© 2002 by Raymond Weschler
David Greene.....................Brendan Frasier
A young, handsome and very athletic high school student, who also happens
to be Jewish. Thanks to his football skills, he is given the chance to leave
his working-class Scranton, Pennsylvania home in order to go to St. Matthews
("St. Matts"), one of the best preparatory private high schools in the country,
in the state of Massachusetts.
Charlie Dillon...................Matt Damon
A student at St Matthews who comes from a very wealthy family that has had
generations of sons go to the school. He is a spoiled, insecure and racist young man.
Sally Wheeler....................Amy Locane
A sweet but naïve high school student who many people think is Charlies girlfriend,
but who actually is not.
Chris Reece.....................Chris ODonnel
Davids roommate, who is struggling with his
own attitude towards Jews and racism.
Rip Van Kelt....................Randall Batinkoff
Dillons roommate, who is another privileged young man from a wealthy family,
but who is also a good person at heart.
The class clown or joker of the group.
Richard McGoo Collins.........Anthony Rapp
One of the more socially awkward of the group, who is also one of the most prejudiced.
Headmaster Bartrum...............Peter Donat
The head of St. Matts preparatory school, who had approved of making David a student
at his school in order to improve their chances of having a winning football team.
A disagreeable and snobby French teacher who most of the students dislike.
Coach McDevitt...................Kevin Tighe
The coach of the St. Matts football team that decides to bring David
to his school in order to make him their teams star player.
Professor Gierasche..............Michael Higgins
A very old-fashioned and strict history teacher.
This film is about prejudice and social class in mid 1950s America, at a time when it
was still common for even educated people to be shamelessly prejudice (Racism may always
be around, but by the 1970s, it was probably no longer acceptable for any educated
American to admit that they were a racist). Specifically, it is the story of David Green,
a handsome, athletic Jewish kid from Scranton, Pennsylvania, who is given the chance to go
to the prestigious St. Matthews Academy in Massachusetts (see Prep School note below).
This is the opportunity of a life-time for David, because those students who attend
St. Matts are often able to go on to Harvard, or one of the other great American
universities. And as a kid from a working class neighborhood, this opportunity would
normally not have occurred for David. Somehow, though, the football coach at
St Matts discovered that he is a true star athlete, and thus he was able to get
David a full scholarship for his last year of high school.
When David arrives at St. Matts, he discovers a world of amazing wealth, and of students
who often dont appreciate how lucky they are to be born into the privileged social class
they come from. Still, he is able to do well in classes and lead the school football
team to a winning season. He makes some friends and meets Sally, but he also learns that
even here, anti-Semitism (racism against Jews) is both accepted and common. Thus, David
chooses to keep his Judaism to himself, but when that fact becomes known, he must face
the general hostility of some, and the cruelty of Charlie Dillon in particular...
A Note on Prep Schools and the Ivy League: Preparatory Schools, which are usually
called Prep Schools, are private high schools that are considered among the best in the
United States. Many of them are in the Northeast, and some of them are still for just boys.
They are extremely expensive, and thus most prep school students are children of the
countrys richest people. The St. Matthews Academy in this film is fictional, but it
closely resembles several real prep schools found throughout Massachusetts.
The primary reason that rich parents send their kids to prep schools is that attendance
at such a place greatly increases the chances that a student will be able to go to one
of the countrys best universities. Among those universities, the best known are the
so-called Ivy league schools of the Northeast, named after the ivy plant that grows
on their buildings. These include Harvard (in Boston, Massachusetts), Yale
(in New Haven, Connecticut) and Princeton (in Princeton, New Jersey).
Some Words and Expressions that You May not Know
David get lucky, and soon discovers
the elite world of St. Matthews Academy.
You go up there and become a gentleman; Not like this riff-raff.
In this case, a "gentleman" is a man who is well-behaved. "Riff-raff" is
an interesting word for people who cause trouble and are generally uneducated
and perhaps even violent.
We ought to be kicking his skinny butt for breaking up the team.
"To kick a persons butt" is to physically attack them, or beat them up.
Look whos talking!
An expression that is used to suggest that the person who was
speaking before is guilty of something they had accused others of.
The night before last, his sister gave me a hand job. It was her idea.
A "hand job" is the act of sexually masturbating a guy.
You know, you got a Jew friend with a real smart mouth.
A person who has a "smart mouth" is often
saying things that are rude, sassy or disrespectful.
So it doesnt bother you that they killed Jesus and everything?
Note that a source of anti-Jewish racism has been the charge by some
Christians that Jews were somehow responsible for the death of Jesus.
It still bothers the shit out of me, you sheeny bastard!
If something "bothers the shit out of" you, it makes you very upset.
"Sheeny" is a racial slur for a Jewish person, but its no longer used today,
even by anti-Semitic people. A "bastard" is an insult word for a mean or abusive man.
Giveem hell, kid!
A colloquial way of saying "Go out there and do your best"
(Note that "Give them"------> "giveem" in rapid speech).
Goddamn it; You get an opportunity like
this out of the blue and you go pull that shit.
"Goddamn it" is a very common and vulgar way of expressing anger.
If something happens "out of the blue," it is completely unexpected.
"To pull" something is a slangy way of saying to do it, and when used
with shit, it means to do something very stupid or wrong.
This school is a pipeline for Harvard University.
A pipe that carries water, oil or other liquid. This is a way of saying
many students who go to this school later attend Harvard University.
Theyre gonna think youre some kind of hoodlum.
Note that "going to"-----> "gonna" in rapid speech. A "hoodlum"
is a good word for a violent person, punk or gangster.
You could fit in if you really want to, or you
could hack around with a chip on your shoulder.
"To fit in" with a group of people is to act or become like them, so that you
are accepted. To have "a chip on your shoulder" is to always be angry or bitter
for some injustice that has happened in the past ("To hack around" means to
waste time, but this is no longer used).
