The Chocolate War (film)

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The Chocolate War is a 1988 American drama film about a young man who rebels against the ingrained hierarchy of an elite Catholic school.

Directed and written by Keith Gordon, based on Robert Cormier's novel of the same name.

Archie Costello[edit]

  • You see, Carter, people are two things: greedy and cruel. And we've got the perfect setup. Greed: a kid pays two dollars for a chance to win two hundred. Plus fifty bucks in chocolate. And the cruel part: watching two guys hit each other in the ring, unable to defend themselves, under their commands while they are safe in the bleachers. That's why it works, Carter. Because we're all bastards.


Archie Costello: The kid who just left the field. The one they wiped out.
Obie Jameson: Uh, kid named Renault. Freshman. [Goes through the papers in his notebook] Ah, here we are. Renault, Jerome, E., son of James R. Pharmacist at Blake's. Birth date... the kid just turned 15. Blah, blah, blah. Oh. His mother just died last spring. Cancer.
Archie: That must be hard. Poor kid. With his mother dead and all. You know what he needs?
Obie: What?
Archie: Therapy.
Obie: Therapy?
Archie: Right. Put him down.
Obie: Jesus, Archie! You saw him out there! He's just a skinny kid. I mean, his mother's barely cold. What're you putting him on the list for?
Archie: Put him down.
[Obie reluctantly writes in his notebook.]
Obie: Assignment?
[Archie says nothing; Obie sighs.]
Obie: You running out of ideas?
Archie: Just being artistic. It's an art, you know. Put him down for the chocolates.
[Obie writes in his notebook again; the two sit in silence for a few moments.]
Obie: You know what, Archie?
Archie: What?
Obie: Life is sad sometimes.
Archie: Life is shit.

Brother Leon: Bailey.
Bailey: Yes?
Brother Leon: You still haven't answered my question, Bailey. Well?
Bailey: I don't cheat, Brother Leon.
Brother Leon: Then how do you account for all those A's, Bailey?
Bailey: I don't know.
Brother Leon: Are you perfect, Bailey? All those A's, that implies perfection. Only God is perfect, Bailey. Do you compare yourself to God? If God is perfect, and you are perfect, Bailey, doesn't that suggest something to you, Bailey? [Leon gets up from his desk and strides over to where Bailey is standing in front of the class.] The other alternative is that you're not perfect, Bailey. And of course you're not. I know you wouldn't be so blasphemous as to compare yourself to God. Would you, Bailey?
Bailey: No, Brother Leon.
Brother Leon: Which leaves us with only one conclusion! You cheat! You're a cheat, Bailey. And a liar. [Outside in the hallway the bell rings as class ends; the students start getting up to leave.] Wait a minute. Wait a minute! Nobody moves. You poor fools. You idiots. Do you know who is the best man here? The bravest of them all? It's Gregory Bailey, that's who. He denied cheating. He stood up to my accusations. Stood his ground. But you, gentlemen, you sat there and enjoyed yourselves. And those of you who didn't enjoy yourselves, you allowed it to happen! You turned this classroom into Nazi Germany for a few moments! [Turns and sets his pointer stick on Bailey's head, then each of his shoulders.] You did well, Bailey. I'm proud of you. You passed the biggest test of all: you were true to yourself. Of course you don't cheat. Your classmates out there, they're the cheaters. They cheated you. They doubted you. I never did. [Leon looks out at the class, shaking his head in contempt.] Dismissed.

Brother Leon: I thought you had influence, Archie. You and your "friends".
Archie: It's not my sale, Brother Leon.
Brother Leon: You played games with that freshman Renault, and now the game has backfired. You got yourself involved.
Archie: Wait a minute. Last year you barely sold all the chocolates, and that was half as many at half the price. The kids are tired of selling. That's why your sale is falling apart; not my games.
Brother Leon: Archie, I don't care if it's Renault, or your precious organization, or the state of the economy! I want the chocolates sold!
Archie: Any ideas how?
Brother Leon: Perhaps you should begin with Renault. He's become some kind of symbol. I think he should be made to say yes, instead of no. And The Vigils- yes, I'm saying the name aloud- The Vigils must throw their full weight behind the sale.
Archie: That's quite an order, Brother.
Brother Leon: You've picked the right word, Archie. "Order". It is an order.
Archie: I have no idea what you're talking about.
Brother Leon: I'll make it crystal clear, Archibald. If the sale goes down the drain, you and The Vigils go down the drain. We all go down the drain together!

Archie: You think you're a big shot, don't you? A big shot.
Frankie: You said it, not me.
Archie: Well, we like big shots, don't we? You see, here, our specialty is turning big shots into little shots.
Frankie: Cut the shit, Archie. You're not impressing anyone.
Archie: [Stares in surprise] What did you say?
[Frankie Bollo whistles and waves sarcastically at the other Vigils, seated across the room.]
Frankie: Hey, guys? I'm not some scared little kid, who pisses his pants because the big, bad Vigils called him to an inquisition.
[Bill Carter gets up and starts walking over to Frankie.]
Frankie: [Chuckles] Hell, you guys couldn't even scare a punk freshman into selling your lousy fuckin ch-
[Carter punches Frankie in the face, knocking him over, and kicks him on the floor.]
Boy 1: Yeah!
Boy 2: Yeah!
Carter: Get him out of here.
[A few boys get up and grab Frankie, dragging him out of the room.]
Obie: See you later, Bollo!
[The other boys throw Frankie out in the hallway and shut the door.]
Carter: Quiet down. Quiet! Shut up! [To Archie] Sit down.

Carter: You're the brain, Arch. You got us into this mess. Where do we go from here?
Archie: Everybody's panicking for nothing. First of all, you can't go around the school beating up half the kids! The Brothers would shut us down in a minute. That's why I stay away from the strong-arm stuff. [To Carter] Although I will admit, you did a beautiful job on Bollo back there. And it was coming to him! But Bollo's a troublemaker. And he can lie out there in his vomit 'till Hell freezes over. Nobody's gonna care, 'cause he's an exception.
Carter: Bollo's an example. [To the other Vigils] Let the word spread about Bollo, we won't have to worry about other kids screwing with us.
Archie: But that doesn't sell chocolates. [Gets up and paces for a moment, then turns to Bill.] You say The Vigils are linked with the sale? Well, then, let's get the goddamn sale over with! Let's sell the chocolates! Because if Renault is becoming some kind of rebel hero because he's not selling, how the hell is he gonna look when everybody is selling- except him?
Carter: How are you gonna get everybody to start selling them?
Archie: Simple. Like all great plans, it has the beauty of simplicity. We make selling chocolates popular. We make it cool to sell the things. We spread the word, we organize! We get the class officers, we get the homeroom officers, we get all the kids with influence. Do or die for Trinity- everybody sells!
Obie: Not everybody is gonna wanna sell fifty boxes, Archie.
Archie: Oh, but they will, Obie. No, no, no no. They will. We will make selling chocolates the thing to do! And the school will love us for it. The Vigils will be able to write their own ticket with the Brothers and Leon. Why do you think I told Leon we'd do this in the first place?
Carter: What about Renault?
Archie: Don't worry about Renault.
Carter: But I worry about him, Arch. I worry about him!
Archie: Let me put it like this. At the end of the sale, Renault will be wishing with all of his heart that he had sold the chocolates. And the school will be glad that he didn't.


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