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 »
After Mr Clark is done keeping the Fire Chief out, on his way back into the school he tells Mr Darnell its good to have him back. Mr Darnell says "You should have never fired me in the first place". He never fired him. He suspended him. See more »
First Title Cards:
Once considered one of the finest schools in America, Eastside High of Paterson New Jersey, declined over the years until an offical report called it a "terrible cauldron of violence."
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strong acting helps overcome the familiarity of the material
Freeman is perfectly cast as 'Crazy' Joe Clark, a radical, newly appointed principal at a deteriorating, gang-ridden school who gets through to his students with a tough, opinionated, no-nonsense approach to the pursuit of academic excellence. The odds are stacked against him as the education board threatens to shut down Eastside High School, but with his burning desire, devoted staff and administration, and some bright students who actually want to succeed, he rallies them for what will be the final chance to save the school. Based on a true story the premise is familiar and the script has its ups and downs, but it's meaningful and acted with strength and conviction, especially Freeman who is nothing short of superb. ***
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