeks of rehearsal preceded principal photography, which began 3 Sep 1991 in Acton, MA. There, a “full working studio with production offices and two sound stages” was built at the former Diamond Health Club, according to production notes in AMPAS library files. In nearby Concord, MA, The Middlesex School, founded in 1901, stood in for “St. Matthew’s Preparatory School.” Worcester Academy in Worcester, MA, was used for the “Overbrook Girls’ School,” and “Headmaster Dr. Bartram’s” office was filmed at Saint Mark’s School in Southborough, MA. Other locations included The Blue Bird diner in Gardner, MA, which doubled as “Skip’s Diner”; The Lanam Club in Andover, MA, where the celebratory dinner held by “Grayson Dillon” was filmed; and the eighty-seven-year-old Dana’s Luncheonette and Candy Store in Lowell, MA, which stood in for a Scranton, PA, luncheonette. Massachusetts filming ended on 5 Nov 1991, and the final three days of principal photography took place in Bethlehem, PA, which stood in for Scranton, and at the Jeddo Seven coal yards outside Hazelton, PA.
       A Los Angeles, CA, premiere took place on 11 Sep 1992 at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, according to a 15 Sep 1992 DV “Just for Variety” column.
       Critical reception was mixed. Reviewers frequently compared the film to 1989’s Dead Poets Society (see entry), which was more commercially successful than School Ties. In a 30 Oct 1992 article, the LAT referred to School Ties as a disappointment, reporting its box-office earnings, to date, as $12,589,297.
      End credits include the following statement: “The producers wish to thank: Middlesex School of Concord, Massachusetts; Pagnotti Enterprises of W. Pittson, Pennsylvania; Saint Mark’s School of Southborough, Massachusetts; Worcester Academy of Worcester, Massachusetts; The City of Lowell, Massachusetts; The City of Bethlehem, Pennsylvania; The Pennsylvania Film Bureau; Massachusetts Film Office; Marie Stultz conducting members of the Treble Chorus of New England and The Buckingham Browne and Nichols School; Radisson Heritage Hotel – Jim Dina, Manager; Hughes Restaurant – Lowell, Massachusetts.”
More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Daily Variety
5 Mar 1991.
---
Daily Variety
22 Apr 1991
p. 1, 8.
Daily Variety
4 Jun 1991.
---
Daily Variety
24 Dec 1991.
---
Daily Variety
15 Sep 1992.
---
Daily Variety
25 Feb 1998.
---
Hollywood Drama-Logue
17-23 Sep 1992.
---
Hollywood Reporter
15 Sep 1992
p. 6, 76.
Los Angeles Times
30 Oct 1992
Section D, p. 1.
Los Angeles Times
4 Nov 1990
Calendar, p. 22.
Los Angeles Times
18 Sep 1992
Calendar, p. 10.
New York Times
18 Sep 1992
Section C, p. 19.