Come on, Pop. Youre sounding like Grandpa. :: You should be so lucky.
"Come on" is the most versatile phrasal verb in English, and here is Daves
way of saying "Stop being silly." "Pop" is a colloquial word for dad or father.
"You should be so lucky," when said in the right tone of voice, is a way of
saying "You really dont deserve to be so lucky."
Hows your dad? :: Fine. Hes pretty worked up about all of this.
To be "worked up" about something means to be
angry about it, or in this case, excited about it.
Jesus, this is a high school?
A common way of expressing emotion such as surprise, or in this case, amazement.
Thanks for the lift, coach. :: You bet.
To give a person a "lift" is to give them a ride in a car.
"You bet" is a colloquial way of saying youre welcome.
I cant eat turnips.
A horrible tasting vegetable that looks like a root.
I better let you get settled.
To get "settled" in a new place is to move into it and try to
become comfortable by putting away your clothes and other possessions.
Theyre a great bunch of kids; Dont get me wrong.
One way of saying "dont misunderstand what I am saying."
Theyre privileged; They take a lot of things
for granted that you and I never would.
If a young person is "privileged," they grew up in a house with lots of
money and opportunities. "To take something for granted" is to not appreciate
things that other people have to work hard for (like money).
Just play your cards close to the vest; Thats my advice.
This is a way of telling a person to be careful and not to reveal
too much to other people (A poker play will hold his cards close
to his vest or shirt so that others cant see them).
Hey, were the big men on campus.
This is Dillons way of saying they are the most important or popular guys at the school.
The letters "P.A." is how some refer to the state of Pennsylvania.
A vulgar but fun way of telling a person that what they just said is obvious.
So youre the first ringer that St Matts ever hired.
A "ringer" is a slangy word for a great or dominant athlete.
You must be about the best high school quarterback
money can buy. :: Hey, Dillon, why dont you lay off?
In American football, a "quarterback" is the leader of the team who throws the
ball to others. In this case, to "lay off" means to stop acting so aggressively
Even in Scranton, a pricks a prick.
A "prick" is a very vulgar word for a jerk, bastard, or sometimes more literally, a penis.
Kind of a going-away fight. :: You mean, like a rumble?
A "rumble" is an old but still used word for a fight between
many members of two different groups or gangs.
Over girls, and stuff?
"Stuff" is an overused but critical word, that in this case just means things in general.
Theres this place that we all hang out at and
the motor cycle guys wanted to come in. :: Bikers?
"To hang out" at a place is to pass time there, often doing nothing
in particular. A very common and important phrasal verb. A "biker" is
a person who passes lots of his time riding noisy motorcycles.
You didnt want them on your turf, right?
An interesting word for property or land, that
is often used when discussing school gangs.
Who knows what evil lurks in the hearts of men? The shadow knows.
"To lurk" is to secretly wait or stay at a place, often for an evil purpose.
The above question is the type of philosophical question that Shakespeare may
have asked when discussing human nature.
Football is a game for cretins, bug squatters and criminals.
A "cretin" is an uncivilized or stupid person
(The term "bug squatter" is no longer used).
Mac wants to play, but hes too frail. So we let him be student mascot.
"Frail" is another word for weak or fragile. A "student mascot" is a person who
usually dresses up in an animal costume in order to represent a team or school.
How did you wind up here?
"To wind up" is another way of saying to end up or finish.
Told you that you qualify for an alumni scholarship.
"Alumni" are former students of a school, and a "scholarship" is
an award of money, or perhaps free schooling, housing and food.
St. Lukes has whipped us for three years in a row and the alumni are pissed.
"St Lukes" is the name of the rival preparatory school near St. Matts.
In sports, "to whip" the other team is to beat them badly. If a person is "pissed,"
they are very angry. A very common and useful slang word.
The guys go to chapel three times a week, but its not that bad.
A "chapel" is a Christian place for prayer thats smaller than a church.
David settles in, leads his new football team to victory,
and quickly discovers that at St. Matts, being Jewish is different.
Welcome to the finest preparatory school in the nation.
"The finest" of something is another way of saying the best.
Im Dr. Bartram, your headmaster. The rest
of you may conceivably remember me.
"The headmaster" of a preparatory school is the principle or leader.
In this case, "conceivably" is another way of saying "possibly."
The 193rd fall term.
Here, another word for semester.
Some of you may find that academics and
discipline at St Matthews are very demanding.
"Academics" is an official way of referring to classes.
If something is "demanding," it takes a lot of work.
Let me point out that much of what is policy
here, including our cherished honor code...
"To point out" something is to state it clearly. "Policy" refers to the general
rules and goals of an organization. If something is "cherished," it is much loved,
and a schools "honor code" is a set of rules that students promise to follow,
including a promise not to ever cheat.
...has been established by your fellow students,
to be enforced by your own tribunal of prefects.
"To establish" something is to set it up or create it. A "tribunal of prefects" is a
silly and very old term that refers to a group of self-appointed judges who enforce
a set of agreed upon laws (In this case, a student group that agrees to enforce the
We judge ourselves by the highest standards.
A set of rules or guidelines by which excellence can be measured.
You, my boys, are among the elite of the nation, and we strive...
to prepare you for the heavy responsibility that comes with favored position.
The "elite" of a country are its richest and most educated and powerful members.
"To strive" to do something is to try and do it as well as possible. Here, "favored
position" refers to the advantages of wealth and education.
This country needs an elite that cares more for honor
than for advantage, more for service than for personal gain.
This is Dr. Bartrams way of saying that he hopes students at St Matts
will go on to serve the country and not focus only on making money.
To that end, let us beseech the help of God, in whose name we pray.
"To beseech" is to sincerely request, implore or beg.
