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.
George Stanford Brown
Erland Van Lidth de Jeude
Miguel Angel Suarez
Deputy Ward Wilson
Craig T Nelson
Warden Walter Beatty
Warden Henry Sampson