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Friday Film Fest: Morgan Freeman

Attorney for the school system, Al Lewis (Morgan Freeman) gets his point across

Attorney for the school system, Al Lewis (Morgan Freeman) gets his point across

Teachers- 1984

Sometimes when you watch a movie for the first time, you either like it or you don't, but at some point, if you didn't like it the first time, you get a hunger to want to watch it years later.

This happened to me and this movie has become one of my favorites over the years.

It's sometime in the winter and a Monday morning (remember those days?) for the students at John F. Kennedy High School. No one wants to be there as secretary Grace (Madeleine Sherwood) tells Vice Principal Roger Rubell (Judd Hirsch) that ten percent of the teachers have called in sick. He has her call in the substitutes and when she calls one of them, outpatient Herbert Gower (Richard Mulligan) answers the phone and tells her that he's the teacher she's looking for.

She also calls social studies teacher Alex Jurel (Nick Nolte) to see if he plans on coming in, since he's already late for school and has the reputation for not showing up until the second period on a Monday.

Former student, turned attorney Lisa Hammond (Jo Beth Williams) comes into the office and tells Roger that she's going to hold depositions at the school since the teachers can't seem to remember. The school is being sued by another former student who graduated without knowing how to read.

Following the hectic day at school, Roger and Alex get back to Alex's apartment after spending the non school hours drinking.

Not wanting unfavorable publicity, Superintendent Dr. Donna Burke (Lee Grant) and school attorney Al Lewis (Morgan Freeman) come to the school for a meeting and weed through the teachers list. They need to find the submissive teachers who'll side with the school.

With the school counselor out on a mental leave, Alex is temporarily given counselor duties along with his teaching schedule. He has to meet with Eddie Pilikian (Ralph Macchio) who's a chronic truant and troublemaker. Alex discovers that Eddie can't read, which has gotten the school into the trouble it's currently in.

He reassigns him into his class where he hopes to get through to him and in doing so, he strikes up a friendship with popular student Diane (Laura Dern) who's been having an affair with gym teacher Troy (Art Metrano). She comes to Alex when she finds out that she's pregnant.

Burke catches wind of it and Troy is sent away, but when she finds out that Alex helped with Diane's abortion, she wants him fired immediately.

Alex doesn't know that the lawsuit has been settled out of court and when he shows up for his deposition, Burke wants him to resign.

After he returns to his classroom, Lisa comes in and finds him packing up his things. She argues the fact that he's a teacher and shouldn't resign as the students start to come.

They feel let down as he's told them to stand up for their rights and he's going against his own advice.


Having gotten what he wanted, Fast Black, sets out to teach reporter Jonathan Fisher (Christopher Reeve) a lesson

Having gotten what he wanted, Fast Black, sets out to teach reporter Jonathan Fisher (Christopher Reeve) a lesson

Street Smart- 1987

At a pitch meeting with his editor, Jonathan Fisher (Christopher Reeve) is failing miserably and comes up with an idea to profile a Times Square pimp. He tells Ted (Andre Gregory) that it would be a look at the day in a life of a pimp.

Ted likes the idea and wants to know who he knows. Jonathan tells him that he knows a lot of them, but in actuality doesn't. That night, he wanders around Times Square looking for a pimp.

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He meets Punchy (Kathy Baker) and the two talk in a restaurant. She tells him that she doesn't have a pimp and the two go their separate ways.

That same night, Leo "Fast Black" Smalls, Jr. assaults a john (Richard Mullally) in a hotel room with one of his girls (Marie Barrientos) who has a fatal heart attack.

Since he didn't have any luck on the streets, his girlfriend Alison (Mimi Rogers) suggests that they go out together. She thinks it'll be fun if she acts as bait for a pimp and she's right when she meets Solo (Rick Aviles). He takes her into a booth at the bar and threatens her.

Jonathan manages to get her out of the bar and later when they're home, he still doesn't have a story, so he decides to make one up. The next morning, Alison thinks the story is a smash and she asks him how he came up with such a piece. He tells her what he did and on Monday morning, Ted raves about the story as well.

Even though he made up the story, he referred to the pimp as Fast Black and with a murder conviction hanging over him, the real Fast Black tells his lawyer that he has no idea who this reporter is and that they had never met. Punchy, however, mentions that she had talked to him.

