The George McKenna Story (1986)

TV Movie  |   |  Biography, Drama  |  11 November 1986 (USA)
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He Risked It All To Make The Grade.


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Credited cast:
Bobbie Maxwell
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Debra Artis ...
Edna Auguillard
Billy Jaye Banner
Mr. Rogers
James Bowman
Ray Buktenica ...
Alan Keith
Cynthia Byers
Alexander Byrd
Virginia Capers ...
Margaret Wright
Kim Davis
Howard Smith


The true story of a teacher in Los Angeles who becomes the Principal of George Washington Memorial High School. The school and its students are affected by the normal life of gangs and drugs in their lives. McKenna wanted to give the students a real choice at education and all it offered for their future. But he faced teachers used to the reality of their school, parents unable or unwilling to give the kids the support they needed, and kids just wanting to survive the streets never mind learning something. After Denzel Washington (George McKenna) became a superstar, the film was re-released on home video under the title Hard Lessons.

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He Risked It All To Make The Grade


Biography | Drama





Release Date:

11 November 1986 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Hard Lessons  »

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Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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User Reviews

Denzil Washington last t.v. movie before "Cry Freedom" Oscar nominated performance
21 October 2003 | by (Decatur, Ga) – See all my reviews

The George McKenna Story, is a 1986 CBS fact based made for t.v. movie, that starred Denzil Washington as the title role of George McKenna. Washington plays a school principal in a tough inner city Los Angeles high school out to rid it of drugs, gangs, low moral of teachers, and restore educational values. Nothing is new in this film that has not been seen before in films like The Blackboard Jungle(1955), and later in films like The Principal (1987), Lean On Me (1988), and Dangerous Minds (1994).

This movie was Denzil Washington's last television movie before he scored big a year later with the film "Cry Freedom". The George McKenna story also starred fine stage and screen actress Lynn Whitfield, who also was in another satisfying CBS fact based movie, Johnnie Mae Gibson, F.B.I. Though the movie is clichéd at times, the producers was intelligent to cast superior actors. The George McKenna Story, without Denzil Washington would have been a typical after school special with melodramatic violence. I gave this movie *** good, but nothing exceptionally special here. Check it out, it is on video.

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