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Stand and Deliver
Walking on Water
11 Mar 1988
Premiere screening in Los Angeles: 26 Feb 1988 at Mann's Chinese Theater; Los Angeles opening: 11 Mar 1988; New York opening: 18 Mar 1988
began 1 Apr 1987 in Los Angeles, CA
Duration (in mins):
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Edward James Olmos
Lou Diamond Phillips
Rosana De Soto
(Heavy metal boy)
(Heavy metal boy)
Irene Olga Lopez
(Jaime Escalante, Jr.)
David Brian Abalos
At James A. Garfield High School in Los Angeles, California, Jaime Escalante arrives for his first day teaching computer science. However, a jaded administrator named Raquel Ortega informs him that the school never received funding for computers, and Jaime is re-assigned to teach math. His students are rowdy, and some only speak Spanish. Jaime struggles to gain control of the class. After school, he discovers his car has been broken into and the stereo stolen. Taking out the trash at home, Jaime runs into his neighbor, Joe, and surprises him with the news that he quit his high-paying, corporate job to become a teacher. One day in class, Jaime dresses up in a chef’s hat and cuts up apples to demonstrate percentages, disarming the students with his gruff demeanor and witty asides. Two gang members, Chuco and Angel, interrupt the lesson as they arrive late. Jaime asks Chuco to stay after class, but Angel returns with more gang members to intimidate him. Outside school, Jaime sees Chuco engaging in a brawl and stops Angel from joining. At the next class, Jaime forces Angel to answer a simple math question, and Angel begins to participate along with the other students. At an administrative meeting, Principal Joe Goodell announces that Garfield is at risk of being put on probation for poor academics. Jaime clashes with Raquel Ortega when he argues that students will rise to the level of expectation presented by their teachers. Back in class, Jaime passes out a quiz, and Angel leaves with Chuco. Later, Angel admits he wants to study, but he cannot be seen by his fellow gang members carrying books. In turn, Jaime gives Angel three math books so that he can keep them at home and school. When a hard-working, soft-spoken student named Ana Delgado reveals that she must quit school to work at her father’s restaurant, Jaime takes his wife, Fabiola, there for dinner. After the meal, Jaime confronts Mr. Delgado, who is proud of his business and wants his family members to work there. However, Delgado eventually changes his mind, and Ana is allowed to return to school. The class takes a field trip to the computer company where Jaime’s neighbor Joe works, and Jaime is surprised to learn that Joe’s teenaged daughter studies calculus. At the next administrative meeting, Jaime announces that he wants to teach calculus so his students can take the Advanced Placement examination and earn college credit. Although Goodell is in favor of the idea, Ortega feels strongly that the students will fail and lose confidence in themselves. With Goodell’s support, Jaime teaches math over summer break so his students will be ready for calculus in the fall. Although he must teach in the school locker room with no air conditioning, the students suffer through the heat. At the start of the next school year, Jaime passes out waivers for his students’ parents to sign, allowing them to come to school one hour early on weekdays and attend on weekends. The students have a hard time conforming to the demanding schedule, and one day, Angel shows up late after taking his ailing grandmother to a doctor. Jaime, who is also exhausted, refuses to listen to Angel’s excuse and orders him to leave. At home, Fabiola complains about all the extra work Jaime has taken on, informing their two sons that their father has agreed to teach night classes for no pay. Angel shows up at the front door with his grandmother, hoping that Jaime will forgive him, and Jaime ushers the older woman in while accusing Angel of being manipulative. At one of his night classes, Jaime teaches English to Spanish-speaking adults but walks out of class when he begins to feel ill. Outside, he topples over from a heart attack. While Jaime convalesces, his students have a substitute teacher, Mr. Schloss, who knows nothing about calculus. Although the doctor orders Jaime to avoid job-related activity for a month, he returns to Garfield early, helping the class prepare for the Advanced Placement examination. After taking the test, the students celebrate by going to the beach. Sometime later, test results reveal that all eighteen students passed the exam, meaning Garfield had more students pass than any other high school. Joe Goodell congratulates the class by making a special announcement, and the students present Jaime with a plaque. Soon afterward, Jaime learns his students are being investigated for cheating. Dr. Ramirez and Dr. Pearson of the Educational Testing Service question the class, but no one admits to breaking any rules. Jaime finds a fake letter of resignation someone slipped inside his schoolbooks and discovers his car has been stolen from the school parking lot. After walking home, he laments to Fabiola that the students have lost confidence. Angel appears outside, and Jaime is heartened to see that Angel stole his car only to fix it up. Jaime confronts Pearson and Martinez, who suggest that his students re-take the test. Jaime contends that the students were targeted because of race and socioeconomic status, but Pearson claims there were uncannily similar mistakes made on multiple tests. Even though Jaime does not want to comply, he encourages the students to re-test and helps them study with only one day’s notice before the exam. When the new tests are scored, Jaime and the students are redeemed by another set of excellent scores, with all eighteen students passing a second time.
