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The Principal
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The Principal (1987) More at IMDbPro »

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The Principal -- Tough inner-city high school principal (James Belushi) butts heads with gang members in a crusade which may cost him his career and his life.


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Frank Deese (written by)
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Release Date:
18 September 1987 (USA) See more »
An educator who never plays by the rules. A high school where the only law is survival. Will he break it before it breaks him? See more »
A teacher is assigned to be the principal of a violence and crime ridden high school. Full summary » | Add synopsis »
Plot Keywords:
1 nomination See more »
User Reviews:
I'm the principal, man! See more (53 total) »


  (in credits order) (complete, awaiting verification)

James Belushi ... Rick Latimer

Louis Gossett Jr. ... Jake Phillips

Rae Dawn Chong ... Hilary Orozco

Michael Wright ... Victor Duncan

J.J. Cohen ... White Zac

Esai Morales ... Raymi Rojas
Troy Winbush ... 'Baby' Emile

Jacob Vargas ... Arturo Diego

Thomas Ryan ... Robert Darcy
Reggie Johnson ... Jojo

Kelly Jo Minter ... Treena Lester (as Kelly Minter)
Ruth Beckford ... Mrs. Jenkins
Julian Brooks ... Kevin
Joan Valderrama ... Secretary
Rick Hamilton ... Mr. Harkley
Marty Pistone ... Security Guard (as Martin Pistone)
Richard Dupell ... Buddy (as Richard Duppell)

Peter Fitzsimmons ... Buddy

Joe Flood ... Terhune
Annabel Armour ... Mrs. Ripton (as Ann Armour)
Tony Haney ... Police Officer
Sharon Thomas Cain ... Kimberly (as Sharon Thomas)
Daniel Royal ... Will
Delores Mitchell ... Mrs. Coswell
Zoltan Gray ... P.E. Teacher
John Allen Vick ... Frank Valdis
Sean Michael Allen ... Rolf (as Sean Allen Barnes)
Yuri Lane ... Lance Woodbury
Steve Birger ... Stevie B. (as Steve W. Birger)
Gus Dimas ... Gus
Leo Downey ... George Pierce
Tom Winston ... Principal O'Connor
Kathryn Knotts ... Jan Buchanan
Marshall Jones ... Gang Member
Josh Wood ... Charles Lester
Mark Anger ... Desk Officer

Frank Deese ... Mr. Petersen
J.J. Johnston ... Will (as J.J. Johnson)
Doug White ... Eric
Wat Takeshita ... Maintenance Man
Elliott S. Valderrama ... Drug Dealer
Joel Valentin ... Kid

Jessica Looney ... Girl (as Jessica Wilson)
Kaprice Wilson ... Girl
Bridgette Rodriguez ... Girl
Tom Bryant ... Shocked Teacher
Danny Kovacs ... Substitute Teacher
Charmaine Anderson ... Hilary's Student
Terry Coleman ... Student
Melissa Lee Holloman ... Student
Luis Zuno ... Student
Nemon Wade ... Student
Eural Wills ... Student
James Edward Griffin ... Gang Student
David Williams ... Gang Student
Melanie G. Muters ... Alley Girl
Linda Trowbridge ... Nurse
Danny Williams ... Dangerous Danny
Bill Yarbrough ... Randall

Directed by
Christopher Cain 
Writing credits
Frank Deese (written by)

