Film / School Ties
Retroactive Recognition all over the place.

School Ties is a 1992 film about anti-Semitism in a 1950s prep school, directed by Robert Mandel and co-scripted by Dick Wolf.

The film has mostly been forgotten (outside of tolerance education classes), and is probably best known now for being the originator of an extremely obscure Family Guy homage. Despite the film's relative obscurity, it does have the distinction of being one of Brendan Fraser's first leading roles, his first dramatic leading role, one of Matt Damon's first leading roles, and the film in which Matt Damon and Ben Affleck met each other.

The plot concerns David Greene (Brendan Fraser), whose football skills earn him a scholarship at an extremely prestigious— and unthinkingly conservative— preparatory school in the early 1950s. David must keep his Judaism secret while he grapples with the class differences between him and his new peers.

This film provides examples of:

  • Absurdly Powerful Student Council: David's fate is left in the hands of a student council biased against him. However, several characters seem aware of this, David included.
  • Ambiguously Jewish: Though he was obviously Jewish from the start to the audience, David may have come across this way to his fellow students.
  • All Jews Are Cheapskates: David's Berserk Button.
  • Berserk Button: David is generally a nice, polite, studious and even-tempered guy, until you make Jew jokes or threaten his friends. This is kind of scary, given that it's not unbelievable at all that David (played by an even then 6-foot-tall Brendan Fraser) is a quarterback.
  • Boarding School: Yep.
  • Colonel Bogey March: Used to harass David.
  • Diner Brawl: David gets into one with some motorcycle punks at the start of the film, which serves as an Establishing Character Moment for him.
  • Elaborate University High: St. Matthew's certainly qualifies. Lampshaded by David as he's driven through it for the first time.
    David: Jesus Christ, this is a high school?!
    Coach: It's your high school now.
  • The '50s: Yes indeed.
  • Greedy Jew: Jokes are made to this extent in David's presence; he tries to ignore them with middling success. Given he's also the Token Working-Class student, it makes even less sense.
  • Insult Backfire: The ending
    Charlie: You know something? I'm still gonna get into Harvard. And in 10 years no one will remember any of this. But you'll still be a goddamn Jew.
    David: And you'll still be a prick.
  • Ivy League for Everyone: St. Matthew's is a feeder school for the Ivy League, and a few characters are mentioned to be multi-generational legacies at Harvard, Yale, and Princeton.
  • Nice Jewish Boy: David Greene is the gentlest, most understanding boy you'll ever meet, until you make fun of him for being Jewish.
  • One-Gender School: The Massachusetts prep school where most of the film takes place.
  • Politically Incorrect Villain: The whole idea of the film here is "the bad guys are anti-Semitic", often to the point of violence.
  • Sadist Teacher: Most of the teachers are pretty strict but the subtitute French teacher, Mr. Cleary, takes the cake.