Director: John G. Avildsen
Stars: Morgan Freeman, Beverly Todd, Robert Guillaume, Michael Beach, Jermaine "Huggy" Hopkins, Lynne Thigpen
Lesson Learned: Students both obedient and unruly will fall in line once an authority figure threatens them with a baseball bat.

Not many actors in Hollywood's history have a filmography as staggering as Morgan Freeman's—well, maybe Samuel L. Jackson. But, still, Freeman has overextended himself in the movie world so much that it's not a shock to hear his voice apathetically narrate the opening of this weekend's Conan The Barbarian remake (Seriously, he does!). With such a long, busy career to his name, it's pretty wild to think that, at one time, Freeman was an on-the-rise character actor. The time was 1989, and, after earning positive reviews for a few independent flicks, he was given the chance to headline a major pic of his own: Lean On Me, the true story of inner city New Jersey high school principal Joe Clark.

The result was, and still is, one of Freeman's greatest performances, a powerful turn that's rigid enough to sell Clark's no-holds-barred demeanor and compassionate enough to convey a sense of care for the film's many disenchanted and illegally-minded student characters.