This is a snapshot of the movies filmed at the Nevada State Prison. For a much more in-depth look, including photos of the film posters and stills, compiled by Glen Whorton, please click here.
Desperate Trails 1921
Directed by John Ford, starring Harry Carey, Irene Rich, Georgie Stone
This 50 minute, silent film is one of seven films directed by John Ford in 1921. The film is presumed lost as no copies have been located in archives or collections.
Man goes to prison to save his lover’s brother, who is actually the husband that deserted her and their children. He discovers the truth, escapes from prison, and chases the guy. He is recaptured, but receives a pardon when the authorities find out the truth.
State Penitentiary 1950
Directed by Lew Landers, starring Warner Baxter, Onslow Stevens, Karin Booth
Great shots of the former License Plate Factory and the old boiler room
Man wrongly accused and convicted, must decide to get involved in a prison break or wait for his wife to prove his innocence by pretending to romance the real culprit.
Directed by Vic Morrow (his first), starring Leonard Nimoy, Michael Forest, Paul Mazursky
Decent shots of the yard, based on Jean Genet’s 1947 play Haute Surveillance
A jewel thief, and a hoodlum, form an alliance for their survival with two murderers awaiting execution. A gay triangle is formed with the usual outcome.
Lady Cocoa 1975
Directed by Matt Cimber, starring Lola Falana, Gene Washington, Alex Dreier, Mean Joe Greene
Good establishing shots of the yard, Administration Building, and road to Lake Tahoe
Woman imprisoned for contempt of court finally decides to testify against her gangster boyfriend.
Alias Big Cherry 1975
Directed by Matt Cimber, starring Leo Rossi, Joe Tornatore, Johnny Silver
We are searching for information on this film, and haven’t found a copy yet.
About the only thing we know is the tagline: 700 pounds of con, Ripped off Millions!
Flesh and Blood 1979
Directed by Jud Taylor, starring Tom Berenger, Mitchell Ryan, Kristin Griffith
Made for TV movie, with a look at a very young Denzel Washington.
A convict trains to become a boxer while in prison. Once out, he teams up with a manager and prepares for a championship fight. Like most of us, he has his demons, including a much too close relationship with his mother, and a father who wasn’t part of his life.
An Innocent Man 1989
Directed by Peter Yates, starring Tom Selleck, F. Murray Abraham, Laila Robins
Classic tale of a guy, minding his own business, framed by a couple of corrupt cops. Wrongly convicted, he finds himself in prison and tries to prove his innocence. Of course, everybody in prison claims to be innocent and that they were framed. You’ll just have to watch the film to see how it goes for him.
Black August 2007
Directed by Samm Styles, starring Gary Dourdan, Darren Bridgett, Ezra J. Stanley
The sad, but true story of the last year of prison activist George Jackson’s life in 1970 and 1971. NSP stands in for the San Quentin State Prison in Marin County, California. Jackson’s story is often described as a black man caught up in California’s “prison-industrial complex”. The film explores the Black Panther movement and the tumultuous times that defined the early 1970s.
The Mustang 2019
Directed by Laure de Clermont-Tonnerre, starring Matthias Schoenaerts, Jason Mitchell, Bruce Dern
Based on the very real Nevada Department of Corrections wild horse training program, this film tells the story of a fictional, violent prisoner who joins the program. Lots of recognizable images of NSP and the surrounding scenery. If you are familiar with former NSP employees, you just spot a few of them in the film.
Note: We’ve linked each title to the imdb.com entry for that film, if you want to more about it.
Lots more movies and shows to come, check back later!
If you are a production company looking for a great location, please contact Glen Whorton for more information about using the historic Nevada State Prison site.