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Riot (1969)

A riot in a state prison is staged to cover up an escape attempt, during which many inmates and guards are killed. Shot on location at Arizona State Prison.


Buzz Kulik


Frank Elli (novel), James Poe




Complete credited cast:
Jim Brown ... Cully Briston
Gene Hackman ... Red Fraker
Mike Kellin ... Bugsy
Gerald S. O'Loughlin ... Grossman
Ben Carruthers ... Surefoot
Clifford David ... Mary Sheldon
Bill Walker ... Jake
Jerry Thompson Jerry Thompson ... Fisk
Ricky Summers Ricky Summers ... Gravel Gertie
Mr. Gerri Mr. Gerri ... Queen #1
John Neiderhauser John Neiderhauser ... Queen #2
Frank Eyman Frank Eyman ... The Warden (as Warden Frank A. Eyman)


Cully Briston is serving a 5 year sentence in an Arizona prison. He's not getting along well with the Sergeant of the guards who, on finding a bottle of moonshine near Cully, sends him to the isolation block. Arriving there Cully discovers that inmates have taken over the block and have taken the guards as hostages to demand better living conditions. Inmate Red Fraker, leader of the revolt, has a secret plan to escape with a few other inmates and asks Cully to join them. Red explains there's an old tunnel under the prison auditorium of which prison staff is unaware. Cully plans to brew moonshine to get the other inmates drunk while the select few escape. Written by nufs68

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Freedom ... by any means necessary. See more »


Crime | Drama | Thriller


R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

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Did You Know?


There's a Dirty Dozen reunion in this movie. As well as starring as 2 convicts in Riot, Jim Brown and Ben Carruthers both starred as 2 of the 12 military convicts sent to Nazi occupied France on a suicide mission in The Dirty Dozen. They became friends on set, with the cast also regularly socialising together off set. See more »

Alternate Versions

An edited, "PG" rated version was released to theaters in 1970. Video version is the complete "R" rated version. See more »


Words and Music by Johnny Lee Wills and Deacon Anderson
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User Reviews

More of the Pool Scene, Please!
9 May 2016 | by inspectors71See all my reviews

Buzz Kulik's pulpy, lurid Riot, an R-rated glob of clichéd prison- flick trash shows us two things:

1. Since this would be PG-13 now, with almost dirty language, sort- of naked prisoners being beaten, sparing gouts of blood, and way, way too much of a gay prisoner doing a bump and grind in his cell, one can marvel at how our tolerance of crudity has risen over the last five decades. Kulik must have been in constant combat with the standards and practices folks at Paramount, either to put more movies-sure-are-different adult stuff in this story of a riot masking an escape in an Arizona prison, or to clean this thing up, now!

2. Kulik's ability to take such a nasty, ugly, and pretty-much stupid prison-break story and infuse it with a professionalism the movie doesn't deserve is a testament to his talent. Jim Brown and Gene Hackman, along with a number of recognizable character actors and a whole bunch of real-life inmates are either catatonic or chew up scenery at an alarming rate. The stuff that comes out of their mouths could only be called dialogue in the most general sense of the word. In other words, Riot is a blob of sweat-covered clichés that, for some reason, is watchable enough to keep watching. Go figure!

I saw Riot the first time in, I think, 1973 when ABC showed it during the summer down-time. I could tell the movie had about a third lopped out for all the crudities and nudities and other prisonese. I could only imagine what the little old ladies with the pinking shears and the blue hair at ABC were snipping out, but I thought it was a pretty fearsome movie anyway.

Now, I just marvel at how far Riot pushes the edge of the envelope.

It's still a crappy movie, but it's also a snapshot of what a movie studio was willing to allow for public consumption, way back when you couldn't say "damn" on TV.

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Release Date:

12 May 1969 (Denmark) See more »

Also Known As:

Riot See more »

Filming Locations:

Eloy, Arizona, USA See more »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:



Color (Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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