He wanted 40 bucks, but I jewed him down to 30.
A "buck" is a very common way of saying a dollar. "To jew a person down" is a racist way
of saying to negotiate over every penny (anti-Semites like to think Jews are very cheap,
but regardless, this expression is rarely if ever used today).
Whose music is that? And I use the term advisedly.
This is Clearys snobby way of saying that the rock
music the kids are listening to is not really music.
I mean the man who would purchase such swill.
"To purchase" something is to buy it, and "swill" is literally a semi-liquid
food for animals, or more generally, anything that is disgusting.
That would be me. :: That would be I.
Note Cleary corrects Rips grammar, but its certainly not clear that
educated native speakers usually say the "more correct version."
I happen to be the house master.
In this case, the person responsible for managing the dormitory
or building in which the students living quarters are found.
Surely in your day you had your own music, Sir.
This is one way of saying "when you were a teenager (or young)."
Gentleman, we all have to live here, and were
not going to bring the jungle into my house.
The "jungle" is a thickly forested area of tropical plants and animals.
This is Clearys way of saying he will not accept rock music (or perhaps music
he associates with black people) to be played in the dormitory.
God, Dave, where did you get the balls?
Here, "balls" refers to testicles, or more generally, courage or bravery.
Gerisch. Hes tough. I got him, too.
If a teacher is "tough," he has a difficult class for which students must study a lot.
You better hang up. Were just going to make it before lights out.
"To hang up" a phone is to put it back on its holder. In this context, "lights out"
refers to the time when all the students are told that they must be in bed with lights
off so everyone will sleep.
Monsieur Bernard is cutting back on his teaching load,
so I have the pleasure of teaching this section of French 4.
A professors "teaching load" is the number of classes that they are supposed to
teach any given semester. Note that large classes can be divided into sections
with only a few students each.
I get the picture; I wasnt the quarterback youre looking for.
"I get the picture" is a colloquial way of saying "I understand."
You are our number one backup. :: But if I want to play, I better play half-back.
A "backup" player is an athlete who is ready to play if the first or starting
player cannot play. A "halfback" is a position in football, but it is not as
important a position as the quarterback.
Its our weakest spot now.
Here, a "spot" is a position on the football team, such as halfback.
You can run and you can block. You got all the stuff, kid.
In football, "to block" is the act of protecting other players. "Stuff" means
things, though in this context, it refers to skills or talents.
Listen up! New face on the varsity this year.
"Listen up" is a way of telling a lot of people to be quiet and listen.
A "varsity" team is the most important team that represents a school.
He led his team to a league championship
last year and it was a mighty tough league.
A "league" is a group of teams that compete against each other.
"Mighty" is an interesting little adverb that means very.
This year were gonna concentrate on our passing game.
"To concentrate on" something is to seriously study or practice it.
In football, the "passing game" refers to the act of passing the football,
as opposed to running with it.
Lets get out there and warm up. Hit it!
In sports, "to warm up" is to practice before a game.
"Hit it" is a colloquial way of telling people to start.
Im keeping up. Im holding my own.
"To keep up" or "hold your own" with others is to do
as well as them, or perhaps to do as well as expected.
Its Rosh Hashanah. You havent forgotten?
An important Jewish holiday that celebrates the Jewish New Year.
Its a very holy day. It goes back a lot longer than any one of us.
If something is "holy," it is considered solemn, sacred or related
to God. If a holiday "goes back" a long way, it began many years ago.
You show respect and get to temple.
A temple is a Jewish place of prayer, like a church.
Touchdown! :: We got a quarterback! We found our quarterback!
In American football, a "touchdown" is the scoring of a goal (It is worth six points).
I couldnt get away before now. Its Rosh Hashanah.
In this case, "to get away" means to leave without
causing problems to others or yourself.
It ends at sunset, as I recall the custom. :: Technically yes, but I
didnt think it would go over well if I said I couldnt play.
"To recall" is to remember. A "custom" is a cultural tradition, such as
the celebration of a religious holiday. If something "goes over well," it is
well received, accepted or enjoyed.
My scholarship depends on football.
A "scholarship" is a gift of money to pay for school,
or perhaps living expenses while going to school.
You seem thoroughly concentrated on the task at hand.
"To be thoroughly concentrated" on something is to be completely focused
on it. "The task at hand" is a stylish way of saying the goal or project
that needs to be completed.
You people are very determined, arent you?
"You people" is a way of referring to a whole group of people, though if
said with a certain tone of voice, it can suggest a racist attitude. If a person
is "determined," they are focused and spend much energy to accomplish their goals.
I recall a blessing; Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.
A "blessing" is a the act of wishing something for others, often with a
religious feeling . "Blessed" means fortunate, or perhaps looked after
by God. "Meek" means weak or fragile, and "to inherit" something is to receive it
from a person who has died (The second sentence is a famous biblical expression).
I suggest you sneak back to your room. I shall ignore this evenings infraction.
"To sneak" into a place is to enter it secretly, without others noticing.
An "infraction" is an official word for a violation of a rule or law.
Was it worth it---Breaking a tradition just to win
a football game? :: Your tradition or mine, Sir?
A "tradition" is a social custom that has been around for a long time,
perhaps even thousands of years. Note: This is a critical exchange between
David and Dr. Bartrum in which both look at the importance of Davids Jewish
background in very different ways.
David learns of the intense pressure to succeed in school,
and the high psychological cost for those who cant.
The son-of-a-bitch knows that, so he gives it to us in French.
A vulgar and common insult phrase for a mean or abusive person.
Conners, I flunked that test.
"To flunk" a test is to fail it.
Charles the 5th is executed, which resulted in the
establishment of what? :: A Commonwealth.
If a person is "executed," they are shot or killed in another way, usually
by the government for a crime they have committed. The British "commonwealth"
refers to the group of former English colonies.
