LEGALLY BLONDE by
Over 30 years in the making--a
double feature on life as a new law student! However, Legally
Blonde (2001) is clearly not simply The Paper Chase 2
(1970). As depicted in The Paper Chase, Harvard Law School
is a forbidding place, suitable for entry only by those able
to disentangle the law's abstract paths. The Harvard Law School
of Legally Blonde is more accessible; all that even a
seeming airhead needs to succeed is a good heart and common sense.
Paper Chase's main protagonist is Hart, an intense law student
vainly hoping to impress the imperious Professor Kingsfield.
Legally Blonde's protagonist is Elle Woods, who enters
law school in order to impress her boyfriend. (The switch from
a male to a female protagonist is quite apt. Women were still
somewhat unusual in the law schools of the late '60's; today,
they commonly make up at least half of the student body.) Kingsfield
embodies the law's cold rationality, ignoring Hart after having
had him in class for a full year. Kingsfield could not exist
outside the law school world, and the law needs people like Kingsfield
to demonstrate its superiority to other ways of thinking.
Legally Blonde's Professors Callahan and Stromwell
lack Kingsfield's genius, but also his aloofness. Callahan maintains
a busy law practice and hires and then sexually harasses his
prize pupil. Stromwell gets her hair done and becomes a Woods
booster by the film's end. I'd rather go to Legally Blonde's
Harvard any day. Yet I'd want some Kingsfeldian touches so that
I could be sure that when I pullled the curtains aside, the legal
system wasn't just a contraption being operated by a phony wizard.
Posted: September 4, 2001