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Penitentiary (1979)

 -  Crime | Drama | Sport  -  December 1979 (USA)
5.8
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Ratings: 5.8/10 from 442 users  
Reviews: 9 user | 20 critic

A hitchhiker named Martel Gordone gets in a fight with two bikers over a prostitute, and one of the bikers is killed. Gordone is arrested and sent to prison, where he joins the prison's ... See full summary »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Wilbur 'Hi-Fi' White ...
Sweet Pea
...
Martel 'Too Sweet' Gordone
Thommy Pollard ...
Eugene T. Lawson
Hazel Spears ...
Linda (as Hazel Spear)
Donovan Womack ...
Jesse Amos
Floyd 'Wildcat' Chatman ...
Hezzikia 'Seldom Seen' Jackson (as Floyd Chatman)
Gloria Delaney ...
Peaches
Badja Djola ...
'Half Dead' Johnson
Chuck Mitchell ...
Lieutenant Arnsworth
Cepheus Jaxon ...
Poindexter
Dwaine Fobbs ...
Lying Latney Winborn
Ernest Wilson ...
Cheese
Will Richardson ...
Magilla Gorilla
Elijah Mitchell ...
Nut #1
Tony Andrea ...
Mook
Edit

Storyline

A hitchhiker named Martel Gordone gets in a fight with two bikers over a prostitute, and one of the bikers is killed. Gordone is arrested and sent to prison, where he joins the prison's boxing team in an effort to secure an early parole and to establish his dominance over the prison's toughest gang. Written by page8701

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

He's Too Fast, Two Fisted, "Too Sweet"! See more »

Genres:

Crime | Drama | Sport

Certificate:

R | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

December 1979 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Jamaa Fanaka's Penitentiary  »

Box Office

Budget:

$100,000 (estimated)
 »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Color:

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The fight in the jail cell between Badja Djola and Leon Isaac Kennedy took three days to film. Neither Djola nor Kennedy used stunt doubles for this brutal and lengthy fight set piece. See more »

Connections

Referenced in Saturday Night Live: Rod Stewart (1981) See more »

Soundtracks

Kissy Face
Written, Produced and Performed by Mark Gaillard and the Slim and Trim Band
See more »

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User Reviews

A long lost blacksploitation Gem!
16 March 1999 | by See all my reviews

Surprise, surprise blaxpo fans the movie that started off the penitentiary series is available. No, it's not the one with Mr. T (penitentiary II) or that horrible one with the midget. (penintiary III) This is the one with the original too sweet, half dead and seldom seen. Despite the fact this movie is the epitome of low budget, try to find the boom mike in some scenes.

This remains one of my favorite cult films. The cinemetography is pretty good. The fight between Too sweet and Half dead is particularly interesting. The use of the Wide angle lenses to give the viewer a distorted view. And the way some characters address the camera. Look were not talking Citizen Knae here, but it still is interesting.

That's not what impresses me most about this movie. It's the fact it transends the usual blacksploitation stereotypes. They are still there but also there is also a lot of truth within it's characterizations. Seldom seen character is no caricature he's a real. (He plays too sweet's trainer.) I was amazed at how realistic his portrayal of an institutionalized convict was. We really get to understand him and why he does what he does. Another interesting thing about this movie is the character half dead (Badja Djola) was hilarious. (You want some Mr. goodbar) You might remember him from the dozens of movies she's appeared in afterward (a rage in harlem, mississippi burning and other films) I also liked the fact that this was funny (mostly) but it also contained moments of dead seriousness. If you are any kind of fan of blacksploitation movies, or cult movies in general check this one out. If you can find it.


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