1687. :: Close; youre only a century off.
Thus is Professor Gieraschs sarcastic way of telling
McGivern that his guess was 100 years too late.
That was the reign of bloody Mary Tudor.
A queens "reign" is the period of time in
which they ruled or controlled their country.
Persecution of the Protestants? Catholicism was restored?
"Persecution" is another word for repression. "Protestants" and "Catholics"
are the two biggest divisions of the Christian religion."To restore" something
is to bring it back to life or back into power.
How come, Mr. Conners?
A very common way of asking "Why?"
She married whats his name---Phillip. :: Well, more or less.
"Whats his name" is a very useful way of referring to a man whose name you cant
remember. In this case, "more or less" means generally true, though not exactly.
1611. The publication of the King James Bible.
This is the most well known version of the bible published in English.
I remind you, Mr. Dillon, this course has no shallow end. Sink or swim.
If a class has "no shallow end," all of it is difficult (The shallow end of a
pool is the part that isnt deep, that a person can walk in). "Sink or swim"
is an interesting way of referring to any goal or project that is difficult
and requires the person to work hard from the beginning, often without help.
If I dont get total tit tonight, Ill be using this razor to cut my throat.
A "tit" is a vulgar word for a female breast.
I see sex as my only reason for living. ::
Then be careful you dont cut your hand.
A clever exchange of words in which Dillon is implying that the
only sex McGoo ever gets is masturbation (by using his own hand).
When the guy from Princeton says they might be willing to accept a
C in French and youre flunking French, life is pretty much over.
Princeton is one of the three best universities on the East Coast,
along with Harvard and Yale. "To flunk" a class is to fail it.
Princeton isnt the only school in the Ivy league.
A group of about 10 East Coast universities that are
considered among the very best in the United States.
If I dont get in, it means the blood has gone thin. It means
the others all had cocks and I just have a weenie.
A "cock" is a vulgar but masculine word for a penis, while a "weenie" is a
silly word for perhaps a small or weak penis. This is Jacks way of saying
if he cant get into Princeton, he will have sadly broken a tradition of many
generation in his family.
Excuse me if I have trouble sympathizing;
Harvard wants monthly reports on me.
"To sympathize" with a person is to feel sorry for them.
Its touch and go. Im getting a C in French. C+ maybe.
If a situation is "touch and go," it is very difficult
and it is not clear if you will eventually succeed.
Dont sweat it; Dillons graduating this year.
"Dont sweat it" is a way of telling a person not to be
too stressed or worried about a particular situation.
I wouldnt go to Harvard if you paid me; All those Jews
and Communists! :: Yeah, and thats just the faculty.
The "faculty " of a school are the professors who teach there.
You two are both so full of shit. :; Jew lover!
If a person is "full of shit," they say or believe
a lot of nonsense. Vulgar, but very useful.
Thats not the point! :: That is the point! You dont
have to be with them if you dont want to.
In this context, "the point" is the precise or most important
thing that the speaker wants to communicate.
You dont have to room with them.
"To room" with a person is an interesting verb meaning
to literally live in the same dorm room with them.
How would you not know? Its kind of hard to miss a hebe.
A ridiculous and dated racial slur for a Jewish person.
Girls, eat your hearts out.
If you tell a person to "eat your heart out," you are suggesting that they
should be jealous or envious of you because of something that has just happened.
Oh no, never mess with my hair!
"To mess with" a persons hair is touch it or handle
in such a way that it becomes messy or unkempt.
Dont forget to make room for the holy ghost.
"The holy ghost" is one way that Christians refer to Jesus or God.
Is she? :: I guess so. Thats the word.
A way of saying "this is what people are saying."
The guy must be half-nigger. He can really dance!
A horribly racist word for black people.
You move as well on the floor as you do on the field.
This is Dillons way of saying that David can dance as well as he plays football.
Is that what you do in your spare time---worry about Dillon?
"Spare" is a useful adjective that means extra, not being used, or beyond
what is needed (Beggars on the street ask "any spare change?").
Are you two going steady? :: No, weve known each other since we
were five, so everyone thinks we go steady, but everyone thinks wrong.
"To go steady" is a sweet but old-fashioned way of saying two teenagers
have decided to date each other or become romantically involved.
You must think Im a spoiled brat.
If a person is "spoiled," they have been given too many things without
having to work for them. A "brat" is an ill-mannered or disagreeable kid.
This is a good expression for a person who has grown up with a lot of money
and does not appreciate what they have.
Try the punch!
A drink made of different fruit juices that is popular at parties.
I think Im gonna puke. My stomach hurts.
An unpleasant but common verb meaning to vomit.
I wonder who hell call on first.
If a teacher "calls on" a student during class, that student is expected
to answer questions in front of everyone else in the class.
An interesting way of referring to a person who you feel sorry for
(Of course, by itself, a "bastard" is just a mean or abusive male).
Where are you? Im at school, at the dorm.
A short word for "dormitory," which is the building
in which students sleep, usually found on campus.
Its almost lights out; Where the hell can he be?
A common filler expression for WH question
which add emotions such as anger or frustration.
Its in town. Its a hang-out.
A rare noun for a club or bar where people pass lots of time
("To hang out," which means to pass time, is a common verb).
He hasnt shown up.
"To show up" at a place is to arrive or appear.
Hold on a sec. Ill get the lights.
In this case, "to hold on" is to wait, and a "sec" is short for a second.
Note that when a person is about to turn on or off something like the lights,
the only verb tense used is the contracted form of "I + will."
He should have said something. :: Cut it out!
An excellent colloquial expression which means "stop it"
(In this case, "stop saying those horrible things about him").
You did this! :: Ill get you, Cleary!
A short way of saying "I will punish you
for the bad thing you have done to me."