Variety
14 Sep 1992
pp. 46-47.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXTS
Paramount Pictures Presents
A Jaffe/Lansing Production
A Robert Mandel Film
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Unit prod mgr
1st asst dir
1st asst dir
2d asst dir
2d unit dir
2d 2d asst dir
DGA trainee
PRODUCERS
Assoc prod
Exec prod
WRITERS
Scr
Story
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
Cam op
1st asst photog
"B" cam op
"B" cam 1st asst photog
2d asst photog
Chief lighting tech
Asst chief lighting tech
Elec lighting tech
Elec lighting tech
Elec lighting tech
Elec lighting tech
Elec lighting tech
1st company grip
2d company grip
Dolly grip
Grip
Still photog
Still photog
Dailies by
ART DIRECTORS
Art dir
FILM EDITORS
1st asst ed
Asst ed
Asst ed
Apprentice ed
Negative cutter
SET DECORATORS
Set des
Prop master
Asst prop master
Asst prop master
Lead person
Swing gang
Swing gang
Swing gang
Swing gang
Scenic painter
Scenic painter
Scenic painter
Scenic painter
Scenic painter
Const coord
Const coord
Const foreperson
Carpenter
Carpenter
Carpenter
Carpenter
Carpenter
Carpenter
Carpenter
Carpenter
COSTUMES
Cost des
Asst cost des
Ward supv
Ward supv
MUSIC
Mus comp and cond
Asst mus ed
Asst to Maurice Jarre
Mus preparation
Orch contractor
Mus scoring mixer
Mus score rec
Mus prod set supv
SOUND
Sd mixer
Boom op
Cable person
Supv sd ed
Sd ed
Supv ADR ed
ADR ed
ADR ed
Supv foley ed
Foley ed
Asst sd ed
Asst sd ed
Re-rec mixer
Re-rec mixer
Re-rec mixer
ADR mixer
Foley mixer
Foley artist
Foley artist
Foley artist
Dolby Stereo consultant
VISUAL EFFECTS
Main and end titles des and prod
MAKEUP
Makeup artist
Asst makeup artist
Hairstylist
Asst hairstylist
PRODUCTION MISC
Casting
Casting
Scr supv
Picture cars
Football coord
Football coord
Extras casting by
Casting asst
Casting asst
Unit pub
Pub consultant
Prod office coord
Prod office coord
Asst prod office coord
Prod accountant
Asst prod accountant
Asst accountant payroll
Post prod accountant
Asst to Mr. Mandel
Voice casting
Loc mgr
Craft services
Craft services
Transportation coord
Transportation capt
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
STAND INS
Stunt coord
COLOR PERSONNEL
Col timer
SOURCES
SONGS
“Ain’t That A Shame,” by Dave Bartholomew & Antoine Domino, performed by Fats Domino, courtesy of EMI Records Group/EMI Records by arrangement with CEMA Special Markets
“Let Me Go Lover,” by Jenny Lou Carson, Kathleen G. Twomey, Fred Wise, & Benjamin Weisman, performed by Patti Page, courtesy of Polygram Special Products by arrangement with Polygram Group Distribution, Inc.
“Smokey Joe’s Café,” by Jerry Leiber & Mike Stoller, performed by The Robins, courtesy of Atlantic Recording Corp. by arrangement with Warner Special Products
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SONGS
“Ain’t That A Shame,” by Dave Bartholomew & Antoine Domino, performed by Fats Domino, courtesy of EMI Records Group/EMI Records by arrangement with CEMA Special Markets
“Let Me Go Lover,” by Jenny Lou Carson, Kathleen G. Twomey, Fred Wise, & Benjamin Weisman, performed by Patti Page, courtesy of Polygram Special Products by arrangement with Polygram Group Distribution, Inc.
“Smokey Joe’s Café,” by Jerry Leiber & Mike Stoller, performed by The Robins, courtesy of Atlantic Recording Corp. by arrangement with Warner Special Products
“When I Take My Sugar To Tea,” by Sammy Fain, Irving Kahal, & Pierre Norman, performed by Les Elgart, courtesy of Columbia Records by arrangement with Sony Music Licensing
“Fight For St. Matthews,” by John E. Oliver, Lou Forestieri, & Bill Bruton
“Three Coins In The Fountain,” by Sammy Cahn & Jule Styne
“Rock Around The Clock,” by Jimmy DeKnight & Max Friedman
“Earth Angel,” by Dootsie Williams
“Dolores,” by Frank Loesser & Louis Alter
“Love Me,” written & produced by Jerry Leiber & Mike Stoller, performed by Willie & Ruth, courtesy of Lester Sill
“The Charge,” by John E. Oliver & Lou Forestieri
“That Old Black Magic,” by Johnny Merger & Harold Arlen
“Isn’t It Romantic,” by Richard Rodgers & Lorenz Hart
“To Each His Own,” by Jay Livingston & Ray Evans.
