Overview: Peter Strauss is Larry "Rain" Murphy, a man serving a life sentence in Folsom Prison for killing his father. He finds his passion in running to escape his hopeless life he must lead and to free himself from the inmate tensions and power struggles. Murphy is then given a chance to train for the Olympics, a chance at glory, a chance at freedom. This dream comes to be known as the "Jericho Mile" as Rain Murphy trains and races to bring the walls of Folsom Prison tumbling down. With daily running, time trials, training with the college coach, the qualifying race, and the solo race finale you get a variety of running action packed into a realistic prision environment. This film goes beyond running with a wide variety of themes including personal sacrifice, friendship, racism, corruption, and violence.
"That man is out there on a regular basis; day in, day out, week in, week out, apparently running close to a four minute mile." ~Counselor to Warden
"Without me coaching you, without Captain Midnight filling your hoochy soul with funky inspiration, how are you going to be champion?" ~Stiles to Murphy
"I'll run, if you want me to run, I'll run; but you have to give me what I want." ~Murphy to Warden
"I'm going to grab the lead and hang onto it." ~Murphy to Coach
"You are running a game down on us. Before breakfast, before you finished breakfast, you decided I am not running in your race." ~Murphy to the Board
Cast and Crew: Director Michael Mann (Thief, Manhunter, Heat, The Insider), is a runner himself, who was a student of London’s International Film School. This was his first motion picture in a career that continues after three decades behind the camera. Mann adapted the orignal story by Patrick J. Nolan to create the screenplay. At age 32, lead actor Peter Strauss joined up with UCLA coach Jim Bush to prepare for his running role. It has been reported that Strauss got into condition to run a 4:30 mile and many of the runners who appear in this film were locals: Bob Deis, who lowered his mile time to 4:03 at Fresno State, Rick Denisik, who ran 4:06 for Sacramento State, and Adam Ferriea, a sub-2:20 marathon runner. All these athletes were done with their college eligibility at the time of filming and are not officially recognized in the credits of this film. The inmates that you see providing supporting roles and as extras were actually serving time at this facility.
Location: When most people think of the Folsom Prison they think of Johnny Cash singing "Folsom Prison Blues", written in 1956, and later recorded live at this prison in 1968. This film was shot entirely on location in the Prison which opened in 1880 as a maximum security facility and is the second oldest of the 33 prison facilities currently in operation in California. The track that was built within the five general population cell blocks for this film is still in use today, although a baseball diamond now shares the infield. The stone cells Murphy lived measure 4 feet by 8 feet and still use the cell doors that were made in the 1940s.
Additional Notes: This made for TV drama was originally broadcast March 18, 1979 by ABC and was later released on video cassette by several sources. The running scenes were shot silently and later the breathing and footstrikes were mixed into the soundtrack. The mile distance that they race in this film has never been contested in the modern Olympic Games; instead the 1500 meter distance is ran. In Europe, this 95-minute film was released in the theater and the musical scores are different depending on the release with Jimmie Haskell obtaining TV credit and James Di Pasquale tackling the theatrical version. In additon, the Rolling Stones appear with "Sympathy for the Devil" where Keith Richards plays an excellect lead guitar solo (he also plays the bass on this song) that many teams use as a "warm-up song" before competition. If you want to purchase this film visit Amazon.com to order a used copy or try bidding at one of the auction web sites. The DVD version is from the Netherlands and is in PAL format. These will not play on standard DVD players in the United States and Canada, although you may be able to play it on a multi-region or computer’s DVD drive.