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
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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:

All that stands between him and freedom is the ring. See more »

Genres:

Crime | Drama | Sport

Certificate:

R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
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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)
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Company Credits

Production Co:

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Color:

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Writer/director Jamaa Fanaka was still a student at UCLA when he made this film. Moreover, the quadrangle at the UCLA cinema department was used as the location for the prison yard. See more »

Connections

Referenced in Justine: 'A Matter of Innocence' (1980) 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

 
An odd mix of the real and the ridiculous
7 August 2011 | by (Edinburgh, Scotland, UK) – See all my reviews

A man is wrongly imprisoned for murder. While in the penitentiary he gets involved in a boxing competition that the prison hosts.

Penitentiary is a somewhat odd blaxploitation movie. It seems to be a curious mix of realism and ridiculousness. While on the one hand, the idea of a prison boxing competition where the male and female inmates can get together is a very silly idea. But on the other hand, the movie also deals with issues of institutionalisation and the tone overall is often quite sombre. So it's a strange combination. It has to be said though that the best moment is the excellent fight scene between the hero and his psychotic cell mate. It's a pretty ferocious and exciting affair and I suppose just emphasises that Penitentiary is definitely a fight film over and above anything else.

This is definitely a good example of its type. It's certainly not a typical prison drama though that's for sure. It even spawned a couple of sequels that recycled the same idea to ever more ridiculous extents. It's certainly one of the least likely franchises you could imagine.


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