Stand and Deliver Blu-ray Review

4 Stars Inspired and inspiring comedy-drama
Stand and Deliver Review

A dedicated educator inspires a classroom full of malcontents in this outstanding drama, Stand and Deliver.

Stand and Deliver (1988)
Released: 11 Mar 1988
Rated: PG
Runtime: 103 min
Director: Ramón Menéndez
Genre: Biography, Drama
Cast: Edward James Olmos, Estelle Harris, Mark Phelan
Writer(s): Ramón Menéndez, Tom Musca
Plot: The story of Jaime Escalante, a high school teacher who successfully inspired his dropout-prone students to learn calculus.
IMDB rating: 7.3
MetaScore: 77

Disc Information
Studio: Warner Brothers
Distributed By: Warner Archive
Video Resolution: 1080P/AVC
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
Audio: English 2.0 DTS-HDMA
Subtitles: English SDH
Rating: PG
Run Time: 1 Hr. 43 Min.
Package Includes: Blu-ray
Case Type: keep case
Disc Type: BD50 (dual layer)
Region: All
Release Date: 03/26/2024
MSRP: $21.99

The Production: 4/5

The profession of teaching is both a noble and a difficult one. Over the years, a handful of films have dealt seriously with the dedication (Good Morning, Miss Dove), the courage (Blackboard Jungle), the intestinal fortitude (Up the Down Staircase), and the care and persistence (To Sir, with Love) it takes to be a really effective educator. To this list can also be added Ramón Menéndez’s Stand and Deliver, an engrossing and sometimes touching reminder that great things can be accomplished when a teacher cares enough about children who, despite their environments, distractions, and negative influences, can be reached if the desire to succeed is firmly planted within them.

Hired to teach computer science in a low-income barrio school without computers, Jaime Escalante (Edward James Olmos) is assigned instead to teach remedial math classes to Hispanic neighborhood children who are unmotivated to think past minimum wage jobs if they even manage to finish high school. Convinced quickly that his students have much more potential than they could ever dream for themselves, he adopts unconventional teaching methods to try to turn street gang members and barely literate-in-English pupils into students who can handle algebra. Expecting even more from his best class, he demands to teach calculus to prepare his students to take the APT exam in calculus for college credit in order to make them think of education beyond a high school diploma.

The screenplay by producer Tom Musca and director Ramón Menéndez deals with real-life Los Angeles teacher Jaime Escalante who took a class of rowdy delinquents and turned them into mathematics scholars. The journey to their APTs is not an easy one with distractions of one kind or another facing many of the students and then later because their results are too good, the outrageous suspicion of cheating on the flimsiest of evidence. For some of the kids, the parents aren’t interested in their children advancing any farther than they have done; for others, their street cred is more important than advancing themselves toward a brighter future. The script tackles many (but not all) of the conflicts the students are facing while offering for Edward James Olmos the chance to really showboat spectacularly in burrowing through the defensive shells of so many of his students and finding ways (bullying, teasing, praising, intimidating) into their souls that make them want to excel in his class. The screenplay does try to its detriment to show us life outside the classroom: part-time jobs (for the teacher as well as for the students; it even leads to a disturbing heart attack sequence as Escalante pushes himself too hard in trying to be too many things to too many people), street gang pranks, and teenage love affairs that just don’t have the time to be satisfyingly developed.

Edward James Olmos was Oscar-nominated for his inspired work as Jaime Escalante, but his showy performance wouldn’t be half as effective if he didn’t have a variety of younger personalities on whom to bounce off his creative ways into their psyches. Lou Diamond Phillips as street tough Angel Guzman is equally impressive (he and Olmos both won Independent Spirit Awards for their performances) as the student who needs two sets of books: one for home and one for school so his fellow gangsters won’t know he’s studying at home. Vanessa Marquez is especially touching as the very bright Ana Delgado whose father (James Victor) thinks waitressing is a fine occupation for her to strive to achieve. Will Gotay as grease monkey Pancho Garcia and Ingrid Oliu as his girl friend Lupe Escobar also make strong impressions. Rosana De Soto is quietly supportive as Jaime’s loving wife Fabiola (another Independent Spirit Award winner). Lydia Nicole casts a negative voice as haughty math department head Rafaela Fuentes who questions the sensibility of teaching calculus to barrio students. Andy Garcia and Rif Hutton enter the film late as arrogant representatives of the Educational Testing Service who question the legitimacy of the scores of Jaime’s students.

Video: 5/5

3D Rating: NA

The film has been framed at its original theatrical aspect ratio of 1.85:1 and is presented in 1080p resolution using the AVC codec. The film is clean and sharp with excellent contrast. Color saturation levels are perfection with very realistic flesh tones. The movie has been divided into 20 chapters.

Audio: 5/5

The DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 sound mix is monophonic in nature, but the fidelity is strong and solid. Dialogue has been recorded most securely and has been combined with Craig Safan’s background music and the various sound effects with professional surety. There are no problems with age-related artifacts like hiss, pops, crackle, or flutter.

Special Features: 1/5

Theatrical Trailer (1:17, HD)

Overall: 4/5

Winner of six Independent Spirit Awards including Best Film and Best Director, Ramón Menéndez’s Stand and Deliver makes for an inspired and inspiring watch. The Warner Archive Blu-ray release is an excellent one with very film-like picture and sound. Recommended!

Matt has been reviewing films and television professionally since 1974 and has been a member of Home Theater Forum’s reviewing staff since 2007, his reviews now numbering close to three thousand. During those years, he has also been a junior and senior high school English teacher earning numerous entries into Who’s Who Among America’s Educators and spent many years treading the community theater boards as an actor in everything from Agatha Christie mysteries to Stephen Sondheim musicals.

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Lord Dalek

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Joel Henderson
"The DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 sound mix is monophonic in nature..."

Well...yeah. Stand and Deliver was never in stereo. Side effect of being made for television and getting promoted to theatrical.
 

Bryan^H

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A great film like this that has never had a BD sell only 200+ copies on Amazon the first couple weeks is a bit depressing.
 

Stephen_J_H

All Things Film Junkie
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Stephen J. Hill
I haven't seen this since the VHS days, but I remember it being really good. Glad that Warner Archive is releasing this.
 
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