'Lean on Me' is a biographical-drama film written by Michael Schiffer. It starred Morgan Freeman, Beverly Todd, Alan North and Robert Guillaume. The movie has been directed by John G. Avildsen and was released in the year 1989. 'Lean on Me' is based on a true story of Joe Clark, an inner city high school principal in Paterson, New Jersey. While the character of Joe Clark is original, the basic plot of the film showing that the school is in danger of being overtaken by the New Jersey state, if the students don't improve their grades, is imaginary.
Morgan Freeman spent time with Joe Clark, before the filming of the movie, in order to adopt his mannerism and sayings, with an aim of making the character appear real. After the release of this movie, Clark resigned as the principal of east Side High School, to become a motivational speaker and an author. Morgan Freeman won the Best Actor award 'Lean on Me', in 1991 NAACP Image Awards. The movie also won the award of Outstanding Motion Picture in NAACP. It even fetched a number of nominations for young artist awards.
A school in Paterson, New Jersey, is ridden by many problems like drugs and gang violence. The major problem, however, is the imminent threat lurking on the school, of being overtaken by the New Jersey state government, unless the students improve their score in the basic skills test conducted by the state itself. The movie begins with a sequence where the students go rough with the principal because he tries to intervene to stop a fight. The mayor asks the school superintendent for help, following the brawl. He suggests that they appoint the controversial Joe Clark (Morgan Freeman) as the school principal, who had served in the capacity of a teacher at the east side High some 20 years ago.
When Clark arrives, he shakes things up by expelling scores of rogue students and calling the teachers incompetent. He also fires those teachers who disagree with him, with one of his firing orders reversed by the Superintendent himself. A lot of people despise Clark him initially. However, with time, his effective, though a bit extreme efforts of saving the schools gains the respect of some of the teachers and the students. Clark is arrested in the later part of the movie after the mayor and some of his opponents conspire against him. The entire student body, at this juncture, rallies behind him and demand his release. In the end, Clark wins, with the students passing their basic skills exam.