You cant go after a teacher like that here.
In this case, "to go after" a teacher is to try and harm them
because they did something harmful or disrespectful to you.
Good grade. The right college. The right
connections. These are the keys to the kingdom.
In this context, "connections" are powerful or influential people that can
help you find things like a good job or other favors. A very important word
and concept. "The keys to the kingdom" is Dillons way of referring to the
things, like connections, that allow a person to become rich and powerful
themselves (A "kingdom" is a nation headed by a king).
None of us ever goes off and lives by his wits.
"To go off" someplace is to travel there. If you "live by your wits,"
you survive by your own intelligence and skills, without the
help of others, and in theory without a lot of money.
Ive heard of nervous breakdowns before, but I
always thought it happened to women at 40 years old.
A "nervous breakdown" is a psychological term used to describe a condition
in which a person becomes so overwhelmed by life that they are no longer
able to function normally.
When I was a sophomore, there was a senior,
William Whitman...he hung himself in the gym.
In universities, the four years of collage are called freshman,
sophomore, junior and senior, in that order. If a person "hangs himself,"
he kills himself by putting a rope around his neck and jumping from a chair,
thus breaking his neck.
I envy you.
"To envy" a person is to want something that they
have, such as a lot of money or perhaps a great skill.
If you get what you want, youll deserve it, and if you dont, youll manage.
In this case, "to manage" means to survive or get by.
You dont have to live up to anyone elses expectations.
"To live up to another persons expectations" is to accomplish
something that they believe or expect that you can do.
Thats really what draws people to you;
Its not that youre the cool quarterback.
If a person "draws" others to them, they attract or seduce others.
"Cool" is a key adjective for young people meaning good or excellent.
If my name werent Dillon, that would be different.
Note the use of the subjunctive tense! Yes, it is still used today!
David and Sally grow closer, and Dillon just grows angrier.
You dont smoke? :: I tried it, but it didnt take.
In this case, "to take" means to become attractive or
pleasurable. An interesting but fairly rare usage of this verb.
On garbage day, we had to haul our own trash to the dump.
"To haul" something is to pull it with great effort, usually because it is
big or heavy. A "dump" is where trash is placed after it is collected from
different houses and businesses.
Dont knock it!
An interesting little expression which means "Dont criticize it"
("To knock" something is to literally hit or strike it).
His buddy has the other end of the rope and hes lowering him into the pit.
A "buddy" is a colloquial word for a friend. "To lower" something
is to let it gently drop downward. A "pit" is a hole in the ground.
What for? :: They were scavenging for tin cans.
"What for?" is another way of asking "Why?" "To scavenge" is to look for things
that have been thrown away, often in piles of trash or on dirty city streets.
"Tin" is a type of metal.
Who would want to do that? Thats what I said to my old man.
A slangy way of referring to a persons father.
He gave me a long, hard look and he said, "Davey, its an honest living."
"An honest living" is an affectionate way of describing a job that
may not pay a lot, but is legal and still contributes to society.
Can I call you? :: You better!
Note that in this case, the modal verb version of
better means have to (as opposed to should).
Ill drink to that.
"To drink to" something is to celebrate it, usually by
raising a glass in front of people and drinking in its honor.
History has proven that you cant beat St Lukes. ::
This year is going to be different. We have a secret weapon.
A "secret weapon" can be a real weapon such as a bomb
or jet fighter, or in this case, a person who is a great athlete.
Are we going to punish St. Lukes for their arrogance? :: Severely, Sir.
If a person is "arrogant," they are too confident or look down on
other people (Note the difference between the adjective and noun).
To punish a person "severely" is to do so without mercy.
You at the end of your winning streak?
If a team has a "winning streak," it has won several games in a row without losing.
Hes really cute.
A key adjective meaning attractive or pretty,
especially in a delicate or child-like way.
Really, who found the boy? :: He applied just like anybody else.
"To apply" to go to a school is to officially fill out all the
necessary papers in order to be accepted as a student there.
This years inductees to the Hall of Fame are...
Class of 1951...Quarterback Grayson Dillon the 3rd.
An "inductee" is a person who is officially accepted in to a
club or group. A "Hall of Fame" is a group of the best people in a
particular group or field, in this case students who went to St. Matts.
St Matts ball. Second and 12 from their own 10.
This is language from American Football; St. Matt controls the football, and on the
second play they need to move it forward 12 yards from the 10 yard line on the field.
Dave, theyre looking for a pass. Give it to
me on the right and I can get the first down.
In football, a "first down" is the act of moving the ball so many yards forward
down the field that the team with the ball gets to keep the ball for four more plays.
Come on, let me make up for that fumble.
"To make up for" something is to do something good that will compensate for
something bad that you did in the past. In football, a "fumble" is the act
of accidentally dropping the ball.
Dillon, you better block your ass for me.
In a football context, a slangy way of saying "protect me
from the opposite team with all the energy you have."
Lets see the dessert cart since dinner is on Mr. Wheeler.
In this case, a "cart" is a table with food on it, which is rolled through
a restaurant. If a meal is "on" a person, they are going to pay for it.
I consider it a moral victory; It could have gone either way.
A "moral victory" is a poetic way of referring to a defeat, but one in which
the defeated team learned a valuable lesson or gained something else of great
value despite their loss. A great expression.
The club is three guys who chipped in to buy an old Buick.
"To chip in" to buy something is to contribute some money with
other people in order to be able to buy it as a group (A Buick is a
type of American car).
See the game? :: Wouldnt have missed it for the world.
One way of saying "I saw it, and I wanted to see it
so badly that there was no way I would not have seen it."
That new quarterback is the great white hope, isnt he?
A curious expression for a person who people hope will
become a hero, in this case for St. Matts football team.
This is Mr. Keating, one of our trustees.
