Lean on Me

John G. Avildsen (right) and Morgan Freeman (left) on the set of


The dedicated but tyrannical Joe Clark is appointed the principal of a decaying inner-city school that he is determined to improve.

Release Year: 1989

Rating: 7.1/10 (8,721 voted)

John G. Avildsen

Stars: Morgan Freeman, Beverly Todd, Robert Guillaume

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.


Morgan Freeman

Principal Joe Clark

Beverly Todd

Ms. Levias

Robert Guillaume

Dr. Frank Napier

Alan North

Mayor Don Bottman

Lynne Thigpen

Leonna Barrett

Robin Bartlett

Mrs. Elliott

Michael Beach

Mr. Darnell

Ethan Phillips

Mr. Rosenberg

Sandra Reaves-Phillips

Mrs. Powers

Sloane Shelton

Mrs. Hamilton

Jermaine 'Huggy' Hopkins

Thomas Sams

Karen Malina White

Kaneesha Carter

Karina Arroyave


Ivonne Coll

Mrs. Santos

Regina Taylor

Mrs. Carter

A true story about a real hero.

Release Date: 3 March 1989

Filming Locations: Paterson, New Jersey, USA

Gross: $31,906,454

Technical Specs


Did You Know?


Morgan Freeman spent time with the real-life Joe Clark to capture his mannerisms and sayings.


Factual errors:
The practice exam booklet reads "New Jersey Minimun Basic Skills Tests"…probably the last place the school board (or the film's producers) would want a spelling error.


Joe Clark:
[after asking teachers to put up their hands]
Because you are failing to educate them, this is the posture that many of our students will wind up in. Only they'll be staring down the barrel of a gun!

User Review

One of the most inspiring movies i've seen….

Rating: 10/10

I recently rented this movie because I am a huge Morgan Freeman fan,
and I was amazed at how inspiring it was. Freeman is truly amazing in
this movie. He is perfect for this strong part of principal at Eastside
High. His disciplined yet loving authority was fun to watch. Also in
the cast, Mr Darnell(Michael Beach) and Dr. Frank Napier(Robert
Guillaume) along with Joe Clark(Morgan Freeman) were probably the most
dominant actors. There was also a great supporting cast as listed
above. Mayor Don Bottman(Alan North) played the perfect power hungry
politician for this movie.

I would recommend this movie to anyone out there. I truly believe it
belongs in the top 250.