Produced by
Thomas H. Brodek .... producer
Original Music by
Jay Gruska 
Cinematography by
Arthur Albert (director of photography)
Film Editing by
Jack Hofstra 
Casting by
Penny Perry 
Art Direction by
Mark Billerman 
Set Decoration by
Rick Brown 
Costume Design by
Marianna Åström-De Fina  (as Marianna Aström-DeFina)
Makeup Department
Steven E. Anderson .... key makeup artist
Karoly Balazs .... makeup advisor (as Balazs)
Candace Neal .... hair stylist
Production Management
James T. Davis .... unit production manager
Trevor Jolly .... post-production supervisor
Ted Zachary .... executive in charge of production (uncredited)
Second Unit Director or Assistant Director
Charles Myers .... first assistant director (as Charles D. Myers)
W. Thomas Snyder .... second assistant director (as Tom Snyder)
Art Department
F.X. Crowley .... assistant property master (as Frances X. Crowley)
Jeffrey P. Cude .... set dresser
Sean Everett .... property assistant (as Sean E. Markland)
Jack Kostelnik .... leadman
Teresa Nielsen .... set painter
Daniel J. Nilles .... set dresser
Michelle Souza .... set dresser (as Michelle L. Souza)
J. Michael Speakman .... assistant property master
Philip Steuer .... property master
I.J. Van Perre .... construction coordinator (as I.J. Van Perre Jr.)
Sound Department
Stephen Balliet .... boom operator
Gregg Barbanell .... foley artist
David E. Campbell .... sound re-recording mixer (as Dave Campbell)
Gordon Daniel .... sound editor
G.W. Davis .... sound editor
Denis Dutton .... sound editor
Dan Gleich .... boom operator
John Paul Jones .... foley editor
Horace Manzanares .... assistant sound editor (as Horace Manzaneres)
Gilbert D. Marchant .... supervising sound editor
John T. Reitz .... sound re-recording mixer (as John Reitz)
Gregg Rudloff .... sound re-recording mixer
Edward L. Sandlin .... sound editor (as Edward Sandlin)
Richard Stewart .... assistant sound editor
Andy Wiskes .... production sound mixer
Jerry Trent .... foley artist (uncredited)
Special Effects by
Douglas Cattaneo .... special effects
Allen S. Gross Jr. .... special effects
David Pier .... special effects supervisor
Visual Effects by
Bridgid O'Donnell .... restoration supervisor (uncredited)
Mickey Alzola .... stunts
Bobby Angelle .... stunts
Michael Bransfield .... stunts
Lyle Byrum .... stunts
Everett Creach .... stunt coordinator
Everett Creach .... stunts
Laurie Creach .... stunts (as Lauri Creach)
Gregg Dandridge .... stunts
Kirk Elam .... stunts (as Kirk A. Elam)
Taylor Gilbert .... stunts
Len Glascow .... stunts
Scott Howell .... stunts (as Scott A. Howell)
Eileen Lane .... stunts
Shawn Lane .... stunts (as Shawn Patrick Lane)
William T. Lane .... stunts
Tyann Means .... stunts
Eddie Mulder .... stunts
Norma Nobile .... stunts
Kristen Suzanne Raden .... stunts (as Krissy Raden)
Michael Raden .... stunts (as Mike Raden)
Don Ruffin .... stunts
Vicki Swindell .... stunts
Shirley Walker .... stunts (as Shirley A. Walker)
Tom Wright .... stunts
Camera and Electrical Department
Sharon Alley .... second assistant camera
Anthony F. Balderrama .... first assistant camera
Gary M. Brickley .... best boy
Gregory M. Childers .... best boy grip
Greg Davies .... gaffer
Philip Holahan .... additional photographer
Barbara Lakin .... still photographer
Dennis Pope .... dolly grip
Jani Vournas .... electrical best boy
Casting Department
Terri Pappas .... extras casting
Cate Praggastis .... extras casting
Mae Williams .... casting assistant
Costume and Wardrobe Department
Judy Feil .... costumer
Barbara Kassal .... costumer
Sue Miller .... costume supervisor
Editorial Department
Denise Cochran .... apprentice film editor
Marlys James .... apprentice film editor
Frank Kniest .... assistant film editor
Music Department
Jellybean Benítez .... music supervisor (as Jellybean)
Ian Eales .... music recordist
Ken Johnson .... music editor
Steve Livingston .... music editor
Timothy R. Sexton .... executive in charge of music
Daniel J. Johnson .... music editor (uncredited)
Transportation Department
Jon Thorgusen .... transportation captain
Randy White .... transportation coordinator
Other crew
Nandi Bowe .... production assistant
Randi Lynn Braun .... titles
Jane Bucklin .... assistant: Mr. Brodek
Dulanie M. Ellis .... script supervisor (as Dulanie Ellis)
Terry Gusto .... location manager
Barbara Gutman .... assistant accountant
Doris Hellmann .... assistant production coordinator
Arlene Johnson .... assistant: Mr. Cain
Jennifer Neiman .... production accountant
Steve Scheutzow .... production assistant (as Stephen Scheutzow)
Peter Steinfeld .... physical trainer: Body by Jake
Lauren Beth Strogoff .... unit publicist
Eugene M. Texeira .... craft service (as Eugene Texeira)
Elliott S. Valderrama .... production assistant (as E.S. Valderrama)
Thomas Vranesich .... production assistant
Laurel Walter .... production coordinator
Dara Weintraub .... production assistant (as Dara L. Weintraub)

Production CompaniesDistributorsOther Companies

Additional Details

Also Known As:
109 min
Aspect Ratio:
1.85 : 1 See more »
Sound Mix:
Filming Locations:

Did You Know?

