Joe Clark is a real man who really did whip a New Jersey high school into shape. I know this because I have been told it a dozen times in the past week by people who think that explains the behavior of \"Joe Clark,\" the hero of \"Lean on Me.\" But \"Lean on Me\" is not a documentary about the real Joe Clark. It is a fiction film about a character who is so troubled, obsessed and angry that the film is never able to say quite what it thinks of him. After the movie, neither are we.
Then we get an updated look at Eastside High, which has become the town's deeply troubled, mostly minority high school, where violence, drug-dealing and intimidation are facts of life, and little or no learning takes place. John Avildsen, the director, is so concerned with showing us the hell of Eastside High that he goes overboard; the corridors look like a cross between a prison riot and a Hells' Angel rally.
His first act is to call an all-school assembly, gather all the druggies and troublemakers onstage, and expel them en masse. Then he begins to stalk the school corridors, enforcing his own reign of terror. He orders all of the graffiti painted over. Fine. He orders everyone to learn the school song, on pain of expulsion. Sort of fine.
Yes, he does clean up Eastside High. And, yes, the students are able to pass a state proficiency exam, so the school can remain under local control and not be taken over by the state. But we never see how this is done. \"Stand and Deliver,\" last year's film about a dedicated Hispanic math teacher, was about a teaching and learning process. \"Lean on Me\" is about a disciplinary process. The movie's most bizarre scene has Clark onstage at a pre-exam pep rally, ranting and raving and leading the school song, as if the test were a football game. But you can't pass a test simply because your spirits are high. And I am not convinced that any kind of meaningful learning can take place under Clark's reign of public humiliation. Discipline is not the same thing as intimidation.
\"Lean on Me\" has been widely sneak-previewed, as part of the studio's marketing strategy, and I've talked with a lot of the people who have seen it. They all admit they're bothered by Clark's personality. But some argue that (a) Clark really exists, so this is a \"true\" story; (b) out-of-control high schools like Eastside need a strong administrator to whip them into shape, and (c) besides, Hollywood makes so few films like this that it's a duty to support them, no matter what we really think.
A couple of years ago I gave a good review to \"The Principal,\" a film starring James Belushi as a tough high school principal who took a baseball bat to the drug dealers. Why did I like that movie more than \"Lean on Me\" Both movies are well-made and well-acted, but \"The Principal\" is more honest about its real intentions. It's an action drama, depending on violence, comedy and a showdown to get its job done. \"Lean on Me\" wants to be taken as a serious, even noble film about an admirable man. And yet it never honestly looks at Clark for what he really is: a grownup example of the very troublemakers he hates so much, still unable even in adulthood to doubt his right to do what he wants, when he wants, as he wants. How can he teach, when he's unteachable His values have little to do with learning how to learn.
Released in 1989, Lean On Me is undoubtedly one of the classic films of Black cinema. Starring Morgan Freeman and loosely based on the life story of Joe Clark, the film details a real life, inner-city high school, East Side High, in Paterson, New Jersey, whose school is at risk of being taken over by the New Jersey state government unless students improve their test scores on the New Jersey Minimum Basic Skills Test.
Johnson had played corps style in high school, and after leaving Eastside would teach corps style at Williston Middle High School. Eastside hired a new director to teach corps style, and the band has retained corps style since.
GreatSchools is the leading nonprofit providing high-quality information that supports parents pursuing a great education for their child, schools striving for excellence, and communities working to diminish inequities in education.
Clark said the band worked to do rehearsals in a parking lot at the new school campus on Ga. Hwy. 142 but was unable to fully utilize it because the lot still was not completed on the new school's campus.
My My My, these are the songbirds that were in the lunchroom that didn't know the school song. After remaking their Alma Mater, at Eastside High School in Patterson, NJ, Riff, went on to star in the 80's film \"Lean On ME\" and lent their talents to various soundtracks which includes \"White Men Cant Jump\" Listen to my interview with the members and see what they been up too. Visit Riff on their social media profiles @riffsounds 1e1e36bf2d