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’s 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.
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. Belushi reprised his role as Rick Latimer in the 1990 film Abraxas, Guardian of the Universe.
The Principal (1987)
Directed by: Christopher Cain
Starring: Jim Belushi, Louis Gossett Jr., Rae Dawn Chong, Michael Wright, J.J. Cohen, Esai Morales, Troy Winbush, Jacob Vargas, Kelly Jo Minter, Reggie Johnson
Screenplay by: Frank Deese
Cinematography by: Arthur Albert
Film Editing by: Jack Hofstra
Costume Design by: Marianna Åström-De Fina
Set Decoration by: Rick Brown
Art Direction by: Mark Billerman
Music by: Jay Gruska
Distributed by: TriStar Pictures
Release Date: September 15, 1987