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Short Eyes


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Product Details

  • Actors: Bruce Davison, Jose Perez, Luis Guzman, Mark Margolis, Nathan George
  • Directors: Robert M. Young
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Color, NTSC
  • Language: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: R (Restricted)
  • Studio: Scorpion Releasing
  • DVD Release Date: September 16, 2014
  • Run Time: 100 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00LC5A8Z4
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #86,123 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Editorial Reviews

On the inside, they play by a different set of rules! Based on the play by acclaimed writer Miguel Pinero, Short Eyes is a brutal and powerful look at life in Manhattan's infamous detention center, "The Tombs". Tensions erupt when white prisoner Clark (Bruce Davison, Longtime Companion), an accused child molester, joins their ranks. Universally detested by his fellow inmates for committing the most heinous crime imaginable, Clark becomes a catalyst for anger and violence that breeds behind bars and sets off a horrifying chain of events. A groundbreaking film and pop culture phenomenon, Short Eyes was directed by award-winner Robert M. Young (Extremities) and features a score and cameo by music legend Curtis Mayfield (Superfly). The great cast of character actors includes Luis Guzman, Mark Margolis, Joseph Carberry, Shelly Desai, Jose Perez and many more.

Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Rayv on August 23, 2004
Format: DVD
I had considered writing an extensive review for the film "Short Eyes," but after seeing that fabulous reviews by some amazon.com users I felt at loss of what to say because it had already been said. After reading those comments made by the reviewers, I feel that I will not want to go through any of the main themes or storyline but babble about what I like in this film adaptation of the play by the late great Pinero.

Indeed, Short Eyes features a superb cast of unknowns and slightly known actors who appeared in film productions of the 70's. I have also heard that the film (like the play) cast several real inmates for the supporting roles and extras. In the introduction of the play "Short Eyes" the writer mentions that the casting of inmates enabled them for a chance to "make the sidewalk." Supposedly, this was also the case for the film.

Jose Perez, previously known for his miscellaneous TV work, is definitely the protagonist of this film. Here he plays Juan, a tough yet compassionate prisoner-janitor who has the courage to question the motives of Clark Davis, the "short eyes freak" played by Bruce Davison. Throughout the film we witness Juan and Clark interacting as a compassionate therapist would act with an emotionally disturbed client. In one scene, Clark reveals to Juan his pedophilic history, which involved a young "rican" girl. Juan is deeply disturbed by this revelation but still tries to understand him instead of killing him "stone-dead" at the instance. Jose Perez would go on to play another compassionate, saintly janitor in the Broadway play Steam Bath.

On that note (did I say note) two musicians were cast for this film: Curtis Mayfield and Freddy Fender.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Westley VINE VOICE on December 18, 2004
Format: DVD
"Short Eyes" was released in 1977 and stars a multi-ethnic cast playing inmates in a Sing-Sing style prison. The prisoners belong to tight groups, divided primarily along racial lines, and co-exist with relatively little violence. They even have a "council," comprised of the leaders of the various groups, that establishes acceptable actions for the prisoners. Into this composition comes Bruce Davison, an alleged child molester, who the prisoners dub "freak" and "short eyes." The story is told rather loosely and episodically, as it moves toward its inevitable but gritty conclusion.

In 1977, "Short Eyes" must have seemed shatteringly realistic and harrowing. Today, the film feels a bit stagy; not surprisingly, the screenplay was based on a play - by noted Puerto Rican playwright, Miguel Pinero (he also has a small part as Go Go). Despite this flaw, the characterizations are solid and the acting is often quite good; Freddy Fender and Curtis Mayfield even show up to sing some songs! In addition, the film explores prison race relations in a startlingly frank and credible manner. Overall, the film is one of the better prison dramas and likely to appeal to fans of 70s cinema.

The DVD extras include an interesting commentary track with the film's director Robert Young as well as director Leon Ichaso, who made "Pinero" based on the life of the playwright. Unfortunately, the film is not subtitled, which would be helpful with the considerable jargon and the rapid-fire delivery of the inmates.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful By NJGUY2 on April 8, 2002
Format: VHS Tape Verified Purchase
Miguel Pinero is the most underated playwright of modern American theater. His play short eyes shows us the ugly underbelly of American society through the eyes of convicts. It is a play filled with ethnic anomosity racial rivalaries and a rigid moral code which allows no devation. Truly this film version of the stage play is worth looking at. Bruce Davidson performace is complelling and the rest of the cast never miss a beat. It is not for the faint hearted.
Most unfortunate is that Mr. Pinero is no longer with us but some might remember the Miami Vice episodes he penned
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Mickey Ryan on February 20, 2012
Format: DVD
Although outdated, the late Nuyorican playwright, ex-con, hustler & poet Miguel Piñero's hardcore story about a child molestor (Davison) getting his dues in a NYC jail (filmed on location in The Tombs) packed quite a punch when it was released in the late 70s. Why? After all, this is the decade that gave us the very best in cheap exploitation grindhouse cinema (i.e., I Spit on Your Grave; Last House on the Left; Cannibal Holocaust). The answer is most likely the raw realism of and sensitive theme of pedophilia which, to this day, is rarely touched upon in American film. Piñero, an ex-convict from the Lower East Side who served time in The Tombs, pulls no punches and tells a grimy urban tale that you won't see in Hollywood. However I do predict a remake in the future and something tells me it will suck just like 98% of them.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By J. Lewis VINE VOICE on October 1, 2011
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
"Short Eyes" is the 1977 film adaptation of Miguel Pinero's 1974 play of the same name. Pinero himself appears as one of the characters here, more or less playing himself as the Puerto Rican convict and street-hustler that he actually was, and which was his inspiration for this play and movie. Contrary to misstatements I've seen all over the Web, the term "short eyes" refers to any and all pedophiles, not just those attracted to boys; the prisoner who is labeled a "short eyes" in this film is held on charges of molesting girls.

The film is set on a cell-block at New York's Riker's Island prison in the 1970s. The prisoners are divided along ethnic lines of blacks, Puerto Ricans and whites, with additional ideological cleavages along pseudo-religious racial lines. There are three strands of tension here: ethnic/racial; moral, with the "short eyes" prisoner being the target of everyone's moral outrage; and sexual, which grounds the whole story. Sexual deprivation is driving various schemes to seduce and reduce to sexual slavery one young, inexperienced prisoner named Juan who the others call Cupcake. The arrival of a sexual predator of children, however, presents a more "legitimate" target for all those looking to "cop" -- get sex off of a willing or unwilling inmate. Pinero's dialogue, the performances of actors who expertly duplicate 1970s New York City street culture, and the element of authenticity to the sexual tension and plots in the story-line (I have a brother who was a prison guard and a cousin and acquaintances who were inmates on Rikers before the reforms of the 1990s) is what makes this one of the great indie films of its era.
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