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A young innocent quickly learns the ropes when he faces sexual assault behind bars.
Sentenced to six years in prison on his father's testimony for a small drug possession charge, soft-spoken, naïve Smitty is assigned to share a cell with tough hustler Rocky, transvestite Greely and Mona, a passive, effeminate man. A flamboyant raconteur, Greely goes by the name "Queenie" and brags about his political power in the prison, which enables him to have new clothes and plenty of cigarettes, a popular trading commodity. Queenie offers to help Smitty find an "old man," another inmate with whom to trade sex for protection, and explains that if he does not, he will become "public property" and be regularly gang-raped, a fate suffered by Mona. However, Smitty, unable to accept the dehumanizing choices, tells Queenie he is not homosexual and continues to pine for his girl friend. In the mess hall later, Rocky breaks inmate Catso's nose for trying to steal food from Smitty's tray, and is sentenced to isolation. Days later, Smitty is suddenly cornered by a group of men who plan to gang-rape him, but Rocky, having just been released, protects him and thus claims Smitty as his subordinate sexual partner. Meanwhile another man is chosen to be gang-raped, and the prison guards ignore the ensuing violence. Later, Queenie, provocatively dressed as a cigarette girl, sells cigarettes and chocolate in the hospital ward, where he barters with the doctor for peroxide to bleach his hair, aspirins for Mona and amphetamines. Back in the cell, Rocky shares some marijuana with Smitty, who still believes Rocky is acting out of friendship. Rocky then warns Smitty that "faggots will stab you in the back" and tells him how he landed in prison: Rocky has been given a car and free use of a penthouse apartment by his wealthy gay lover, who expects sexual favors in exchange. One night, after the lover leaves him tied to a bed after performing sadomasochistic sexual acts, Rocky flees then sells the man's car and jewelry. Rocky is arrested when his lover reports him to the police. In the present, offering to be Smitty's "old man," Rocky says that he will kill anyone who lays a hand on him. Still unaware of what the term means, Smitty shakes his hand gratefully. Rocky then turns all the faucets on in the shower room to drown out any noise, forcefully throws Smitty into the stall and rapes him despite Smitty's pleas. His dominance over Smitty established, Rocky orders him to make his bed, roll his cigarettes and serve him in front of others. Days later, Mona, trying to lift Smitty's spirits, asks about his family and then quotes a Shakespearean sonnet he has been practicing for the Christmas show, prompting Rocky to lash out against him. When Smitty tries to defend the helpless man, Rocky slaps Smitty repeatedly and attempts to rape him in the showers, but Queenie interrupts them. Later, after Catso threatens to hurt Smitty, Rocky steals Catso's lighter. When Catso furiously accuses Rocky of stealing, the guards, looking for an excuse to abuse the prisoners, lock up Catso for causing trouble and whip him mercilessly. The other inmates bang their cups against the bars of their cells, drowning out Catso's screams for mercy. When Catso dies in a few days from "pneumonia," Rocky gives the lighter to Smitty, who rejects it in disgust. Later, Queenie goads Smitty to physically resist Rocky, promising that he and the other inmates will stand behind him. Following Rocky's orders, Smitty goes to the shower, but once there, he hits Rocky in the groin, sending him to his knees. As Queenie leads the inmates in a boisterous rendition of "Silent Night," a brutish fistfight ensues, until Smitty chokes Rocky unconscious. Later, at the Christmas show attended by prison authorities and their families, Queenie, dressed in a long black evening gown, heavy stage makeup and red lightbulbs for nipples, descends from a ladder while he sings a campy song mocking their imprisonment. Screaming obscenities and rolling his hips to the live drum accompaniment, Queenie proceeds to strip down to a bra and panties, which causes the attending prison officials to usher guests out. A brawl quickly ensues, resulting in Queenie being sentenced to isolation. Later, Smitty asserts his dominance by demanding that Rocky move to his old bed and slaps him repeatedly when he does not oblige. Humiliated, Rocky pulls out a knife fashioned from a spoon, threatens Smitty and runs out of the cell when the guards come to take him away. Screaming that Smitty is to blame, Rocky starts a water fight among the men and races up and down the prison staircases until he is finally caught and sentenced to isolation. Soon after, Rocky is found dead from an apparent suicide. Back in the cell, Mona reveals the reason for his incarceration to Smitty: While in college, four men gang-rape him until a policeman intervenes. When Mona goes to court against the perpetrators, the men accuse Mona of soliciting them, resulting in a six-month sentence for Mona. Smitty, who has become cocky because of his victory over Rocky, boasts to Mona that he will become the new political power in the prison and promises to give Mona privileges. However, when Smitty asks for sex in return, Mona questions Smitty about his new obsession with power and claims that Smitty will only treat him with indifference once they have sex. Furious and confused, Smitty starts to beat Mona, thus proving Mona's point. When Queenie suddenly walks in and sees the two men crying in each other's arms, he jealously attacks Smitty. The ruckus prompts the guards to lock Smitty in solitary as he screams that it is Queenie's fault in a scene similar to Rocky's demise.
Cast & Crew
|MPAA Ratings:||R||Premiere Info:||World premiere in New York: 16 Jun 1971|
|Release Date:||1971||Production Date:||
|Color/B&W:||Color (Metrocolor)||Distributions Co:||Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, Inc.|
|Sound:||Mono||Production Co:||Cinemex International, Canadian Film Development Corp., Elgin Films, Limited|
|Duration(mins):||100 or 102||Country:||Canada and United States|
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