An American Playhouse® Theatrical Film
A Menendez/Musca & Olmos Production
Warner Bros. Pictures
(A Warner Communications company)
(1st asst dir)
(2d asst dir)
(Addl 2d asst dir)
(Addl 2d asst dir)
(Dir of photog)
(1st asst cam)
(2d asst cam)
(Addl cam op)
(Best boy elec)
Russ St. John
John St. John
(Best boy grip)
A. Jay Vetter
(Asst art dir)
Lisa De Alva
(Set dressing supv)
Yvonne M. Cervantes
(Supv sd ed)
(Sd eff ed)
(Asst sd ed)
Cinema Research Corp.
(Titles and opt eff)
(Mr. Olmos' hair des)
Ima Aparicio Watkins
Dern, Mason & Floum
"I Want You," composed by Keith Clark, performed by Zander Schloss & Keith Clark; "Pocho Jarocho," composed and performed by Marcos Loya; "Cada Quien Por Su Camino," composed by Raquel Perez, performed by Raquel Perez & Mariachi Califas; "Contrabando Del Paso," performed by Marcos Loya & Jacinto Guevara.
"Stand And Deliver," written by Richard Page, Steve George and John Lang, performed by Mr. Mister, courtesy of RCA Records; "El Lay," lyrics by W. Herrón & Gronk, performed by Los Illegals, courtesy of A&M Records; "Secret Society," lyrics by Willie Herrón, music by W. Herrón & M. Valdez, performed by Los Illegals, courtesy of A&M Records; "Vamonos Pál Norte," lyrics & music by Marcos Loya, performed by Marcos Loya, Raquel Perez & Jacinto Guevara; "Wake Up John," lyrics & music by W. Herrón, performed by Los Illegals, courtesy of A&M Records; "Psycho Cha-Cha," lyrics & music by W. Herrón, performed by Los Illegals.
Warner Brothers, Inc.
Prints by Technicolor®
East Los Angeles (CA)
High school students
In the opening scene of the film, in which “Jaime Escalante” reports for his first day of work as a teacher at Garfield High School, a title card reads: “Based on a true story.” In the closing scene, the following written statements are superimposed over an image of Escalante walking down the school’s hallway: “In 1982 Garfield H.S. had 18 students pass the A.P. Calculus Exam”; “In 1983 Garfield H.S. had 31 students pass the A.P. Calculus Exam”; “In 1984 Garfield H.S. had 63 students pass the A.P. Calculus Exam”; “In 1985 Garfield H.S. had 77 students pass the A.P. Calculus Exam”; “In 1986 Garfield H.S. had 78 students pass the A.P. Calculus Exam”; “In 1987 Garfield H.S. had 87 students pass the A.P. Calculus Exam.”
