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Theatrical release poster
Directed by John D. Hancock
Produced by Bill Badalato
Written by John D. Hancock
Dorothy Tristan
Starring Nick Nolte
Ernie Hudson
William Forsythe
Rita Taggart
Mark Rolston
Lane Smith
Joe Mantegna
Anne Ramsey
Music by Angelo Badalamenti
Melissa Etheridge
Orville Stoeber
Cinematography Jan Weincke
Editing by David Handman
Jon Poll
Distributed by De Laurentiis Entertainment Group (DEG)
Release date(s) October 16, 1987
Running time 115 min
Country  United States
Language English

Weeds is a 1987 drama film about a San Quentin inmate who writes a play which catches the attention of a visiting reporter. The film was directed by John D. Hancock, and stars Nick Nolte, Ernie Hudson, and Rita Taggart.


Lee, (Nick Nolte), is in San Quentin for armed robbery serving 'life without possibility' - that is, without possibility of parole. After two failed suicide attempts he begins to read books from the prison library. He attends a performance of Waiting for Godot given for the prisoners and is deeply moved by the piece. He begins to write plays about imprisonment and then stages them too. He puts together a social-protest musical extravaganza about life in the penitentiary which attracts visitors and earns him the regard of a San Francisco theatre reviewer, (Rita Taggart), who eventually persuades the governor to release him. Lee organises an acting troupe made up of former cons he worked with - Burt, a shoplifter, (William Forsythe), a murderer, (Ernie Hudson), an embezzler (Lane Smith), a smart pimp (John Toles-Bey), a flasher, (Mark Rolston), and others. But Lee's work doesn't make the same impact outside the prison as it did inside. Touring in a camper, with no money, the men are torn by impulses to revert to their former criminal behaviour. "The film is about their efforts to become professional men of the theatre. It's about the ways in which working together changes them and the ways in which it doesn't." [1]

Hancock, who used to be the director of the San Francisco Actors Workshop, did some work with the convict Rick Cluchey and his San Quentin Drama Group, (whose late 1960s show The Cage toured the U.S. and Europe), and the film grew out of Hancock's contact with Clucheys company and out of his and Dorothy Tristan's research into other prison theatre groups.


  1. ^ Pauline Kael in the collection of movie reviews, Hooked

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