September 18, 2017
Attention, class! I hope you brought your books, because today’s Retrospective is on 1987’s “The Principal“.
Written by the imaginative Frank Deese, and directed by Christopher Cain, with an eye towards gritty, inner-city realism and despiration, this movie stars James Belushi in a painfully realistic role as the eponymous Principal of an inner-city high school, where crime and misbehavior is the order of the day, and learning has long since been abandoned.
The Principal, Rick Latimer, himself having misbehaved, is reassigned to the last school on the way to prison. The worst students, the most misbehaved students, they are all kicked out of other schools and sent to this one. However, Rick Latimer wants to make a difference. He wants his kids to do well. He must fight against lethargy, threats, violence, and despair, but most importantly, Rick must fight inertia. This is a story about breaking the status quo to reach a level of improvement for a better future for everyone involved. Rick creates a security team, where he leads the Janitor, Jake, played by Louis Gossett, Jr to improve the safety and behavior across the school. Rae Dawn Chong rounds out the band, playing one of the few caring teachers left in the school, Ms. Hilary Orozco.
The confrontation at the end is tense, edge-of-your-seat drama, where the Principal plays the part of the mouse in a game of cat-and-mouse with the school’s head drug-dealer. Fortunately, Jake helps out and allows the Principal to survive the day and inspire the other students, while the drug dealer, played with conviction and desperation by the great Michael Wright, must suffer the ignoble defeat of being physically thrown out of the school by the Principal in front of all the other students, who have gathered to see what happens and who survives in the cat-and-mouse game. After being physically ejected from the school building, the drug dealer is arrested and probably would spend his life on the wrong side of the law forever until he dies.