An arrogant and unorthodox teacher returns as principal to the idyllic high school from which he had earlier been fired to find it a den of drug abuse, gang violence, and urban despair. Eventually his successful but unorthodox methods lead to a clash with city officials that threatens to undo all his efforts. Based on a true story. Written by
Keith Loh <email@example.com>
Several homages to Sesame Street (1969) are referenced in the film - when Clark was seen as a history teacher, in the 1967 scene, he sported an Afro (similar to the character Easy Reader on The Electric Company (1971), where Morgan Freeman was part of the cast) and when he arrives at Eastside High, on the first day on the job, he wears a business suit similar to the one he had during The Electric Company's opening credits. Dr. Napier said to Clark, in one scene, that he is a Big Bird with Radar, which was a double entendre (either as an airplane or the famous Sesame Street character with his pet teddy bear). Also, Lynne Thigpen would later join the cast of the PBS series, Where in the World Is Carmen Sandiego? (1991), as the Chief. See more »
Maria's hair between shots when Clark is somewhat berating Mrs. Powers over the way she taught the school song to the "song birds". See more »
[at school assembly before the skills test]
And I've got a message out there for those people who have abandoned you and written you off. You are NOT inferior. Your grades may be. Your school may have been. But you can turn all that around and make liars out of those bastards in exactly one hour, when you take that test, pass it, and win!
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Morgan Freeman made himself into a star with this film, and also made the movie a hit with his great performance. He IS the movie playing fascinating real- life high school principal Joe Clark. He's just fun to watch all the way through.
All the characters in this movie all have the same trait: tough on the outside, soft on the inside. Here is a bit of a warning for people who want to show this to their kids and don't know the material: there are at least a half-dozen abuses of God's name in vain and some unneeded sexual remarks. Also, they dealt with teen pregnancy a little too liberally but didn't dwell on it. ("There are alternatives," Clark says to a young girl after she confesses she's become pregnant.)
Other than that, solid acting and an interesting based-on-a-true life story made this a deserved hit film. A year later, Freeman solidified his status as a "star" with "Driving Miss Daisy."
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