Lean on Me

March 3rd, 1989


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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)

Director: 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 - Maria
Ivonne Coll - Mrs. Santos
Regina Taylor - Mrs. Carter

Taglines: A true story about a real hero.

Release Date: 3 March 1989

Filming Locations: Paterson, New Jersey, USA

Gross: $31,906,454 (USA)

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.