End credits include the following statements: “This film was made possible by grants from Arco, The National Science Foundation, The Ford Foundation and produced in association with American Playhouse® and KCET, Los Angeles, with funds from Public Television Stations, The Corporation for Public Broadcasting, the National Endowment for the Arts and the Chubb Group of Insurance Companies”; “This film would not have been possible without the cooperation of the following: Garfield High School, East Los Angeles; The Los Angeles Unified School District; The East Los Angeles Gang Violence Reduction Center; The Educational Testing Service, Princeton, New Jersey”; “Special Thanks: The Escalante Family; Larry Bershon; Phylis Geller; Henry Gradillas; Henry Ramos; Elizabeth Martin; Caren A. Grown; Al Galvadon; Ben Saiz; The LaVoy Johnson Family; Steve Ostro; KMEX; KALI; the Garfield A.P. Class of 1982 and the people of East Los Angeles”; “Promotional consideration supplied by Pepsi-Cola Company”; and, “Dedicated to the memory of: Chantica Camejo, 1971-1987; Martin Olvera, 1964-1987.”
According to production notes in AMPAS library files, writer Tom Musca spent time observing Jaime Escalante teaching at Garfield High School in preparation for writing the script.
The film was originally titled
Walking on Water,
as noted in several contemporary sources, including the 12 Feb 1988
review, and screened under that title at the Mill Valley Film Festival in Oct 1987. According to a 17 Mar 1988
“Hollywood Report” column, Warner Bros. changed the title to
Stand and Deliver
after acquiring distribution rights, also adding the song “Stand and Deliver” by Mr. Mister to end credits.
Writer-director Ramon Menendez first became interested in Jaime Escalante’s story after reading an
article about the controversial re-testing of Escalante’s calculus students. Menendez gave the article to his writing partner and fellow graduate of UCLA Film School, Tom Musca. After convincing Escalante to option the rights to his story for one dollar, Menendez and Musca took the project to independent producers and television networks for financing. After several rejections, they received development money from
at PBS, which provided $500,000 in partial funding in exchange for PBS licensing rights, as noted in a 27 Nov 1987
article. Other financiers included the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, Arco, the National Science Foundation, the Ford Foundation, Atlantic Richfield, and the National Endowment for the Arts.
As stated in production notes, actor Edward James Olmos first met Escalante at a NAACP awards ceremony where Olmos was honored for humanitarian work in the arts and Escalante was honored for education. Years later, Olmos’s lawyer sent him a newspaper clipping about Escalante, suggesting that the story would make a good film. Before Olmos had time to consider developing the project himself, Menendez and Musca reached out to him to star. Olmos, who was living in Miami, FL, and working as a series regular on
(NBC, 16 Sep 1984--26 Jul 1989) at the time, prepared for the role by studying videotapes of Escalante in the classroom and speaking to him over the phone regularly. According to a 14 Mar 1988
article, the actor gained forty pounds, had his hair cosmetically thinned and, six weeks before principal photography began, he came to Los Angeles to shadow Escalante for eighteen hours a day and live in his home, as stated in a 9 Mar 1988
article. Olmos also requested that Escalante be present on set at all times, as he planned to mirror his subject as exactly as possible. In reference to the script, Escalante claimed the film was ninety-percent accurate, as noted in the 24 Mar 1988
Christian Science Monitor,
with only small details changed and some characters composited.
For the role of “Angel,” Olmos suggested actor Lou Diamond Phillips after working with him on
Menendez and Musca watched an advance copy of
(1987), in which Phillips played Latino singer Ritchie Valens, before casting him. In preparation for his role, Phillips was aided by production assistant Daniel Villareal, an East Los Angeles native who showed him around the inner city and relayed stories from his high school days. When Menendez took notice of Villareal on set, the P.A. was cast as Angel’s gang-leader friend, “Chuco.”