+
PERFORMERS
+
DETAILS
Release Date:
18 September 1992
Premiere Information:
Los Angeles premiere: 11 September 1992
Los Angeles and New York openings: 18 September 1992
Production Date:
3 September--early November 1991
Copyright Claimant:
Paramount Pictures Corporation
Copyright Date:
9 October 1992
Copyright Number:
PA593491
Physical Properties:
Sound
Dolby Stereo ® in Selected Theatres
Color
Lenses
Filmed with Panavision® cameras & lenses
Prints
Prints by Deluxe
Duration(in mins):
110
MPAA Rating:
PG-13
Country:
United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
31310
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

In 1950s Scranton, Pennsylvania, Jewish teenager David Greene says goodbye to his father, Alan, a coal yard worker. David, a high school senior, is on his way to St. Matthew’s, an elite preparatory school in Cabot, Massachusetts, that has recruited him to play football. Alan Greene hopes his son will take advantage of the St. Matthew’s scholarship, and gain admittance to Harvard University. When David arrives in Cabot, he is met by Coach McDevitt, who warns that the other seniors will be curious about him, and he discourages the boy from revealing too much about himself. David meets his well-bred roommate, Chris Reece, and Chris’s friends: Rip Van Kelt, Jack Connors, Charlie Dillon, and “Mack” McGivern. Charlie Dillon taunts David about his football scholarship, but when David calls him a “prick,” Charlie reveals that he had hopes of being quarterback before David was recruited. At chapel, David remains mum as his classmates sing Protestant hymns and recite the Lord’s Prayer. Headmaster Dr. Bartram gives a speech about the importance of the school’s code of honor, and states that the country’s elite class should care more about honor and service than personal gain. Back at the dorm, the boys listen to a rhythm and blues song on Mack McGivern’s hi-fi radio, and Mack comments that he bought the radio for a bargain price after “Jewing down” the salesman. Realizing his classmates are uniformly anti-Semitic, David removes his Star of David necklace and hides it in a sock drawer before joining everyone else in the showers. Later, he telephones his father, who reminds him that Saturday is Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year. Alan urges David to ... +


In 1950s Scranton, Pennsylvania, Jewish teenager David Greene says goodbye to his father, Alan, a coal yard worker. David, a high school senior, is on his way to St. Matthew’s, an elite preparatory school in Cabot, Massachusetts, that has recruited him to play football. Alan Greene hopes his son will take advantage of the St. Matthew’s scholarship, and gain admittance to Harvard University. When David arrives in Cabot, he is met by Coach McDevitt, who warns that the other seniors will be curious about him, and he discourages the boy from revealing too much about himself. David meets his well-bred roommate, Chris Reece, and Chris’s friends: Rip Van Kelt, Jack Connors, Charlie Dillon, and “Mack” McGivern. Charlie Dillon taunts David about his football scholarship, but when David calls him a “prick,” Charlie reveals that he had hopes of being quarterback before David was recruited. At chapel, David remains mum as his classmates sing Protestant hymns and recite the Lord’s Prayer. Headmaster Dr. Bartram gives a speech about the importance of the school’s code of honor, and states that the country’s elite class should care more about honor and service than personal gain. Back at the dorm, the boys listen to a rhythm and blues song on Mack McGivern’s hi-fi radio, and Mack comments that he bought the radio for a bargain price after “Jewing down” the salesman. Realizing his classmates are uniformly anti-Semitic, David removes his Star of David necklace and hides it in a sock drawer before joining everyone else in the showers. Later, he telephones his father, who reminds him that Saturday is Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year. Alan urges David to go to temple, but David replies that his first football game is that day. On Rosh Hashanah, David leads the St. Matthews team to victory, then sneaks into the chapel, dons a yarmulke, and recites Jewish prayers until Headmaster Bartram interrupts. Bartram reprimands David for coming into the chapel after dark, but acknowledges that David sacrificed his traditions for the football team and offers to overlook the infraction. When Mack McGivern performs poorly in Mr. Cleary’s French class, and Charlie Dillon is unable to answer questions in Mr. Gierasch’s history class, the boys fret about their chances of getting into their preferred Ivy League schools. David reassures Mack that there are other schools comparable to Princeton University, prompting Mack to explain that he is a “legacy” who hails from a long line of Princeton graduates. Likewise, Charlie