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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.

The film was added to the National Film Registry in 2011, Olmos' performance received an Oscar nomination, and the film is hailed to this day as a classic.

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


This film contains examples of:

  • A Dog Ate My Homework
  • Badass Bookworm: Escalante's whole class, but especially Escalante himself.
  • Beware the Quiet Ones: Ramirez starts out calm when addressing Escalante's stern concerns, but once pestered by Escalante finally snaps and turns into a Large Ham. "NO ONE HAS THE RIGHT TO ACCUSE ME OF RACISM!"
  • Brass Balls: Angel flashing a tattoo on his knuckles that reads "FUCK YOU" to school district officials.
  • 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.
  • Catch Phrase: "My name is Jaime Escalante."
  • Character Development: Escalante gradually gets more loving for his students, and Angel abandons his past of gang violence and becomes an excelling student.
  • 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 (he's the big center picture and sort of hard to miss), 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 / Artistic License:
    • 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.
    • In Real Life, Escalante suffered a gallbladder inflammation, not a heart attack.
  • Dude, Not Funny!: An in universe example; Escalante makes fun of a female student who's suffering personal problems, and she calls him out on it.
  • E = MC Hammer: Averted. Tropers who have taken AP Calculus will recognize most of the math in this movie.
  • The Eighties
  • False Confession: When one of the more vulnerable students begins to cry under interrogation by ETS investigators, Angel confesses to cheating. Specifically, he stole the test from the mailman and then strangled him. Angels tops this off by giving the location of the body: "He's decomposing in my locker."
  • Fanservice / Fan Disservice: In the beach scene, we see Angel in nothing but his boxers.
  • Five-Token Band: Subverted; all of the students are Latino.
  • Flipping the Bird: Chuco (a Maravilla gang member) 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.
  • Four Girl Ensemble: All four of the female students featured in the movie represent different aspects of this trope. Ana is a combination of the sweet one/smart girl due to her quiet nature and love for mathematics. Claudia is the sexy one because she "gets around" the most and is considered the school's residential beauty. Though, this trope is averted when viewers learn Claudia is more than just a face. Lupe is Team Mom because she takes care of her younger siblings while her parents are at work. Rafaela is considered the mannish one because she is shown to hang around Tito the majority of the movie and dress in masculine attire (i.e. over-sized boy shirts and pants).
  • Golden Ending: Despite Escalante's students being accused of cheating, they retake and re-pass the test. The film ends with stats shown about the rising number of students passing the AP calculus test. If that's not golden, what is?
  • Heel-Face Turn: At the start of the movie, Angel is a member of the Maravilla gang and smokes. At the end, Angel becomes a great student and is shown to have gotten one of the highest scores on the AP calculus test.
  • Hollywood Heart Attack: Escalante suffers a rather jarring one.
  • Inner City School
  • In-Series Nickname: The students call Escalante "Kemo," short for "Kemosabe."
  • Jerkass / Deadpan Snarker: Escalante by the start of the movie. One student even calls him out on his snide behavior.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold / Papa Wolf: Escalante by the end of the movie. At this point, he is now much more caring to his students and will defend them.
  • Los Angeles
  • My Name Is Inigo Montoya: "My name is Jaime Escalante" is said frequently throughout the movie as a mean of introduction.
  • 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.
  • Refuge in Audacity: "It's not that they're stupid - they just don't know anything."
  • Save Our Students
  • Shirtless Scene: See Fanservice / Fan Disservice above.
  • Smoking Is Cool: Angel and Chuco smoke.
  • Stay in the Kitchen: When parental permission is required (either for the summer course or the advanced classes), Claudia faces this argument from her mother. However, she manages to convince her mother 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.
  • We Used to Be Friends: Chuco suddenly abandoning Angel near the end of the movie.

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

alternative title(s): Stand And Deliver
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