In the movie James Belushi (Ricky Latimer) is supposed to be much older than Michael Wright (Victor Duncan). In actuality they are less than 2 years apart in age. Belushi was born in June of 1954 and Wright was born in April of 1956.See more »
Continuity: In the scene when Rick Latimer and Jake Phillips first meet, Jake takes his hat off, then in the next shot his hat is on, and finally in a third shot his hat is off again and we see him put it back on.See more »
Rick Latimer:[in his office] ... Okay, what's your name?
White Zac:Just call me White Zac. My real last name's O'Something-Or-Other, too long to say.
Rick Latimer:Sweet. Well, Mr. O'Something-Or-Other, can you tell me what class *this* is for?
[holds up a switchblade taken from Zac]
White Zac:Any class Victor Duncan tries to kill me in.
See more »
Livin' in the Line of FireSee more »


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2 out of 2 people found the following review useful.
I'm the principal, man!, 9 June 2010
Author: Spikeopath from United Kingdom

Rick Latimer (James Belushi) is a high-school teacher with some social issues. Hard drinking and soon to be divorced, Latimer flies of the handle when he spies his ex out having a drink in a bar with another man. Up before the school board, who have tired of his combustible attitude, Latimer is informed that he has finally got the Principal position he has long since courted. Trouble is is that it is at Brandel High, a notoriously troubled school where violence and crime are part of the curriculum. Taking up an attitude of fighting fire with fire and working from his motto of "No More," Latimer hopes to bring order and respect to the school. But with only Security guard Jake Phillips (Louis Gossett Jr) as an ally and the thuggish school kingpin Victor Duncan (Michael Wright) after his blood, Latimer will do well to just survive the first week.

The formula of such movies like The Principal is now seen as old hat, post the release of Christopher Cain's movie you can trace a line from Lean On Me in 1989, to The Substitute 1996 and on to One Eight Seven the following year. Prior to The Principal the topic is a bit more thin on the ground, we can probably laud the excellent Blackboard Jungle from 1955, while 1984 saw Mark L. Lester tap into the video nasty zeitgeist of the early 80s with his trashy Classs Of 1984. So plenty of film's, and similar types like Stand And Deliver, from which to choose should you require a night in with a teacher intent on straightening out those ruffians; whilst ensuring the good kids get the education they deserve. So why choose The Principal then?

Well James Belushi's fans don't need much convincing here, an always likable star who knows the limits of his talents, the film gives him the chance to mix serious drama with his comedy bent. This played out with immeasurable cool too. Latimer is one bad ass teacher, he drinks hard, plays hard, whirls his baseball bat and rides a motorcycle. He's no Dolph Lungdren (Detention) or a Tom Berrenger (The Substitute), but Belushi can carry off the tough side of Latimer, whilst showing his fallibility's via little comedy moments as he wonders just what the hell he is doing here. Belushi is admirably supported by Gossett Jr, a believable tough security guard if ever there was one, while a lot of the film's strength is drawn from the developing relationship between the two men. Of the rest of the cast it's Michael Wright who stands out as head thug Victor. Already at the time of release a cult actor thanks to his turn in The Wanderers, Wright is supremely cool and terrifying into the bargain. When he shouts "I expel you," you start to pack your bags, that is unless you are Principal Latimer of course.

As ever with a film of this type there are complaints that it's full of stereotypes, but were they in 1987? Director Cain is for sure not addressing the then fledgling problems of education and crime amongst African-American and Latino school kids. But he is not shying away from the issue either. That the most unsavoury point in the film sees a white youth perpetrate crime on a black teacher tends to get over looked by snarky PC critics. Make no bones about it tho, this is more macho than the rest, again this is something that has upset many a critic who prefers the "reach out to the kids" approach in something like Morgan Freeman's excellent, but tonally different, Lean On Me. Oh yes sir, this is taking a different tack, but I for one appreciate having a different angle from which to view such subject matter. Some hooligans can be saved by reaching out to them, but lets not kid ourselves that some of them don't need more than just a telling off from The Principal. Yes the film is also very 80s, none more so than with the soundtrack where we get a mix of the bad; some American Heartbeat sounding fluffer, and the great; Strafe's pulse rocking "Set It Off". Not setting out to win awards or moralise about an ongoing problem, The Principal goes for a tough and gritty approach for this semester. Amen to that sir. 8/10

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The Principal MikeTuinstra
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