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Skip and Harry are framed for a bank robbery and end up in a western prison. The two eastern boys are having difficulty adjusting to the new life until the warden finds that Skip has a natural talent for riding broncos with the inter-prison rodeo coming up. Written by
John Vogel <email@example.com>
Two guys doing a bank promotion dressed as Big Bird are mistaken for the bank robbers who stole their costumes in "Stir Crazy," a 1980 film starring Richard Pryor and Gene Wilder, who worked so well together in several films.
Two friends, Skip and Harry (Wilder and Pryor) both lose their jobs and leave New York City, planning to work their way to the west coast. When the unfortunate situation described above happens, they wind up in prison. The naive Skip (Wilder), an aspiring playwright, takes notes and Harry (Pryor), facing the reality of the situation, is terrified. In prison, they meet the very gay Rory (Georg Stanford Brown), the sweet Jesus (Miguel Angel Suarez), who misses his girlfriend Teresa, the huge, scary Grossberger (Erland van Lidth de Jeude) who turns out to be a pussycat with a beautiful singing voice, the miserable guard (Craig T. Nelson) and the warden (Barry Corbin). When it's discovered that Skip has a natural ability to ride a mechanical bull, the warden enters him in a rodeo where he has a huge bet with another warden (Nicholas Coaster). Harry, Skip, Rory, Grossberger, and Jesus plan an escape to take place at the rodeo.
Very funny film, with one of the highlights being Pryor in the prison hospital because he was told he had to have his appendix out, though they had already been removed. Skip is advised that in order to get the team he wants at the rodeo, he needs to turn down the warden's request that he ride. Putting Hank in the hospital is just one ploy to break him down. The scene is hilarious.
Pryor and Wilder work beautifully together, the street smart black and the naive dreamer. There's always something so sweet about Wilder and nervous about Pryor, one walking into obvious danger while the other one desperately tries to pull him out, that just worked in all their films. It's also a rare chance to see the uniquely talented Erland van Lidth de Jeude, a huge, 6'6" Dutch heldentenor who qualified for the Olympics in wrestling, was a teacher, an MIT graduate, and had his own computer company. An absolutely amazing man who died 7 years after this film.
Lots of fun. Recommended.
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