The Principal (1987)

R | 108 mins | Drama | 18 September 1987

Director:

Christopher Cain

Writer:

Frank Deese

Producer:

Thomas H. Brodek

Cinematographer:

Arthur Albert

Editor:

Jack Hofstra

Production Designer:

Mark Billerman

Production Company:

Doric Productions
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HISTORY

The Principal was filmed on the campus of the abandoned Merritt College in Oakland, CA. Promotional materials in AMPAS library files indicate the building was constructed in 1923 as an experimental high school and eventually became a primarily black university. The Merritt College campus was closed in the mid 1970s because of the potential for earthquake damage as the buildings were not up to state seismic requirements.
       Production crews worked for eight weeks getting the Merritt College buildings ready for the film shoot. A group of local street artists was hired to paint murals and spray paint graffiti throughout the school building. The graffiti was considered integral to the film since gangs use it to depict territory. Hundreds of locals and several gangs were hired to serve as extras. To keep the extras and crowds of onlookers in order, members of the Oakland chapter of Hell’s Angels were hired as production assistants.
       Principal photography began on 2 Feb 1987 according to the 27 Feb 1987 DV production chart. The 4 Mar 1987 Var reported the film had an $11 million budget. Other locations included Northgate High School in Walnut Creek, CA, which served as the affluent Willoughby High where “Rick” was initially teaching, and Johnny B. Goode’s bar in Alameda, CA, which was used as the bar where “Rick” spots his ex-wife, “Kimberly,” on a date.
       The Principal opened on 1,196 screens on 18 Sep 1987, earning $4.7 million in its first three days of release, the 22 Sep 1987 DV reported.
       End credits state: “The Producer wishes to thank the following companies and individuals ... More Less

