Short Eyes 1977
Based on the play by Miguel Pinero, Short Eyes is a grim look at life in ‘The Tombs' (The Manhattan Detention Center, a prison in the lower part of the city widely considered at the time to be New York City's worst jail). The play that the film was based on was inspired by Pinero's own time behind bars and it holds the distinction of being the first play written by a Puerto Rican to ever be turned into a Broadway production. The movie was shot with a mixed cast of professional and amateurs — including several ex-cons and ex-addicts.

Short Eyes is the story of a cellblock thrown into a state of hostility and murderous anger by the arrival of a white man accused of sexually molesting a child. To these black and Puerto Rican convicts, this offense is an unforgivable sin. They immediately ostracize him, making it quite clear that he is unacceptable. Juan, one of the few sensitive souls in the group, listens to his story — a touching, weird, and almost surrealistic description of his crime.

All the pent-up physical tension and nervous humor of prison life are revealed in this severely naturalistic drama. Racial hatreds flare up; there is a homosexual seduction scene, much talk of masturbation and then, finally, a murder. Short Eyes has a rhythmic intensity to it and a gritty realism that just won't quit. Three performances are excellent: Bruce Davidson as the child molester, Jose Perez as Juan, and Joe Carberry as a violent killer. The ultimate message of the film is that the prison is a microcosm of society's bigotries, preconceived hatreds, and group pressures enforced against undesirable outsiders.

Director: Robert M. Young
Cast: Bruce Davison, Jose Perez, Nathan George, Shawn Elliott
Country: USA
Genre: Drama

BD25 + DVD9 | 1080p AVC, NTSC 16:9 | 01:39:23 | 22.3 Gb + 7.14 Gb + 3% rec
Language: English
Subtitles: none


-- Commentary features director Robert M. Young and Leon Ichaso (the man behind a film based on Pinero's life). The two discuss the themes that are used throughout the movie and the effectiveness of certain scenes, share some thoughts on the source material and quite a bit more. It's a very good, informative dissection of the film that also doubles as an interesting history lesson.

-- Interview (41 min) with actor Bruce Davidson. Davison talks not only about his work on this picture but about his career in general.

-- Interview (22 min) with Young is more focused on "Short Eyes" details, discussing his introduction to the production (replacing a failing director) and his interaction with tempestuous actors.

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