Director: Jamaa Fanaka Cast: Leon Isaac Kennedy, Thommy Pollard, Hazel Spears

DVD (Special Edition / Repackaged / Full Frame)

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Jamaa Fanaka's gritty and idiosyncratic blend of blaxploitation, sports drama, and life-behind-bars thriller gets a third round on DVD in this release from Xenon Pictures. Penitentiary has been given a letterboxed transfer to disc in the widescreen aspect ratio of 1.85:1; while the image hasn't been enhanced for 16 x 9 monitors, the new transfer is clean, well-detailed, and struck from better-looking source materials than the previous video release. The original monophonic audio has been preserved in a Dolby Digital Stereo track, which sounds about as good as the original materials would permit. Writer, director, and producer Fanaka contributes a commentary track as a bonus, and while there's a fair amount of dead air, he does offer some interesting background on how the film got made (he was still a student at UCLA when he shot the movie, and used some of the school's equipment and facilities during the production). Scratchy trailers for Penitentiary and Penitentiary II round out the package, which is a definite improvement over this movie's earlier incarnations on video.

Product Details

Release Date: 01/24/2006
UPC: 0000799436424
Original Release: 1979
Rating: R
Source: Xenon
Region Code: 1
Presentation: [Full Frame]
Time: 1:39:00
Sales rank: 18,033

Special Features

Commentary from legendary writer/director Jamaa Fanaka

Cast & Crew

Scene Index

Disc #1 -- Penitentiary
1. Beaver Seven [5:30]
2. On the Inside [15:05]
3. Riding the Buster [11:06]
4. Five Fingers [3:16]
5. Too Sweet Signs Up [8:27]
6. Fight Night in Lingerie [7:46]
7. Second Round [16:07]
8. Sweet vs. Magilla [5:26]
9. 1st Connubial Visit [7:18]
10. Chump Dies Tonight [5:57]
11. Sweet vs. Amos [5:51]
12. Free Man [7:09]

Customer Reviews

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Penitentiary 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This film was really good.After watching this I found the fight between Too sweet and Half dead particularly interesting. Through out this film you will also find some of the characters to be animated with there jail house humor and realism through others such as Too Sweet’s trainer. The cinematography wasn’t bad also. The use of the wide angle lenses to give the viewer a distorted view was impressive and the way some characters address the camera was interesting and strange at the same time. Some people say that part two is even funnier and I might give it a try later in the future. This exploitation is a masterpiece, PENITENTIARY (1979) is especially worth watching because of its strange, neo-realism. An almost all-unknown cast (that also contributes a lot to the movie's appeal), realistic 1970s African American dialog and backgrounds, realistic and mind-bending scenes of perverse violence and huge doses of humor make this a blast in every department. It’s a must-see if you’re a fan of this genre and one to check out.