The Principal was filmed on the campus of the abandoned Merritt College in Oakland, CA. Promotional materials in AMPAS library files indicate the building was constructed in 1923 as an experimental high school and eventually became a primarily black university. The Merritt College campus was closed in the mid 1970s because of the potential for earthquake damage as the buildings were not up to state seismic requirements.
       Production crews worked for eight weeks getting the Merritt College buildings ready for the film shoot. A group of local street artists was hired to paint murals and spray paint graffiti throughout the school building. The graffiti was considered integral to the film since gangs use it to depict territory. Hundreds of locals and several gangs were hired to serve as extras. To keep the extras and crowds of onlookers in order, members of the Oakland chapter of Hell’s Angels were hired as production assistants.
       Principal photography began on 2 Feb 1987 according to the 27 Feb 1987 DV production chart. The 4 Mar 1987 Var reported the film had an $11 million budget. Other locations included Northgate High School in Walnut Creek, CA, which served as the affluent Willoughby High where “Rick” was initially teaching, and Johnny B. Goode’s bar in Alameda, CA, which was used as the bar where “Rick” spots his ex-wife, “Kimberly,” on a date.
       The Principal opened on 1,196 screens on 18 Sep 1987, earning $4.7 million in its first three days of release, the 22 Sep 1987 DV reported.
       End credits state: “The Producer wishes to thank the following companies and individuals for their contributions to this motion picture: American Honda Motorcycles; Doheny Travel; American Airlines; The Oakland Chapter of the Hell’s Angels; the City of Oakland, California and its mayor, Lionel J. Wilson.”
More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Daily Variety
27 Feb 1987.
---
Daily Variety
22 Sep 1987.
---
Hollywood Reporter
17 Sep 1987
p. 3, 6.
Los Angeles Times
19 Sep 1987
p. 9.
New York Times
18 Sep 1987
p. 14.
Variety
4 Mar 1987
p. 28.
Variety
23 Sep 1987
p. 13.
CAST
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
and
as Treena Lester
+
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXTS
Tri-Star Pictures presents
A Doric Production
A Christopher Cain Film
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Unit prod mgr
1st asst dir
2d asst dir
PRODUCER
WRITER
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
1st asst cam
2d asst cam
Addl photog
Gaffer
Elec best boy
Key grip
Dolly grip
Still photog
ART DIRECTOR
Art dir
FILM EDITORS
Asst film ed
Apprentice film ed
Apprentice film ed
Negative cutting
SET DECORATORS
Set dec
Set dresser
Set dresser
Set dresser
Leadman
Prop master
Asst prop master
Asst prop master
Const coord
Set painter
COSTUMES
Cost supv
Costumer
Costumer
MUSIC
Mus supv
Mus ed
Mus rec
SOUND
Supv sd ed
Sd ed
Sd ed
Foley ed
Asst sd ed
Asst sd ed
Re-rec mixer
Re-rec mixer
Re-rec mixer
Prod sd mixer
Boom op
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec eff supv
Spec eff
Opticals
MAKEUP
Makeup adv
Makeup artist
Hairstylist
PRODUCTION MISC
Casting
Post prod supv
Loc mgr
Loc contact
Scr supv
Casting asst
Extras casting
Extras casting
Transportation coord
Transportation capt
Craft service
Prod accountant
Asst accountant
Prod coord
Asst prod coord
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Asst to Mr. Cain
Asst to Mr. Brodek
Physical training -- "Body by Jake"
Post prod facilities
COLOR PERSONNEL
Col
San Francisco
SOURCES
SONGS
“Livin’ In The Line Of Fire,” written by Jay Gruska, Bruce Roberts, and Andy Goldmark
“Straight Into The Fire,” written by Jay Gruska and Jon Lind
“Our Own Eyes,” written by Jay Gruska and Paul Gordon
+
SONGS
“Livin’ In The Line Of Fire,” written by Jay Gruska, Bruce Roberts, and Andy Goldmark
“Straight Into The Fire,” written by Jay Gruska and Jon Lind
“Our Own Eyes,” written by Jay Gruska and Paul Gordon
“Morning Light,” written by Jay Gruska
“Gotta Get Air,” performed by the Surf M.C.’s, courtesy of Profile Records, Inc.
“Jingo,” performed by Jellybean, courtesy of Chrysalis Records
“Woman’s Touch,” performed by John Waite, courtesy of EMI America Records, a division of Capitol Records, Inc.
“Hello Heaven,” performed by Rob Jungklas, courtesy of Manhattan Records, a division of Capitol Records, Inc.
“Set It Off,” performed by Strafe, courtesy of Jus Born Productions.
+
PERFORMERS
+
DETAILS
Release Date:
18 September 1987
Premiere Information:
Los Angeles and New York openings: 18 September 1987
Production Date:
2 February--4 April 1987
Copyright Claimant:
Tri-Star Pictures, Inc.
Copyright Date:
25 November 1987
Copyright Number:
PA357842
Physical Properties:
Sound
Dolby Stereo ® in Selected Theatres
Color
Lenses
Lenses and Panaflex® camera by Panavision®
Prints
Prints by Technicolor®
Duration(in mins):
108
MPAA Rating:
R
Country:
United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
28656
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

One night while drinking with friends, Willoughby High School teacher Rick Latimer sees his ex-wife, Kimberly, on a date with the lawyer who handled their divorce. Drunk, Rick becomes jealous, grabs a baseball bat from behind the bar, hits the lawyer with the bat, then smashes all the windows in the lawyer’s sports car. Police arrest Rick, while Kimberly reiterates that she divorced him because he refused to grow up, as this incident has just proved. Rather than suspend or fire Rick for his behavior, the school board assigns him to be the new principal at Brandel High School, an aging, inner city school that is falling apart and covered in graffiti. The student body consists largely of delinquents expelled from other schools who do not care about learning. Brandel High is controlled by two rival gangs, one headed by a white student named “White Zac,” the other by a black student named Victor Duncan. Believing he can clean up the school and clean up his image at the same time, Rick Latimer calls a school assembly and announces “no more.” No more skipping class, no more gambling, extortion, selling drugs on campus, gang intimidation, arson, robbery, or rape. As Rick gives his speech, Victor Duncan walks into the auditorium and mocks him in front of the entire student body, then announces that it is his school and he makes the rules, causing a small riot to erupt. Despite his poor start, Rick carries through with his plan and assigns teachers to act as security guards. Rick catches drug dealers selling drugs in the bathroom and flushes the drugs away. When he catches students hanging out in the halls ... +


