Two Jailbirds Who Just Want Out Of The Cage

Gene Wilder and Richard Pryor play a couple of New York City guys who've just lost their jobs. Fed up with the hostility all around them, they decide to pack up and head west towards Hollywood. Wilder, a struggling playwright, suggests spending some time in the Sun Belt, earning money and interacting with the colorful locals, especially after their van breaks down and they're funds quickly dwindle. They soon find the locals to be a little less colorful then they hoped when Gene and Richard are framed for a bank robbery and thrown into prison for thirty years. Though they maintain their innocence, the prison community is not sympathetic-until Wilder shows prowess on a mechanical bull in the warden's office. It seems the warden (Barry Corbin) is determined to win this year's competition and Gene Wilder is his best bet.


Warden Walter Beatty. Barry plays the part of the Warden of Glenboro Prison. For ten straight years, Beatty has lost to Warden Simpson of Doerin Prison in the "Annual Top Hand Rodeo Competition" performed by inmates of the two prisons. This year however, besides the chance of being humiliated again, he's also in serious money trouble. Beatty is so desperate he even has a mechanical bull in his office which he uses to test every new inmate. He thinks he has finally hit pay dirt when he discovers that Donahue (Gene Wilder), a new and nutty inmate from New York, has uncommon abilities on the bull. The problem is, Donahue refuses to compete. Beatty, however, will try to make Donahue "change his mind" by putting him through just about every punishment method he can devise.

"Stir Crazy" was the third box-office hit Barry had starred in in his film debut year (1980). He had previously appeared in "Urban Cowboy" and "Any Which Way You Can".


WARDEN BEATTY : Inmates 65984...and 65985.

DONAHUE : I'm sorry, were you in the middle of something?
WARDEN BEATTY : No, no! (chuckles) Mr. Wilson just doesn't feel the same need to be hospitable to our out-of-town guests as I do.
WILSON : Get on the bull.
DONAHUE : Get on the "ball"?

DONAHUE : Oh! Is that what that is? I didn't know. Is that a recreational activity? I was hoping for volleyball or tennis.
WARDEN BEATTY : We have an annual prison rodeo. We're awfully proud of it. We like to run you new fellas through this little test once you've been with us for three months, just to see if you have any aptitude for it.
DONAHUE : Sure. Fine with me.

DONAHUE : OK, let her rip.
WARDEN BEATTY : You're on backwards.
WARDEN BEATTY : Over the rigging.
DONAHUE : Oh, backwards! Ha, ha! I thought you meant the other way! I was looking for the horns to come out. OK!
WARDEN BEATTY : Are you ready, Mr. Wilson?
WILSON : Ready.

WARDEN BEATTY : I don't believe what I just saw!
WILSON : The damn machine's malfunctioning.
WARDEN BEATTY : THE MACHINE'S FINE WILSON! Maybe you'd like to get up on it and try it for a six!
WILSON : Luck was all it was.
WARDEN BEATTY : That boy's a born cowboy!
WILSON : From New York?
WARDEN BEATTY : I DON'T CARE IF HE'S FROM TASMANIA! No inmate ever took Double-Aught to six level before! Your big rodeo star Graham...born with cow shit in his ears, he never got it past a four.
WILSON : But Graham's had a lot of injuries.
WARDEN BEATTY : AND I'VE HAD TEN YEARS OF HUMILIATION! I ain't even gonna talk about the money trouble I'm in from losing to Warden Sampson and his Doerin Prison gorillas BECAUSE OF HIM! If that Eastern kid's for real, he's gonna ride for Glenboro Prison in the next rodeo, and we're gonna whip Sampson's boys and win that goddamn prize! Now, get that kid back in here in an hour. I wanna test him out on Double-Aught again.

WARDEN SAMPSON : Now, I realize that $50,000 ain't much these days but it might stimulate a little interest.
WARDEN BEATTY : (Chuckles) Henry, one way or another, I'm gonna cover that bet.

DONAHUE : Hello, Warden. Nice to see you again.
WARDEN BEATTY : I got some good news for you.
DONAHUE : My wine magazines came?
WARDEN BEATTY : No! (Chuckling) It's better than that! You're gonna represent Glenboro Prison in the annual Top Hand Competition. (Chuckling) Congratulations!
DONAHUE : Oh! Oh, my God! Warden!...I can't do that!
WARDEN BEATTY : What in the hell are you talking about?
DONAHUE : Well, I should've told you in your office. My mother was a veterinarian. I can't have anything to do with the exploitation of animals. She would turn over in her grave.
WARDEN BEATTY : I don't believe you heard me correctly. This is very important to me.
DONAHUE : Important to you? My mother is watching over every step I make. Do you know that my soul is on the line here? So, please! Let's just drop -- What? I said no. Ma -- I told him no. Ma, are you crazy? I have witness -- All right! We'll talk about it in my cell. Um, I have to go to the bathroom. Would you excuse me, Warden?
WARDEN BEATTY : (Sniffs) That boy's very confused. Straighten him out.

WILSON : A few more days, and I'll have him broke.
WARDEN BEATTY : WE DON'T HAVE A FEW MORE DAYS! The stock's already been delivered to the farm, the rodeo contracts are out and Doerin Prison's a big jump ahead of us already!
WILSON : But, bein' from the East, I thought the kid would be a little softer in the crotch.

WARDEN BEATTY : Hello, Donahue. What can I do for ya?
DONAHUE : I'm ready to make a deal.
WARDEN BEATTY : Oh? What kind of deal?
DONAHUE : I want my own team. And I want a bigger cell with better ventilation.
WILSON : What's the matter? Has Grossberger been fartin' on ya?
WARDEN BEATTY : Settle down, Wilson! I don't make deals, Donahue.
DONAHUE : Oh, I know that.
WARDEN BEATTY : But I think in this case it might be arranged.
WARDEN BEATTY : I wanna wing that trophy. I'm countin' on you to go balls out for it.
DONAHUE : I only have one speed: balls out.
WARDEN BEATTY : (Chuckles) That's the spirit. You're gonna be outta here while you're still relatively young man.
DONAHUE : Oh! I'm looking forward to that a lot.
WARDEN BEATTY : I guess we got ourselves a deal, huh?
DONAHUE : I guess so.
WARDEN BEATTY : Ride 'em, Cowboy!

ANNOUNCER : Hold on, hold on, folks! We got ourselves the first push in the history of the prison rodeo.
WARDEN BEATTY : Push, my ass! There ain't gonna be any push! I was ready for this.



Release Date
  • Friday, December 12, 1980.
  • Comedy.
Directed By
  • Sidney Poitier.

Executive Producers

  • Melville Tucker.

Produced By

  • Hannah Weinstein.


  • Columbia Pictures.

Running Time

  • 1 Hour 51 Minutes.


Main Cast

  • Gene Wilder as Skip Donahue.

  • Richard Pryor as Harry Monroe.

  • Georg Stanford Brown as Rory Schultebrand.

  • JoBeth Williams as Meredith.

  • Miguel Angel Suárez as Jesús Ramírez.

  • Craig T. Nelson as Deputy Ward Wilson.

  • Barry Corbin as Warden Walter Beatty.

  • Charles Weldon as Blade.

  • Nicolas Coster as Warden Henry Sampson.

Filming Locations

  • Los Angeles, California.

  • Arizona Prison State.

MPAA Rating

  • R.

DVD Special Features

  • Interactive Menus.
  • Subtitles: English, Portuguese, Chinese, Korean, Thai.
  • Trailers.
  • Talent & Filmographies.
  • Scene Access.
  • Widescreen and Full Screen Versions.




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