Principal photography began 1 Apr 1987, as noted in 28 Apr 1987
production charts. The six-week non-union shoot took place primarily in East Los Angeles, where Garfield High School stood in for itself. The production budget was $1.35 million, according to a 19 Jun 1988
After screening at the Mill Valley Film Festival, the film garnered attention from several major studios, including Columbia Pictures, Universal Pictures, Paramount, Fox, and Disney. According to the 27 Nov 1987
filmmakers made an agreement with Warner Bros. based on the studio’s genuine interest in the project and such previous “long-shot successes,” such as 1981’s
Chariots of Fire
The Killing Fields.
Although the 19 Jun 1988
stated that Warner Bros. acquired worldwide distribution rights for $3.5 million, other contemporary sources, including the 17 Feb 1988
review, cited the figure as $5 million. As of mid-Jun 1988,
reported that promotional costs had amounted to $6.5 million
A benefit premiere was held 26 Feb 1988 at Mann’s Chinese Theater in Hollywood, CA, with proceeds going toward the Jaime Escalante Calculus Program and Garfield High School Alumni Association Scholarship Fund, according to a 25 Feb 1988
news item. When the film opened 11 Mar 1988 in Los Angeles on only thirty screens, it grossed $411,884, taking in an impressive per screen average of $13,729, as stated in the 17 Mar 1988
One week later,
Stand and Deliver
was released on twenty-nine screens in New York City, and on 1 Apr 1988, the release expanded to 362 screens in Los Angeles and San Francisco, CA; Florida, Texas, and Oklahoma. According to
a wider release would take place 15 Apr 1988, on 750 screens across the U.S.
Critical reception was largely positive. Calling it a “gutty little underdog film,”
singled out the performances by Olmos, Phillips, and Will Gotay, who played “Pancho.” Olmos was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actor in a Leading Role and Golden Globe Award for Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture Drama, and Lou Diamond Phillips was nominated for a Golden Globe Award for Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role in a Motion Picture. As announced in the 27 Mar 1989
the film won six out of ten Independent Spirit Awards, including: Best Picture, Best Director, Best Screenplay, Best Male Lead (Olmos), Best Supporting Male (Phillips), and Best Supporting Female (Rosana De Soto).
Due to the popularity of
Stand and Deliver,
Garfield High School officials claimed Escalante’s class suffered a “worrisome drop” in test scores in 1988, as Escalante was overextended with promoting the film and classroom visits from high-profile figures including then Vice President George H.W. Bush and his wife, Barbara, according to a 22 Feb 1990
article. Over time, Escalante butted heads with the school over his increasingly “oversubscribed” calculus classes and jealousy from other teachers, as noted in the teacher’s 1 Apr 2010
obituary, and eventually left in 1991, taking another high school teaching position in Sacramento, CA.
A 28 Mar 1989
news brief reported that on 15 Mar 1989, the film aired on Los Angeles public television station KCET during a pledge drive and became the station’s “highest-rated pledge special and…second highest-rated program in station history,” to that time. The broadcast helped raise $162,562 for KCET and earned a 10.3 Nielsen rating.
Citing “breach of contract and conspiracy regarding his contract,” actor James Victor, who played “Ana’s father,” sued the film’s producers for $3 million and sought an injunction against theatrical release, as noted in a 9 Mar 1988
news brief. Although Victor claimed the producers owed him “front-end credits,” a Superior Court judge refused to hear his case and denied the injunction request.
Christian Science Monitor
24 Mar 1988.
16 Feb 1988
p. 3, 10.
25 Feb 1988.
28 Apr 1987.
12 Feb 1988
p. 3, 9.
9 Mar 1988.
17 Mar 1988.
28 Mar 1989.
p. 18, 20-21.
9 Mar 1988.
Los Angeles Times
10 Mar 1988
Los Angeles Times
19 Jun 1988.
Los Angeles Times
27 Mar 1989.
Los Angeles Times
22 Feb 1990
Section A, p. 1, 22.
27 Nov 1987.
New York Times
18 Mar 1988
New York Times
1 Apr 2010
Section A, p. 19.
14 Mar 1988
17 Apr 1988
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