With his rave reviews of the story, Jonathan's offered a position with the local television news where he hosts a segment called Street Smart. He has a lot of ideas and of course it becomes a successful segment.

Ted wants to feature more articles about Fast Black and the Assistant District Attorney Leonard Pike (Jay Patterson) wants Jonathan's notes. He stalls with both requests, but he runs into Punchy and she takes him to meet the real Fast Black.

He hangs around with him and sees his bad side when they go to Harriet's (Anna Maria Horsford) apartment and she tells him that Darlene (Shari Hilton) has been skimming money from him. They find her and when he gets her in the car, he threatens to cut her face if he finds out that she's holding out on him.

Punchy and Jonathan become romantically involved and when they're invited to a fundraiser at Ted's house, Alison is disgusted with Jonathan since the "pimp and whore" seem to be the main attraction. She leaves and when he comes home, she's packing.

After leaving him, he's sent to jail because he won't turn over his notes and after being released, Fast Black wants him to lie to Pike. He wants him to make up notes and then tell him that the two were together the night of the assault.

Fast Black's second in command, Reggie (Erik King) stabs Alison outside a market and Jonathan has an idea who was behind the attack. He has Darlene help him with a setup for Reggie and while leery, agrees to it.

He gives her $200 and has her give it to Reggie, telling him that it's from Fast Black. From his news van, he has his cameraman document the transaction and when Reggie comes out of the restaurant, he calls for him.

Reggie's fascinated by the news equipment, and he shows him the footage that was just filmed. He takes off and when Fast Black is out looking for him, he thinks that he's going to kill him for taking money and doing "side work" on his own.

Jonathan reports on the arrest of Reggie as he's being taken away in handcuffs.

Jim comforts Kenny (Michael Goorjian) in his final moments

Jim comforts Kenny (Michael Goorjian) in his final moments

Hard Rain- 1998

Over the years, I'm starting to think that I'm a distant cousin of the Addams Family since I like those gloomy rainy days, but I don't know if I could handle all of the water if the rain didn't stop.

Due to heavy rain, the town of Huntingburg, Indiana has been evacuated along with the threat of the local dam overflowing.

Residents Doreen and Henry Sears (Betty White and Richard Dysart) refuse to leave since the last time the city flooded, their house and store had been ransacked. Also staying behind is Karen (Minnie Driver) who's been preserving the windows of the church.

Armored car drivers Tom (Christian Slater) and his Uncle Charlie (Ed Asner) are heading out of town when they get stuck in the rising water.

What they don't know is that their truck is being targeted by a rogue gang of thieves, led by Jim. The gang (Michael Goorjian, Dann Florek and Ricky Harris) ambushes them and after shooting Charlie, Tom escapes with the cash from the truck.

Once they find Charlie's been killed, Jim scolds Kenny (Goorjian) and they find out that the money is gone. They now have to look for Tom and after stealing a boat and jet ski's Kenny and Ray (Harris) chase Tom through the halls of the local middle school.

Tom manages to get away and heads for the church where Karen, thinking he's a looter, knocks him out. When he regains consciousness, he's in a jail cell as he tells Sherriff Collig (Randy Quaid) about the attempted robbery and the murder of Charlie. He and Deputy Wayne Bryce (Mark Ralston) get into their boat to look for the gang and Deputy Phil (Peter Murnik) is told to take Karen to the evacuation center.

On the way, she pushes him out of the boat and heads back to the church.

Due to the rising water, Hank (Wayne Duvall) the dam's operator is forced to open up the spillway for the drainage of more water into the town. As the water rises, Tom is trapped in the cell and just as he's about to drown, Karen is able to rescue him from an opening on the roof.

They hide in a car and eventually seek refuge at the Sears' house, where Doreen wants to blow them away because she thinks they're looters. Henry gives them a boat and they make their way to the cemetery where Tom's hit the money.

After a shootout, Jim and Tom make it back to the church to hide from Collig and Wayne takes Karen back to her house, where he intends to rape her.

The dam collapses and as the town is overrun by the wave that hits, Tom manages to save Karen and once the State Police arrive, Tom turns a blind eye as Jim takes a bag of money.

Since a robbery wasn't "committed" the money would be untraceable and presumed lost in the floodwaters.

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