A "trustee" is a person responsible for the financial management of a
persons inherited money, or in this case, for the finances of the school.
Son, on behalf of the old guard, many thanks.
To do something "on behalf of" another person is to do it for them.
In this case, "the old guard" refers to the old students of the school.
Dont sell yourself short; That was a key block.
"To sell yourself short" is to not give yourself the credit
you deserve for having accomplished something important.
I threw a good block and he got into the Hall of Fame.
In football, "to throw a good block" is to effectively protect
another player from being hit by members of the other team.
You have different natural abilities. ::
In other words, I should accept my mediocrity.
"Mediocrity" is the state of being just average, or of low quality,
and not excellent or outstanding (the adjective is mediocre).
If you mention Charlie Dillon once more, I will sit down in a huff.
"To mention" a person is to bring them up in conversation.
To do something "in a huff" is to do it while clearly angry or upset.
Sorry, it just kind of happened. :: Screw you, friend.
A vulgar way to express anger, though not as strong as "fuck you."
He needs some time to cool off. Ill speak to him later.
In this context, "to cool off" is to calm down after becoming angry.
Dillon learns of Davids great "secret," and thus their
classmates and Sally are forced to show their true character.
St Lukes class of 35. Thats why he looks so down in the mouth.
The "class of 35" refers to those students who graduated from the school
in 1935. If a person looks "down in the mouth," they look sad or depressed,
though this is a rare and dated expression.
Green? They wouldnt have enrolled a Jew. Not even for championship.
"To enroll" a student in a school is to officially accept them (If the
student enrolls, they officially register and sign up to be in the school).
A Jew? Holy shit.
A vulgar and interesting way to express shock or disbelief
(If something is "holy," it is sacred or associated with God).
I cant believe I dropped that pass in the end zone.
The end of the football field where teams score goals.
Mission accomplished; The old boys
network got together and bought us a victory.
"The old boys network" refers to the people in power who run
an organization (They are often white males, and frequently the
children of people who had power themselves).
But the jokes on us.
If a "jokes on" a person, they are the one who is being made
fun of, or fooled, even though they were not aware of this at first.
Last week there was a religious revival at Madison Square Garden.
In this context, a "religious revival" is a large meeting of
people who come to see a religious leader talk about God.
Bishop Fulton Sheen gave such a stirring address that
afterwards, 10,000 people converted to Catholicism.
A "stirring address" is a very emotional speech. If a person
"converts to Catholicism," they decide to become a Catholic.
Then Billy Graham got up and after an hour of inspired
preaching, 10,000 people converted to Protestantism.
Billy Graham was a very well known religious leader. If a speech is "inspired,"
it is emotional, heart-felt and often effective. "To preach" is to speak with
great emotion, often about religion. "Protestantism" is a large branch of the
Pat Boone sang "Theres a Gold Mine in the Sky"
and 20,000 Jews joined the Air Force.
The "Air Force" is the part of the military that is responsible for control
of the skies through the use of fighter jets and other aircraft. This is
another racist line that implies that Jews are obsessed with money.
It turns out that our Golden boy here is a lying back-stabbing kike.
If a person is "back-stabbing," they will try to even hurt a friend when they
are not prepared ("To stab" a person is to push a knife into them).
A "kike" is a dated and racist word for a Jewish person.
You gonna keep your focus in the books for the rest of the year?
A Persons focus is what they are concentrating on or thinking about.
What do you expect me to say? :: That its no big deal?
If something is "no big deal," it is not considered important.
Youre Methodist. And all the time I didnt know it.
One of the branches of Protestant Christianity (as is Lutheranism).
OK, lets get it out. :: You think all Jews are dirt, right?
In this context, to "get it out" is to say exactly
what you are thinking about a particular subject.
Say it! Jews are dirty, money grubbing!... :: Come off it! Come on!
If a person is "money-grubbing," they are always thinking of ways to make money
("To grub" is to dig in the ground, though this verb alone is very rare). "Come off
it" is an excellent way of telling a person to stop saying nonsense or bullshit.
I was thinking I would get into Harvard. And its not all
that easy when you come from a podunk public high school.
A fun little adjective that means small and unimportant,
or more specifically, from a small and unimportant place.
I didnt want anything to mess it up.
"To mess up" is to do something in such a way that it turns out badly.
I knew the first night I got here, when I heard how
McGivern got his hi-fi---"He jewed him down."
"Hi-fi" is a old-fashioned word for a stereo or
music system (It stood for "high-fidelity").
Your translation was a quantum leap over your previous years efforts.
In this case, a "quantum leap" is a huge improvement
(It is a term in physics that refers to a great change).
Grow up, for Christs sake.
If you tell a person to "grow up," you are telling them to stop acting
so childishly. "For Christs sake" is an interesting way of expressing\
anger or frustration, but it has no real religious meaning.
Its so hard to find decent help nowadays.
In this case, "decent" means good or adequate. This is a sentence that
rich or snobby people say when they want to complain that its hard to
find trustworthy people to be their maids, cooks, babysitters, etc.
If you care to step outside, Ill show you how fast I can move.
This is Davids way of saying he will fight, but only outside
the building, where a fight wont effect so many others.
Listen man, you need this job as much as I do.
A common filler word used to express emotion such as excitement.
Come on, Green, dont blow it!
"To blow it" is an excellent colloquial expression meaning
to do something in a stupid, bad or destructive way.
A "coward" is a person who has no bravery or courage.
You have no idea what youve put me through.
In this context, "to put a person through" a situation is to
make them suffer or experience great stress or anxiety.
Shes going on and on, saying how my
grandmother would turn over in her grave.
If a person "goes on and on" about a subject, she continues to talk about it
for a long time. When you say a person "would turn over in her grave," youre
saying that even though she is dead and buried, she would be so upset by some
news, she would still become upset if she found out. A curious expression,
in this case implying that Sallys grandmother was very anti-Semitic.