One night while drinking with friends, Willoughby High School teacher Rick Latimer sees his ex-wife, Kimberly, on a date with the lawyer who handled their divorce. Drunk, Rick becomes jealous, grabs a baseball bat from behind the bar, hits the lawyer with the bat, then smashes all the windows in the lawyer’s sports car. Police arrest Rick, while Kimberly reiterates that she divorced him because he refused to grow up, as this incident has just proved. Rather than suspend or fire Rick for his behavior, the school board assigns him to be the new principal at Brandel High School, an aging, inner city school that is falling apart and covered in graffiti. The student body consists largely of delinquents expelled from other schools who do not care about learning. Brandel High is controlled by two rival gangs, one headed by a white student named “White Zac,” the other by a black student named Victor Duncan. Believing he can clean up the school and clean up his image at the same time, Rick Latimer calls a school assembly and announces “no more.” No more skipping class, no more gambling, extortion, selling drugs on campus, gang intimidation, arson, robbery, or rape. As Rick gives his speech, Victor Duncan walks into the auditorium and mocks him in front of the entire student body, then announces that it is his school and he makes the rules, causing a small riot to erupt. Despite his poor start, Rick carries through with his plan and assigns teachers to act as security guards. Rick catches drug dealers selling drugs in the bathroom and flushes the drugs away. When he catches students hanging out in the halls during class time, he sends them to class. History teacher Hillary Orozco and other teachers protest Rick’s actions, saying they are making progress with the students who want to be in class. However, the students Rick is forcing out of the halls and into class are disrupting things. It is “tradition” to let students who do not want to learn to linger in halls, so the others can get on with their studies. Rick argues that every student deserves an education and they cannot let the problem students slide because it is the easy thing to do. Such attitudes tear at the very foundation of the school. Rick goes to the home of single mother Treena Lester, a student he caught selling drugs. Saying she is a good student and can graduate in three months, Rick offers to tutor her each day before school starts. The next day, Rick is at school at 6 a.m., but Treena does not show up. Instead, members of Victor Duncan’s gang come to the classroom and severely beat Rick. They also disassemble Rick’s motorcycle. A bloody, beaten, and bruised Rick gets the auto mechanics class to rebuild the bike. That afternoon, Rick gets on the motorcycle and breaks up a drug deal being conducted near school. Victor’s men give chase and corner Rick, but do not shoot him as there are too many witnesses. Jake Phillips, the school’s head of security, says he can protect Rick on campus, but not off school grounds, and advises that he be careful of Victor’s gang, noting that Victor is an especially vicious man. Late one day when most people have left the school building, rival gang leader “White Zac” attacks Hillary Orozco in her classroom and attempts to rape her. Hillary throws a chair out a window which gets Rick’s attention. He rides his motorcycle into the school and up the stairs to rescue her. “White Zac” is arrested and Victor Duncan is happy no one is there to contest his reign as leader of the school. While Hillary recovers from her injuries, a substitute teacher refuses to teach such unruly students, so Rick teaches the class. He helps Arturo Diego, who can barely read, and also offers encouraging words to Emile, a member of Victor’s gang. Emile decides to leave the gang, but they retaliate by trying to hang him. Rick finds Emile before he dies and rushes him to the hospital, where he eventually recovers. Rick goes to Hillary’s home to check on her and she invites him to stay for dinner. However, a few days later, Hillary announces she has a job at a boarding school in Connecticut and will not be returning to Brandel High. Rick confronts Victor who promises to kill the principal if he shows up at school the next day. While security chief Jake Phillips advises Rick not to come to school, Rick ignores the warning and shows up. At the end of the day, many students gather outside the school, waiting for a showdown. With the school deserted except for Rick and Jake, Victor and his men go inside. They lock Jake in a storeroom, while Rick hides in the locker room. When Victor finds Rick, he tells his gang member “Jojo” to cut Rick’s face with a knife and kill him. Jojo refuses, saying he will not go to jail for killing someone. Victor holds a gun to Rick’s head, but another student knocks the gun out of his hand. Rick and Victor get into a fist fight and Rick knocks Victor out. Police arrest Victor. Stunned at their leader’s defeat, a student asks Rick who he thinks he is. Rick replies, “I’m the principal, man,” and rides away on his motorcycle.


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Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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