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STAND AND DELIVER

USA, 1987 (MIFF 1988)

Director: Ramon Menendez

Independently produced as Walking on Water as an American Playhouse project, Stand and Deliver, emerges as neither exploitation dross nor action fodder despite the ambiguous title

Rather it is a heartwarming message film set in the economically depressed barriers of East Los Angeles, an area usually depicted in the Hollywood mainstream as home turf for Checch and Chong style low comedies which celebrate dubious racial stereotypes, thereby reinforcing the negative image Anglos customarily attribute to Latinos.

Based on a story, which is both true and topical, Olmos, best known as a television actor (Miami Vice} is a revelation as the single-minded teacher who tutors high school mathematics to disadvantaged Hispanic kids, several of them streetwise gang members.

With encouragement and an evolving self-esteem the students graduate to an advance placement test in calculus, much to the surprise and official scepticism of the governing school authorities

Superior in every way to the well-meaning, but shallow, La Bamba, director Menendez has shaped an upbeat, inspirational tract which seductively implies that a positive attitude can triumph despite a negative environment.

Picked up for international release by Warner Brothers, the film has established an impressive track record overseas despite its low profile and minus the benefit, as in La Bamba's case, of a hit soundtrack. P.H.

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