5.8/10
500
10 user 22 critic

Penitentiary (1979)

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 »

Director:

Writer:

Reviews
Learn more

People who liked this also liked... 

Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 3.5/10 X  

An ex-con, on parole and trying to straighten his life out, decides to resume his boxing career when one of his prison enemies escapes and kills his girlfriend.

Director: Jamaa Fanaka
Stars: Leon Isaac Kennedy, Glynn Turman, Ernie Hudson
Comedy | Crime | Sport
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 3.7/10 X  

A man is framed for murder and sent to prison. He is beaten and tortured, then forced to fight the prison's worst killer, a martial-arts fighting midget called Thud.

Director: Jamaa Fanaka
Stars: Leon Isaac Kennedy, Anthony Geary, Steve Antin
Drama | Mystery | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  

Four Parisian women navigate the world of romance and daily life looking to fulfill their dreams but often find real-life to be inescapable.

Director: Claude Chabrol
Stars: Bernadette Lafont, Clotilde Joano, Stéphane Audran
Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.8/10 X  

A young man struggles with the fact that his girlfriend was once raped.

Director: Martin Scorsese
Stars: Harvey Keitel, Zina Bethune, Anne Collette
Body and Soul (1981)
Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 4.3/10 X  

A young man struggles to become a boxing champ, but success blinds him. It is only through the love of his girlfriend that he is brought back to reality.

Director: George Bowers
Stars: Leon Isaac Kennedy, Jayne Kennedy, Perry Lang
Ganja & Hess (1973)
Drama | Fantasy | Horror
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.1/10 X  

After being stabbed with an ancient, germ-infested knife, a doctor's assistant finds himself with an insatiable desire for blood.

Director: Bill Gunn
Stars: Duane Jones, Marlene Clark, Bill Gunn
The Beyond (1981)
Horror
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.9/10 X  

A young woman inherits an old hotel in Louisiana where after a series of supernatural 'accidents', she learns that the building was built over one of the entrances to Hell.

Director: Lucio Fulci
Stars: Catriona MacColl, David Warbeck, Cinzia Monreale
Horror
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6/10 X  

A pair of teenage girls are headed to a rock concert for one's birthday. While trying to score marijuana in the city, the girls are kidnapped by a gang of psychotic convicts.

Director: Wes Craven
Stars: Sandra Cassel, Lucy Grantham, David Hess
Key Largo (1948)
Crime | Drama | Film-Noir
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.9/10 X  

A man visits his old friend's hotel and finds a gangster running things. As a hurricane approaches, the two end up confronting each other.

Director: John Huston
Stars: Humphrey Bogart, Edward G. Robinson, Lauren Bacall
Hang 'Em High (1968)
Certificate: M Western
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7/10 X  

When an innocent man barely survives a lynching, he returns as a lawman determined to bring the vigilantes to justice.

Director: Ted Post
Stars: Clint Eastwood, Inger Stevens, Pat Hingle
Near Dark (1987)
Action | Crime | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7/10 X  

A small-town farmer's son reluctantly joins a traveling group of vampires after he is turned by a beautiful drifter.

Director: Kathryn Bigelow
Stars: Adrian Pasdar, Jenny Wright, Lance Henriksen
Emma Mae (1976)
Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.2/10 X  

A native young girl from the South moves in with her relatives in a Los Angeles ghetto. At first she is made fun of, but eventually she is accepted and plots to rob a bank to raise bail ... See full summary »

Director: Jamaa Fanaka
Stars: Jerri Hayes, Ernest Williams II, Charles D. Brooks III
Edit

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:

There's only one way out, and 100 fools stand in the way! See more »

Genres:

Crime | Drama | Sport

Certificate:

R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
Edit

Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

December 1979 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Jamaa Fanaka's Penitentiary  »

Box Office

Budget:

$100,000 (estimated)
 »

Company Credits

Production Co:

 »
Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Color:

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »
Edit

Did You Know?

Trivia

Floyd 'Wildcat' Chatman as Seldom Seen was a last minute fill-in for another actor who quit the day before shooting began. See more »

Connections

Referenced in Psych: True Grits (2012) See more »

Soundtracks

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

Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.

User Reviews

Passionate and very intense cinema experience
3 June 2000 | by (Motown, Philly) – See all my reviews

I read in an article that "Penitentiary" is one of John Singelton's favorite films. I can see why. It is an film that is kind of like an "acquired taste". It has its own audience. Hard-hitting, intense, and memorable, with some very well done casting, especially bad-man Badja Djola as "Half Dead". The musical score takes great risks that ultimately pay off. There is one part during the terrific fight scene between Too-Sweet and Half-Dead where there is no score, just screeching. Another interesting point, in Penitentiary 2, Ernie Hudson is just as good as Half-Dead's replacement.


8 of 9 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

Message Boards

Discuss Penitentiary (1979) on the IMDb message boards »

Contribute to This Page

Create a character page for:
?