Taglines: Monday morning at JFK High.
A teacher overcomes his frustration in a high-school full of flunkies. As he attempts to educate his students, his attempts to help them gets him into trouble with the school board, which only adds to his problems. With the support of his students he beats the school board and his frustration.
Teachers is a 1984 American satirical comedy-drama film starring Nick Nolte, JoBeth Williams, Ralph Macchio, and Judd Hirsch, written by W. R. McKinney and directed by Arthur Hiller. The movie was shot in Columbus, Ohio, mostly at the former Central High School.
The film opens with a typical Monday morning at John F. Kennedy High School located in the inner city of Columbus, Ohio; “typical” events including a fight between teachers, a student with a stab wound and talk of an upcoming lawsuit. We meet haggard Vice Principal Roger Rubell (Judd Hirsch) and clueless Principal Eugene Horn (William Schallert), as well as stuffy lawyer and JFK alumna Lisa Hammond (JoBeth Williams), who is in charge of taking depositions for the Calvin case, in which a recent graduate is suing the school for granting him a diploma despite his illiteracy.
Alex Jurel (Nick Nolte) is a veteran Social Studies teacher who takes his job lightly despite being one of the most popular teachers in school because of his ability to identify and connect with the students. Jurel has been worn down by years of being in-between the rowdy students and the demands of the administration. He is assigned to temporarily take over the duties of the school psychologist (who started a fight in the office) and meets a young man named Eddie Pilikian (Ralph Macchio) to whom he becomes a mentor. During this time, a romance also develops between Jurel and Hammond, his former student.
The major plotline centers on the Calvin lawsuit, with Superintendent Donna Burke (Lee Grant) and school lawyer Al Lewis (Morgan Freeman) attempting to avoid bad publicity associated with the case. To this end, they try to figure out which teachers will potentially damage the school’s reputation in their depositions. Intertwined with the major storyline are Jurel’s efforts to reform Pilikian into a student who believes in himself.
A number of minor plotlines deviate from the primary goings-on. These include Herbert Gower (Richard Mulligan), a wandering mental institution outpatient mistaken for a substitute teacher and put in charge of a U.S. History class, whose brilliant history mind makes it fun, educational and engaging; gym teacher Mr. Troy’s sexual relationship with one of Jurel’s students, Diane Warren (Laura Dern) that ends with Jurel taking her to an abortion clinic, and the death of Eddie Pilikian’s best friend Danny Reese (Crispin Glover), a schizophrenic and kleptomaniac student who is shot and killed by the police after he draws a gun from his locker during a drug search.
Directed by: Arthur Hiller
Starring: Nick Nolte, JoBeth Williams, Judd Hirsch, Ralph Macchio, Allen Garfield, Lee Grant, Royal Dano, Laura Dern, Crispin Glover, Madeleine Sherwood, Laura Coker
Screenplay by: W.R. McKinney
Production Design by: Richard Macdonald
Cinematography by: David M. Walsh
Film Editing by: Don Zimmerman
Costume Design by: Ruth Myers
Set Decoration by: John M. Dwyer
Distributed by: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer
Release Date: October 5, 1984