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Updated: Jun 23

Review by John Larkin

I was first introduced to STAND AND DELIVER in my 8th grade english class. I forget why my teacher decided to run the film, and what connection she was attempting to make with our current curriculum, but regardless, it made an impact on me, and to this day I've never forgotten it. The film is based on the true story of Jaime Escalante, a Bolivian-American educator who taught Calculus at Garfield High School in East Los Angeles, making a pronounced impact in the lives of his students, who achieved levels of academic success far beyond anyone else's prior expectations.

I always feel a special connection to films about educators going above and beyond in a less than ideal teaching environment. My father John Larkin Sr., taught social studies for the Mount Vernon School District for 38 years and did his absolute best to make his teaching method fun and engaging for his students. I know he made an impact as I've continually witnessed his encounters with past students who are always happy to run into him and recount their fond memories of his class. What makes STAND indelible is Edward James Olmos portrayal of Escalante. Sporting the worst looking combover in film history - accurate to the real Escalante - Olmos is endlessly charming as he deflects his students initial displays of disrespect and eventually wins them over with his lively and engaging antics. The naturalism and unique eccentricity of Olmos's performance is astounding.

One of the most fascinating nuggets from both the true story and the film depiction is the accusation against Escalante's students that they cheated on the 1982 AP Calculus exam, because all the students got the same one answer wrong, the sixth question. It took a number of students to retake the test before their grades were rightfully reinstated. Ironically, the film is stronger during the first half as Olmos develops his relationships with his students, before it dips into the drama of the cheating scandal.

Warner's has done a usual stellar job on this Archive blu-ray release. The transfer is just about perfect with a healthy amount of grain and contrast levels dialed in nicely. The audio is sharp and bombastic - when the school bell rings it sounds like it's ringing in my own living room! I only wish Warner Archive would consider adding more supplemental features to their disc releases. The only extra to be found here is the original theatrical trailer. This would have been an ideal release to feature an updated interview with Olmos, Lou Diamond Phillips or an archival feature on the real Jaime Escalante. Despite that one issue, this is a great disc release of a classic must-see film and I'm happy to see it finally on blu-ray. You can purchase it directly through Amazon by clicking the cover image at the top of the review.


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