Short Eyes

Adapted from his well-known play, Miguel Pinero’s ‘Short Eyes’ is a compelling film directed by Robert M Young. The movie, which is shot in the infamous Manhattan, Men’s House of Detention, nicknamed ‘The Tombs’ is a horrific story of prison life starring actors as well as ex-conmen. The prisoners have chosen to divide themselves into groups with the black community in one group, Puerto Ricans in the other and the whites in the third section.

Prison life, as most assume is painful, but that it could be so ruthless, is a bit beyond imagination. The story builds up when Clark Davis (Bruce Davison) is moved into the prison on charges of child molestation. The entry of the pedophile, considered ‘short eyes’ in prison terminology, creates a rumpus within the prison, as fellow prisoners gang up against this new prisoner, who having done what he has, falls in the lowest rung of criminals. As this is an unforgivable crime, Davis is ostracized by his inmates.

Short Eyes

Short Eyes

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Davis finds a friend in Juan (Jose Perez), who feels sorry for his plight. The intensity of the scene where Davis tells Juan that he cannot remember having raped the girl, for which crime he has been taken in, but confesses to having molested other children is strange but realistic. Anger, anguish, hopelessness and the horrifying cruelty in prison is portrayed in a very realistic manner. Though gruesome and depressing it is, the movie is effective and displays the dark reality of life.

Bruce Davison has played his role with painful intimacy, which makes the film touching and leaves behind a mixed feeling of emotions. We also get to see Pinero as one of the supporting stars while a brief appearance from Curtis Mayfield, singer-composer, can also be looked forward to. Overall, Short Eyes does get credit for its story and is a movie worth watching.

Director: Robert M. Young
Cast: Bruce Davison, José Pérez, Nathan George, Don Blakely, Tony DiBenedetto
Language: English
Country: USA
Year: 1977

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