My friends, they just keep pestering me and
all they can say is "Whats it like to kiss a Jew?"
"To pester" a person is to continue to bother and
annoy them, like a bee that wont go away.
"Does his nose get in the way?" :: Nice friends.
If something "gets in the way," it prevents you from moving forward or getting what
you want. Note that anti-Semitic people love to claim that all Jews have big noses.
Youre not the first Jewish boy I ever met.
Youre just the first one who ever denied it.
"To deny" something is to claim it isnt true (Of course, David
never denied his Judaism---he just never spoke about it).
Dillon throws both David and his class into crisis.
Please sign your reaffirmation of your honor code in the place provided.
A "reaffirmation" is a second or follow-up promise to act in a
certain way. "To provide" something means to give it, or to supply it.
This test will comprise 30% of your final grade.
"To comprise" means to be made up of, or to include.
My, my, Mr. Conners, you usually dont have this much to communicate.
:: You were bound to ask the right questions sooner or later, Sir.
"My, my" is a gentle way of expressing emotion such as surprise or disbelief.
If a person is "bound to" do something, it is extremely likely that they will do it.
One way a teacher tells students that the class is over and they are
free to go ("To dismiss" literally means to allow to leave, or to remove).
Whats with Rip? :: He must have gone down in flames.
If a person asks "Whats with
" a particular person, they are asking
whats wrong with them, or why they are acting so strangely. "To go down in
flames is a slangy way of saying to completely fail, or to do something very badly.
Sure, and guess who aced it, right?
"To ace" a test is to get an A on it.
Conners, you jerk!
An excellent word for an idiot, ass, bastard, etc. (The
connotation can be either stupid or obnoxious and abusive).
Be seated, gentleman. I regret to announce that
someone in this class cheated on yesterdays exam.
"To regret" something is to feel badly about it.
Everyone signed the honor code. Therefore, we
have a rather bleak situation confronting us.
"Bleak" is a sad little adjective meaning cold, gray and not hopeful.
"To confront" a situation is to face it or deal with it directly.
If the cheater does not come forward, or is not identified
by then, I will be forced to fail the entire section.
Here, "to come forward" means to announce publicly who they are.
We have all been dishonored by this person and I will not tolerate it.
If a person is "dishonored," they have been made to look as if they have
done something shameful or embarrassing. "To tolerate" something is to
accept it, even if you dont like it.
I prefer to keep the evidence to myself for the time being.
"Evidence" is anything that can be used to prove who committed a crime
(In this case, the piece of paper that was used to cheat on the test).
I worked my ass off for four years and
now for one lying bastard, my life is ruined?
"To work ones ass off" is a very slangy way of saying to work
extremely hard. A "bastard" is a vulgar word for a mean or
abusive man. "To ruin" something is to completely destroy it.
I wish I could get it out of my mind, but I got
this appalling feeling...I have a good idea who did it.
An "appalling" feeling is one of shock or disgust.
Maybe Conners can enlighten us. Youve been slacking off all term.
"To enlighten" a person is to educate them, or to give them wisdom.
"To slack off" is an interesting phrasal verb meaning to become lazy.
In this case, a "term" is a school semester or quarter.
Hell, Cleary all but accused you of cheating in French.
A stylistic way of saying Clearly strongly implied (that
Conners cheated) without actually saying so directly.
Clearys full of shit and so are you, you four-eyed runt!
If you accuse a person of being "full of shit," youre saying that they
are saying lies or nonsense. Vulgar, but common and useful. "Four-eyed" is
an insulting and silly adjective for a person who wears glasses, and a "runt"
is any small and weak animal or person. Not a nice thing to say.
Im in more trouble than all of you guys put together.
Another way of saying "all your troubles combined."
You bastards arent going to pin this on me.
"To pin" a crime on a particular person is to accuse them of having done it.
Im sorry hes offended, but this could
ruin the lives of everybody in this room.
If a person is "offended," theyre feelings have been hurt, or
they have been angered or upset by what has been said or shown.
You guys got to handle this.
In this case, "to handle" something means to effectively take care of it.
Lets sleep on it and well meet tomorrow
morning after chapel in the founders room.
"To sleep on" something is to think about it for a while, and then usually
to talk about it the next day. A "chapel" is a small church for religious
services, and the "founders room" probably is named after the founders or
creators of the school.
I know it was you; I can describe the crip sheet.
A sheet of paper that contains notes (Although teachers will sometimes
allow them, theyre usually not permitted during tests).
If I did cheat and you did see me and
didnt report it, youd be in violation, too.
Here, to be "in violation" means to have broken
a law or rule, in this case the honor code.
I know, but I cant let the whole class fail.
:: Hes bluffing; He wont fail anybody.
"To bluff" is to claim to be ready to do something that you in fact will
probably not do (It is a term for poker, where players pretend that they
have stronger cards than they really do).
You met my family; They expect me to
measure up to something thats impossible.
"To measure up to" something is to do as well as people expect.
You got to get it straight, Dillon.
Davids way of saying Dillon has to admit his mistake.
Look, Im sorry. I was a prick. A prejudiced prick.
If a person is "prejudiced," they are racist or biased. A "prick"
is a vulgar word for a jerk, ass, or in the right context, a penis.
This doesnt have anything to do with that. Just confess.
"To confess" is to admit that you have done
something wrong or perhaps illegal or immoral.
How many guys think I could have done it here?
You screwed up a couple of assignments.
"To screw up" something is to do it badly. In school,
an "assignment" is homework, such as a paper.
All right, lay off. It wasnt Conners.
If you tell a person to "lay off," youre telling
them to stop being so insistent or aggressive.
What a squirmer. Just admit it!
