School Ties

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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
Produced by
Screenplay by
Story byDick Wolf
StarringBrendan Fraser
Music byMaurice Jarre
CinematographyFreddie Francis
Edited by
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

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.


Set in the 1950s, School Ties tells the story of David Greene (Brendan Fraser), a working-class Jewish teenager from Scranton, Pennsylvania who 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) from well-to-do families 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, Dillon 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. After the exam, 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 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, Dillon accuses David. They fight until Van Kelt breaks it up and tells them to leave and leave it to the rest of the class to decide who's telling the truth. 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 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.



"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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