Based on actual events, director John G. Avildsen's LEAN ON ME tells the story of Joe Clark (Morgan Freeman), a tough and radical disciplinarian hired to save the worst school in Paterson, New Jersey. Eastside High School is in trouble--the once exemplary school is now failing miserably. Graffitti lines the halls, gangs and drugs rule the school, and teachers and students live in perpetual fear. In one school year, Clark is challenged to turn the snake pit of a school into a halfway civilized place of learning, populated by decent students. To make sure his students pass a basic proficiency exam, Clark resorts to what some believe to be questionable methods--including wandering the halls threateningly with a baseball bat--to restore order to his school. Clark's extreme tactics also include firing teachers for talking back, forcing students to sing the school song on demand, and locking out students known to be drug dealers. Freeman delivers an astonishing performance as the tough-as-nails principal who became a national hero and symbol for tough-love education.
Robert Guillaume - African-American actor, BENSON
Morgan Freeman - American Actor
Lynne Thigpen - "The Chief"--PBS's "Where In the World is Carmen Sandiego?"
John G. Avildsen - American Director/Director of Photography/Editor
Alan North - American Supporting Actor
Beverly Todd - American TV/Film Actress
Director John G. Avildsen's LEAN ON ME is based on the true story of Joe Clark, an obsessed, disciplinarian of a principal who has a mandate: In one school year, he had to turn the chaotic wreck of a high school into a semi-civilized educational center where students and teachers don't have to walk the halls in fear.
Theatrical release: March 3, 1989. Shot on location at Eastside High School in Paterson, New Jersey, and in New York City. Joe Clark was an educator who had been in the New Jersey public school system for over 20 years when he took over Eastside High School. His first act of discipline at Eastside was to systematically expel all those students with a reputation for dealing drugs and excessive misbehavior.
"...[Freeman gives] a fiery and compelling performance...[that] humanizes Joe Clark..." - 03/03/1989 New York Times, p.C16
"...Coolly photographed....[Freeman] gives a tough, taut performance..." - 03/03/1989 USA Today, p.4D
"...Freeman embodies all the purported strengths of the real-life Clark and gives an uncompromising [performance]....Avildsen knows how to pull the right strings..." - 02/01/1989 Variety
"...[Freeman] has a seemingly limitless range, quicksilver modulation, surprise, a dry humor and a watchful intelligence..." - 03/08/1989 Los Angeles Times, p.C4