"To squirm" is to move or twist your body around, often in
a way that looks like you are desperately trying to escape.
What situation? I just turned him in and now hes denying it.
"To turn a person in" is to report them to others after
you have caught them cheating or breaking the law.
Its one guys word against another.
This describes a situation in which it must be decided who
is telling the truth between two people saying opposite things.
Lets just do it; Whats the big deal?
Asking this question is a way of saying that its not so important.
I submit Dillon didnt cheat...because he didnt have to cheat.
In this case, "to submit" is to officially state as an opinion.
As I see it, theres an objective fact. One of them
has lied in the past and one of them hasnt.
An "objective fact" is a fact that no one can say is not true.
Gierasch says the crip sheet was block printed
and theres no way to tell who wrote it.
If writing is "block printed," it is written with clean, straight
lines that do not have the individual features of handwriting.
The reputation of the school and the
future of the honor code is on our shoulders.
If the future of something is "on your shoulders," you are
responsible for taking care of it and making sure it does well.
My life is screwed if I dont get into Yale. I didnt even apply anywhere else.
Here, "screwed" is used as an adjective meaning badly hurt or destroyed,
and once again, it is less vulgar than fucked. "To apply" to a school is to
officially asked to be admitted as a student there.
Look, we busted our butts for four solid year and now one person is killing us.
"To bust your butt" is to work extremely hard. Slangy, but used.
From the first minute, he was madly trying
to ingratiate himself into our crowd.
If a person tries to "ingratiate themselves" with others, they do whatever
they can to be liked by them, even if what they are doing isnt honest or
isnt acting like what they are really like.
Thats bullshit, McGoo. :: No, he wanted to get
to the top without hazing or any of the work.
"Bullshit" is a crude but excellent word meaning lies, half-truths or nonsense.
"Hazing" is the tradition of college fraternities (male clubs) to force new students
to do ridiculous things before being allowed to join, such as accepting to be
paddled on the ass, or perhaps to drink so much alcohol that they have to vomit.
Will you shut up, McGoo? Youre a bigot. :: I resent that.
A "bigot" is another word for a racist. "To resent" something
that has been said about you is to be angry about it.
Say it all you want, asshole. You were the first one who started needling him.
An "asshole" is a bastard, jerk, creep. etc. A vulgar insult word.
I confess, I am an anti-Semite.
An anti-Semite is a person who does not like Jewish people.
I crack Jew jokes and think theyre greedy and pushy.
"To crack" a joke is to tell it. If a person is
"pushy," they are too aggressive or assertive.
David Greens the first one Ive met up close.
To meet a person "up close" is to see the
face to face, or perhaps to talk with them.
I cant believe this. You want to dump Dillon for a dirty Jew?
In this case, "to dump" means to vote against,
though it more generally means to throw away.
Its now 1AM and ticking; Are we going to decide this or not?
The "ticking" of a clock is the tapping sound it makes as seconds pass.
Not unless we can be fair and impartial.
"Impartial" means without prejudice or bias, but fair and honest.
I only have to know one. The guy who waltzed in here
uninvited and pushed himself into Dillons place on the team.
"To waltz in uninvited" is to enter into a place in an aggressive
manner when those already inside dont want you there.
And he sneaks off with Dillons girl. :: Stabbed him in the back!
"To sneak off" somewhere is to go off secretly, without anybody
seeing. "To stab" a person is to push a knife into them.
You guys would have nailed Green. He knew the way you really feel.
In this context, "to nail" a person is to attack
or blame them or get them into deep trouble.
Lets get it over with.
This is to finish it, usually as quickly as possible.
Hand or secret ballots? :: If were going to
do it, were going to do it out in the open.
When voting, "secret ballots" are pieces of paper that are marked
in secret, while a "hand ballot" is a vote in which people raise their
hands in front of everybody else in the room.
As head prefect, Ive been asked
Here, the leader of the student council or jury.
Its the finding of the majority of the
class that the guilt lies with David Green.
A fancy way of saying "the majority think David is guilty."
Ill honor your traditions. Ill go to the headmaster and Ill lie.
"To honor a tradition" is to agree to follow its rules.
The truth about Dillon comes out, David prepares
for Harvard, and St.Matts returns to normal.
Thank you, Mr. Van Kelt. Youre excused.
A teachers way of saying "You can now leave."
The honor code is a living thing. It cannot exist in a vacuum.
This is a way of saying that the code exists within society, and is part
of that society (A "vacuum" is an empty space where nothing exists).
We absolve you both on that account. Mr. Dillon, however, is expelled.
"To absolve" a person of a crime is to find that they are not guilty of
having done it. In this case, "on that account" refers to the specific crime
of cheating. "To expel" a person is to officially remove them from an
organization, in this case the school.
Good, then its settled. Id like to forget this ever happened.
If a difficult situation is "settled," a solution has been
found that is usually satisfactory to most involved.
You used me for football. Ill use you to get into Harvard.
In this case, "to use" a person is to take advantage of what they have
to offer in order to benefit yourself. It has a negative connotation,
though it is not as bad as to abuse or exploit.
Some Potential Questions for ESL Class Discussion
1. Is racism still a major problem in the US? Against which groups?
2. Is racism still a major problem in your country? Against which groups?
3. Why are the Jews different from other religious or ethnic groups?
4. Should David have said he was Jewish as soon as he arrived at St. Matts?
5. What was Dillons fundamental problem?
6. What was the problem with Professor Gieraschs
solution to the cheating situation?
7. Do you know spoiled kids like those at St. Matts?
8. Davids last words to Dillon were "And in 10 years, youll still be a prick":
Can you think of a line that would have been more appropriate or interesting?
9. Show your knowledge of history: How would St. Matts likely be different
a decade or more later, in the late 1960s?
10. What did you like and not like about this movie?