Dillon must follow in his father’s footsteps to Harvard, although others tease him about the Jews and Communists known to go there. David asks how Charlie would know if someone were Jewish, and Charlie replies that it is “hard to miss a Hebe.” The St. Matthew’s boys attend a dance with students from the Overbrook Girls’ School. There, David notices Charlie dancing with a beautiful blonde named Sally Wheeler. Finding Sally alone during a slow song, David asks her to dance. Sally informs him that Charlie is an old friend but nothing more. David tells her she is beautiful, and she returns the compliment, but Charlie cuts in and resumes dancing with Sally. Back at school, Mr. Cleary ridicules Mack during a French recitation. That night, Mack disappears and the boys find him in Mr. Cleary’s darkened classroom, mumbling through his recitation. As Mack is carried away in an ambulance, David yells at Mr. Cleary for causing the boy’s nervous breakdown. Charlie discourages David from threatening Cleary, reminding him that good grades and admittance to the right college will give them “the keys to the kingdom.” Charlie recalls that a St. Matthew’s senior once committed suicide when he did not get into Harvard. David claims he would never take his own life over something so trivial, and Charlie says he envies David, who does not have to live up to anyone’s expectations. Sally Wheeler telephones David, and they arrange to meet at Skip’s Diner. There, David regales her with stories of hardscrabble life in Scranton, and she notes how different he is from other boys. When they part ways at the bus stop, she kisses him on the cheek. They see each other again at a tailgate party before the football game against St. Matthew’s leading rival, St. Luke’s. Hoping to impress his father, Grayson Dillon, and brother, Grayson “Gray” Dillon, III, Charlie urges David to pass him the football, despite Coach McDevitt’s instructions to do otherwise. David complies with Charlie’s requests, but when Charlie fails multiple times, David uses him as a shield in order to score the game-winning touchdown himself. The Dillons celebrate the win with Sally Wheeler and her family at a country club. David joins them for dinner, and dances with Sally when Grayson, Sr., asks for time alone with Charlie. After receiving a conciliatory speech from his father, Charlie finds David and Sally outside and tries to pull Sally away. Sally rejects Charlie, however, and he goes to the bar. As David and Sally kiss, Charlie overhears a St. Luke’s alumnus joking that their football team would never accept David because he is a Jew. Back at the dorm, the football players shower together and bask in their win. Charlie announces that the joke is on them because David is a Jew. He calls David a “kike,” and David attacks him. David returns to his dorm room and puts on his Star of David. He confronts his roommate, Chris Reece, who accuses David of lying and claims that everything about Jews is different. David is ostracized by Chris and the rest of the group, and the next day, finds a banner hanging above his bed with a Swastika and the message, “Go home Jew.” David challenges whoever made the banner, but no one comes forth. He goes to Sally’s swim practice, and confronts her about avoiding his calls. She admits her friends have been teasing her and breaks up with him. The night before final exams, Charlie Dillon makes a “crib sheet” to use during Mr. Gierasch’s history test. After the exam, Gierasch finds the crib sheet on the floor and announces to the class that he will fail everyone if the boy who cheated does not come forth. David finds Charlie and reveals that he saw him cheating. However, Charlie refuses to confess. Instead, he tells the other boys that David cheated. David denies it, and the boys decide to vote on the matter. As they deliberate, Chris and Jack Connors defend David, while others make anti-Semitic comments and claim he cannot be trusted. David receives more votes than Charlie, and agrees to turn himself in to Headmaster Bartram, but maintains his innocence. Arriving at Bartram’s office, David sees Rip Van Kelt is also there. Rip discloses that he saw Charlie cheat. Bartram apologizes to David for the debacle, and informs him that Charlie will be expelled. Having grown cynical about St. Matthew’s “traditions,” David comments that as long as the school is using him for football, he plans to use it to get into Harvard. On his way out, he sees Charlie Dillon being driven away. Charlie tells David that he will still get into Harvard, and this incident will be forgotten in ten years, but David will still be a Jew. David responds that Charlie will still be a “prick” and walks away. +

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Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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