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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:

Jamaa Fanaka

Writer:

Jamaa Fanaka
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Wilbur 'Hi-Fi' White Wilbur 'Hi-Fi' White ... Sweet Pea
Leon Isaac Kennedy ... Martel 'Too Sweet' Gordone
Thomas M. Pollard Thomas M. Pollard ... Eugene T. Lawson (as Thommy Pollard)
Hazel Spears Hazel Spears ... Linda (as Hazel Spear)
Donovan Womack ... Jesse Amos
Floyd 'Wildcat' Chatman ... Hezzikia 'Seldom Seen' Jackson (as Floyd Chatman)
Gloria Delaney Gloria Delaney ... Peaches
Badja Djola ... 'Half Dead' Johnson
Chuck Mitchell ... Lieutenant Arnsworth
Cepheus Jaxon Cepheus Jaxon ... Poindexter
Dwaine Fobbs Dwaine Fobbs ... Lying Latney Winborn
Ernest Wilson Ernest Wilson ... Cheese
Will Richardson Will Richardson ... Magilla Gorilla
Elijah Mitchell Elijah Mitchell ... Nut #1
Tony Andrea 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:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

December 1979 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Jamaa Fanaka's Penitentiary See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$100,000 (estimated)
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The fight in the jail cell between Badja Djola and Leon Isaac Kennedy took three days to film. Neither Djola nor Kennedy used stunt doubles. See more »

Connections

Featured in In the Raw (2018) See more »

Soundtracks

Kissy Face
Written, Produced and Performed by Mark Gaillard and the Slim and Trim Band
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User Reviews

Fun Prison Flick
2 February 2017 | by Michael_ElliottSee all my reviews

Penitentiary (1979)

** 1/2 (out of 4)

Martel Gordone (Leon Isaac Kennedy) comes to the rescue of a hooker who is being insulted by a couple white trash bikers. A fight breaks out and before long we see Martel in a prison where he quickly draws the wrong type of attention. The prison Lieutenant (Chuck Mitchell) tells him about a boxing contest, which could help him get out.

PENITENTIARY comes from director Jamaa Fanaka and it's certainly one of the strangest but most entertaining prison movies from the decade. I guess you could say that if ROCKY was on crack cocaine and set inside a prison then you'd have something like this movie. There's no question that there are some truly awful performances and some incredibly campy moments scattered throughout the film but at the same time this here just adds to its rather goofy charm.

What makes the film so memorable are the actual boxing scenes. There are some pretty wild fights here including an incredible one where Martel must fight his cell mate. This sequence has to be one of the longest and wildest fights that you're ever going to see and it certainly keeps you entertained. A lot of times I don't really like these types of exploitation movies lasting that long but I must admit that the 99-minute running time went by rather quickly.

Leon Isaac Kennedy has become a cult figure over the years and while he wasn't the great actor, he at least has a certainly style and persona that leaps off the screen. He certainly keeps you drawn into the movie and adds a lot of fun. Fans of PORKY'S will also enjoy seeing Mitchell here in a good role.

If you're looking for class or high art then PENITENTIARY certainly won't be for you but those who like fun trash then dig in.


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