On the Yard (1978)

R  |   |  Drama  |  27 April 1979 (USA)
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Ratings: 5.7/10 from 138 users  
Reviews: 6 user | 5 critic

In prison, one prisoner buys some smokes from another. Then he admits he can't pay for it and becomes indebted to him and the interest is rising daily.



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Richard Bright ...
Richard Hayes ...
Hector Troy ...
Richard Jamieson ...
Thomas Toner ...
Ron Faber ...
Don Blakely ...
J.C. Quinn ...


In prison, one prisoner buys some smokes from another. Then he admits he can't pay for it and becomes indebted to him and the interest is rising daily.

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

prison | based on novel | See All (2) »


"Get me out before they kill me!" See more »




R | See all certifications »




Release Date:

27 April 1979 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Alptraum hinter Gittern  »

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Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?


Theatrical film debuts for both Thomas G. Waites and James Remar. See more »

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User Reviews

Smoking Can Damage Your Health
21 May 2003 | by (Isle Of Bute , Scotland) – See all my reviews

The main plot of ON THE YARD revolves around inmate Juleson borrowing a couple of packs of cigarettes from prison Mr Fix-it Chilly , but Juleson finds himself unable to pay back Chilly which means intrest on the debt and Chilly is a man who doesn`t like non payment .

If the entire movie revolved around its central plot it would have worked far better , but the story is crowded with a few too many characters and subplots . This might have worked in the novel ( Which I haven`t read but I know is well regarded mainly due to the fact that the author wrote it while in a maximum security prison ) but doesn`t really work here . And I`m also led to believe the original novel influenced the HBO prison drama OZ , a show that shares the exact same strength and weakness as this film . Both are gritty , involving and slightly shocking , but both contain too many minor characters who only come to the fore to drive the plot along and then disappear when they`ve done so , and some of the subplots are faintly ridiculous in ON THE YARD especially the one at the end which will have you asking " How did he manage to get all that stuff without the guards noticing ? "

One other thing I disliked about ON THE YARD was the mixed bag of acting . John Heard gives a solid performance as Juleson swinging between fear and fatalistic resignation but I had a problem with Thomas G Waites as Chilly , not so much with his acting but more with his physical appearence . He doesn`t carry enough tatoos , scars or look in any way like he`s an archetypal prison thug , but maybe that`s the whole point ? because he`s running things he can pay other inmates to do the dirty work . Most memorable performance is by Hector Troy as the looney latino hitman Gasolino.

So if you love OZ you`ll certainly like ON THE YARD . It`s by no means a classic but at least it doesn`t descend into the oft used cliche of having inmates gang-raped every ten minutes so it deserves some credit

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