The Principal

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The Principal
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Christopher Cain
Produced by Thomas H. Brodek
Written by Frank Deese
Music by Jay Gruska
Cinematography Arthur Albert
Edited by Jack Hofstra
Distributed by TriStar Pictures
Release date
  • September 15, 1987 (1987-09-15)
Running time
109 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Box office $19,734,940 (USA)

The Principal is a 1987 crime thriller action film starring Jim Belushi and Louis Gossett, Jr. It was written by Frank Deese and directed by Christopher Cain. It was filmed in Oakland, California and distributed by TriStar Pictures on Panavision. Belushi reprised his role as Rick Latimer in the 1990 film Abraxas, Guardian of the Universe.


Rick Latimer (Jim Belushi) is a high-school teacher with a drinking problem. Spotting his ex-wife Kimberly (Sharon Thomas Cain) in a bar one night, Rick gets into a fight with the man she is with, culminating in his beating the hapless man's car with a baseball bat.

The board of education finds that Rick's behavior is reflecting poorly on the school district's image. They unanimously decide to transfer him to another school, in another district: Brandel High, a crime-ridden and gang-dominated institution, where he is made the new principal.

Believing he can repair his image by cleaning up the school, Rick attempts to have an assembly to declare his intentions: "No more." No more drugs, running in the hallways or being late to class. While he's giving his speech, Victor Duncan (Michael Wright), the leader of the main gang in the school, walks in, derides Rick in front of everyone, then walks out, which eventually results in a small riot, which earns Rick the enmity of not only the teachers but also school head of security Jake (Lou Gossett Jr.).

Eventually, Rick manages to enforce his policy of getting rid of the drugs being dealt in the bathrooms and clearing out the hallways — but not always with success. Because the students are now forced to go to class, some of the more unruly students become increasingly disruptive, including White Zac (J.J. Cohen), who eventually attempts to rape one of the teachers, Ms. Orozco (Rae Dawn Chong), with whom Rick is beginning to form a close friendship.

Victor, meanwhile, continues to assert his influence on the school, going so far as to brutally beat a former member of his gang and hang him by his ankles when the member warms to Rick and actually starts learning. The clash between Rick and Victor eventually leads to a showdown in the school halls, where Jake is temporarily locked inside a supply closet while Victor and his gang hunt Rick down. In the end, Victor and Rick fight each other with their fists, with Victor seemingly having the upper hand until Rick overpowers him.

Rick beats Victor, much to the shock of the rest of the school who witness the beating. Several students cheer Rick on, much to the chagrin of Victor's gang members. After a small fight breaks out Rick again declares, "No more!" Victor is taken away in a police car, and as a student derisively asks, "Hey man, who the hell do you think you are?", Rick responds "I'm the principal, man!" and rides away on his motorcycle.


Box office[edit]

The Principal had moderate success at the box office.[1] The domestic total gross for the film was $19,734,940.[2]


In 2014, the movie was one of several discussed by Keli Goff in The Daily Beast in an article concerning white savior narratives in film.[3]


  1. ^ "Weekend Box Office". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2012-06-03. 
  2. ^ "The Principal". Retrieved August 13, 2012. 
  3. ^ Goff, Keli (May 4, 2014). "Can 'Belle' End Hollywood's Obsession with the White Savior?". The Daily Beast. Retrieved May 14, 2014. 

External links[edit]