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Stir Crazy (1981)

There was an improvisational air to much of the dialogue spouted by both Gene Wilder and Richard Pryor in Stir Crazy, a frenetic prison farce designed to juxtapose the very different comic talents of its two stars.

Both losers – Skip Donahue (Wilder) is a would-be playwright and Harry Monroe (Pryor) a would-be actor – they decide to try California after making no headway in New York, and set off on the long drive in their battered van.

In Arizona however, they are arrested for a bank robbery they didn’t commit (via a case of chicken-suited mistaken identity) and are given 120 years in the slammer.

How they manage to outwit their warders, guards and fellow prisoners (one of whom is a crazed killer, and another a lisping gay man) was the main concern of the film, which Wilder and Pryor merely used as a springboard for doing their own thing while director Sidney Poitier seemed to simply point the camera in the direction of his stars – with erratic results.


Skip Donahue
Gene Wilder
Harry Monroe
Richard Pryor
Rory Schultebrand
George Stanford Brown
Erland Van Lidth de Jeude
JoBeth Williams
Jesus Ramirez
Miguel Angel Suarez
Deputy Ward Wilson
Craig T Nelson
Warden Walter Beatty
Barry Corbin
Warden Henry Sampson
Nicolas Coster
Charles Weldon
Len Garber
Joel Brooks
Jack Graham
Jonathan Banks
Teresa Ramirez
Karmin Murcelo

Sidney Poitier