19 user 24 critic

Short Eyes (1977)

R | | Drama | 20 July 1979 (Norway)
A child molester sent to prison finds that criminals exact harsher justice than society.


Robert M. Young


Miguel Pinero (play)




Cast overview, first billed only:
Bruce Davison ... Clark Davis
José Pérez José Pérez ... Juan
Nathan George ... Ice
Don Blakely ... El Raheem
Tony DiBenedetto Tony DiBenedetto ... Tony (as Tony Di Benedetto)
Shawn Elliott ... Paco
Tito Goya Tito Goya ... Cupcakes
Joseph Carberry ... Longshoe
Bob Maroff Bob Maroff ... Mr. Nett
Keith Davis Keith Davis ... Mr. Brown
Luis Guzmán ... (as Luis Guzman)
Miguel Pinero Miguel Pinero ... Go-Go
Bob O'Connell ... Mr. Allard
Mark Margolis ... Mr. Morrison
Richard Matamoros Richard Matamoros ... Gomez


A young man who is charged with child molestation is placed in New York City's infamous Tombs prison. When the other inmates in his cell block find out what he is charged with, life becomes extremely difficult for him. Written by Anonymous

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


"Jesus, help me, 'cause man won't."




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Parents Guide:

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Did You Know?


This movie was started by another director who was fired five days into the production and subsequently replaced by Robert M. Young. None of the footage shot by the original director was used in the final finished film. See more »


El Raheem: Yakoo, maker and creator of the devil! Swine merchant, your time is near at hand. Fuck with me, and your time will be now. Soon, all devils' heads will roll, and new rivers shall flow through the cities created by the blood of whitey.
[prisoners shout mock agreement]
El Raheem: What kind of Original Blackman talk is that? Your presence here affects the mind of my people like a fever. You, yakoo, are the bearer of 9,999 diseases: evil, corrupt pork-chop-eating brain!
See more »


Referenced in Stick (1985) See more »


Need Someone To Love
Written by Curtis Mayfield
Performed by Curtis Mayfield
See more »

User Reviews

Jesus help me, 'cause man won't.
13 November 2018 | by Hey_SwedenSee all my reviews

"Short Eyes" is a low budget, independent film that simply bristles with authenticity, taking place entirely inside a prison populated mostly by minorities. The knowing screenplay is by a real-life former convict, Miguel Pinero, based upon his acclaimed play. His dialogue may be highly profane, but it's colourful and well delivered by an impressive cast of unsung character actors of the stage and screen. It's not totally without humour (some of the prisoners stage a roach race at one point), but tends to be grim, and potent overall, pushing viewers' buttons with intensity.

The scenario has a baby-faced white man (the great Bruce Davison of "Willard") brought in after he's been convicted of child molestation. Now, even people who don't work in the penal system know that even convicts tend to treat these creeps as the lowest of the low. One doesn't give much for Davisons' chances. He does make something of a connection to an even-keeled prisoner named Juan (Jose Perez, "Miami Blues"), to whom Davisons' character Clark unburdens himself.

Ordinarily, one wouldn't have ANY sympathy for a p.o.s. like Clark, but Davison is vivid and believable as a frightened, pitiable loser who's basically a victim of some sick addiction. The rest of the cast is equally good: Perez, Nathan George ("One Flew Over the Cuckoos' Nest"), Don Blakely ("Vigilante"), Tony DiBenedetto ("The Exterminator"), Shawn Elliott ("Arbitrage"), Tito Goya ("Marathon Man"), Joseph Carberry ("Missing in Action"), and Mark Margolis ('Breaking Bad'). Music stars Freddy Fender and Curtis Mayfield have cameos that allow them to sing. And keep your eyes peeled for an uncredited Luis Guzman, making his film debut in a bit part.

The material may be TOO potent for some viewers (and there is some graphic violence), but it's compelling every step of the way. This is an environment in which anybody who's not a career criminal would NOT feel safe. Director Robert M. Young, whose other credits include "Alambrista!", "Rich Kids", "The Ballad of Gregorio Cortez", and "Dominick and Eugene", shows you right away that the experience is not for the faint of heart.

The film can favourably compare to the works of Edward Bunker, himself a convict who showed a talent for writing, and wrote what he knew: "Straight Time", "Runaway Train", "Animal Factory", etc. You may recognize HIM best as Mr. Blue in "Reservoir Dogs".

Eight out of 10.

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Release Date:

20 July 1979 (Norway) See more »

Also Known As:

Short Eyes See more »


Box Office


$300,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$2,204, 9 March 2003

Gross USA:


Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

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Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:




Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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