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Prisoners (1981)

| Drama
A man resettles his American family to New Zealand where he gets a new job at a prison in the city Wellington. His daughter has an affair with one of his prisoners he is to look out for.



(screenplay), (story) | 1 more credit »


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Cast overview, first billed only:
Ralph Cotterill ...
Reg Ruka ...
Rob Jayne ...
Peter Rowley ...
Karl Bradley ...
Timothy Lee ...


A man resettles his American family to New Zealand where he gets a new job at a prison in the city Wellington. His daughter has an affair with one of his prisoners he is to look out for.

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$4,288,719 (estimated)
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Did You Know?


To date the film remains officially unreleased. According to some sources Tatum O'Neal's father Ryan O'Neal was so dissatisfied with the completed production that he purchased the rights to the film in order to prevent its distribution. Other reports indicate the film was shelved due to a legal/financial dispute between the production company and the completion guarantor. See more »


Free (Love can set you free)
Lyrics and Music by Amanda McBroom
Performed by Karen Knowles and Stephen Wade
Produced by
Peter Sullivan
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User Reviews

Stars David Hemmings, Tatum O'Niel, Shirly Knight.
14 February 2006 | by See all my reviews

How could a movie with such a cast be considered so bad as to hide it away from the public view? Ms O'Niel is a fine actress, much better than some people seem to think and in this movie, she was in that unenviable position that Shirley Temple found so difficult, the transition from child star of enormous talent and public standing, to womanhood and the prospect of being faced by the public who would have to test themselves, by letting go of their vision and concept of an adorable little girl and shift to the inevitable acceptance of Tatum as a vital and now sexually attractive young woman. This movie never saw the light of day, for some reason including the one most often given, that her Daddy stopped it in it's tracks. If this is so, then it is time to get it out and let the world decide for itself. Because if the story is true and he did shelve it, then I say that this movie may just be better than his ability to judge. Was his own movie career so outstanding? Prisoners is well ahead of many so called art-house movies and contains some very compelling drama and some very fine performances from the following actors. Tatum O'Niel, Shirley Knight, David Hemmings, Colin Freels, Michael Hurst,Bruno Lawrence, John Bach. There are others and the story (though predictable and altered from the original script) still holds up. It would now make a brilliant retrospective and given the cost of production, it could even stand a chance of making money. I go so far as to say that it would make a classic! After all, look what the producers said about Brief Encounter before it was released, they tried to bury it because they were embarrassed by it, can you imagine? Can anyone actually imagine Shirly Knight giving a poor performance? or Hemmings, or Tatum O'Niel for that matter?

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