Richard Collins, better known as “Magoo” (probably after Mr. Magoo, a cartoon character who is nearly blind; Collins wears thick glasses with what looks like a very strong prescription), is another character in the School Ties movie. He has such a limited role, and even less is revealed about him than is about Mack. I almost began to wonder if he was even worth writing about, but he nonetheless is interesting enough for me to do so.
Like Mack McGivern, Magoo is not at all athletic and thus, not one of the “big men on campus” like Green, Dillon, and the other guys. But like Mack, he also hangs out with them despite this. Why though? While anyone who has seen the movie can clearly see why Mack’s great sense of humor would be appreciated among the popular group, what is it about Magoo that was so great?
Well, for starters, he appeared to be very smart, possibly the smartest guy in the senior class. But this is an elite preparatory school we’re talking about, a “pipeline to Harvard”; everyone in the school is at least moderately intelligent. However, Magoo is more articulate than the other guys.
What makes him stand out from the other guys even more is that he is also more prejudiced and cruel when it is out in the open that David Green is Jewish. He’s the first one, besides Dillon, to push the anti-Semitic jokes, and generally give Green a hard time. He may have even been the one who drew the swastika in Green’s dorm room, but the film never really even implies who actually did it. It may have been a couple of idiot freshman who were board and yearning for a prank.
Nonetheless, Magoo is absolutely stubborn in considering that Charlie Dillon may have cheated on the test and that Green was innocent. The only evidence he needed of Green’s guilt was his Jewishness.
“From the very first day he was here, he was madly trying to ingratiate himself into our crowd. He wanted to get into the top without hazing, or any of the work.”, he says.
This reminds us more of the mentality humans tend to have when someone has a relatively easy time getting something someone else wants. David Green had everything Magoo did not: good looks, athleticism, and popularity. But Magoo had things David didn’t have either, like family fortune and a good name. He also was seen with a girl, a cute girl, at the school dance, who I think was his girlfriend. I think Magoo used this to try to feel a little better about himself not being a star athlete, and Green’s “secret” coming out in the open meant Magoo now had reasons to despise him. Magoo, in fact, leads the way in getting the class to vote that Green cheated on the exam.
Now seeing as this movie is in some ways a satire of the “Old boy’s network”, we have to wonder why Magoo was always physically protected by Chesty Smith (Ben Affleck) any time trouble came his way. It was as if Smith was his bodyguard or something. This suggests to me that Magoo’s legacy and lineage was of a very high one, possibly almost as high as that of Charlie Dillon. He probably moved on to go to Yale and pledged Delta Kappa Epsilon.
An almost one dimensional character, Magoo embodies the articulate (popular) nerd type who uses his intelligence and family accomplishments as a crutch to forget for a moment, his lack of strength and charm compared to his friends.
Richard “Magoo” Collins is portrayed by Anthony Rapp