main index




Topical Tropes

Other Categories

TV Tropes Org
Film: Stand and Deliver

Stand And Deliver is a 1988 film starring Edward James Olmos based on the true story of the late Jaime Escalante, a computer technician who became a math teacher in an Inner City School to save the students from gang violence, drugs, and the like.

Not to be confused with the catch-phrase of English highwaymen. Or the song by Adam Ant about a highwayman.

This page Needs More Love AND a little of The Wiki Magic.

This film contains examples of:

  • Badass Bookworm
  • Billing Displacement: Andy Garcia is listed third in the opening credits, yet he plays a minor role with less screen time than Rosana De Soto (plays Escalante's wife, listed fourth) or any of the actors playing the students (who are only listed at the end). Also Lou Diamond Phillips gets second billing while the actors who play Escalante's other students (Ingrid Oliu, Will Gotay) are only listed after the last scene and later during the credits.
  • Chekhov's Gun: The mistake 0 to π over 2.
  • Cool Teacher / Stern Teacher: Jaime Escalante embodied both of these tropes. While what he does is cool, he's harsh and demanding enough to be a Stern Teacher, and probably wouldn't be very fun to actually have. This is Truth in Television according to many of his former real-life students.
  • Covers Always Lie: The DVD cover of the film might lead you to think that Angel Guzman, Lou Diamond Phillips's character is the protagonist of the movie, when he's only part of an ensemble of students taught by Escalante.
  • Determinator: Escalante, after being hospitalized for a heart attack and denied to continue working, writes class notes on paper napkins and has a nurse smuggle them to his students so they can continue studying despite the incompetent substitute teacher. The students themselves go from barely understanding freshman-level algebra to passing an AP calculus exam twice, despite gang violence, institutional racism, self-doubt, poverty, and in some cases sexism.
  • Dramatization: In Real Life, Escalante didn't start teaching AP Calculus until his fourth year at the school (1978), and the events in the film (especially the accusations of cheating) are based on Escalante's fourth year teaching the course (1982). Further, only twelve of Escalante's fifteen students accused of cheating retook the exam. All of them did pass, though.
  • E = MC Hammer: Averted. Tropers who have taken AP Calculus will recognize most of the math in this movie.
  • False Confession: When one of the more vulnerable students begins to cry under interrogation by ETS investigators, Angel confesses to cheating. Specifically, his father stole the test questions and Angel killed him for his trouble. Angels tops this off by giving the location of the body: "He's decomposing in my locker."
  • Five-Token Band: Subverted; all of the students are Latino.
  • Flipping the Bird: A student does this to Escalante in an attempt to be clever. Escalante does him one better, showing him how to quickly multiply by nine on his fingers.
  • Hey, It's That Guy!: Most modern viewers would recognize Edward James Olmos as Commander Adama.
  • Inner City School
  • In-Series Nickname: The students call Escalante "Kemo," short for "Kemosabe."
  • Los Angeles
  • Obfuscating Stupidity: Angel pretends to be less intelligent than he is so that his friends will still think he's cool. He refuses to be seen bringing books to class.
  • Obstructive Bureaucrat: Raquel Ortega
  • Precision F-Strike: Escalante swears exactly once during the movie, to Ramirez (Andy Garcia), an Educational Testing Service investigator who thinks the students cheated.
    Escalante: I'm gonna prove you guys wrong!
    Ramirez: I hope you do, because this is not between you and me.
    Escalante: Maybe not, but if I catch you on the street, I'm gonna kick the shit out of you.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: Principal Molina
  • Save Our Students
  • Stay in the Kitchen: When parental permission is required (either for the summer course or the advanced classes), several of the female students face this argument from their parents. All of them manage to convince their parents otherwise.
  • Ugly Guy, Hot Wife: Escalante has a weathered face, a pot belly and a terrible combover, but his wife is beautiful. This shows the power of Escalante's mind and personality, which transcend his humble appearance.

The War of the WorldsNational Film RegistryThe Silence of the Lambs
Space MutinyFilms of the 1980sStraight Up

alternative title(s): Stand And Deliver
TV Tropes by TV Tropes Foundation, LLC is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.
Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available from
Privacy Policy