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The Jericho Mile is a 1979 Emmy Award-winning USA TV crime film, directed by Michael Mann.
The film won 5 awards, 3 of those being Emmy Awards.
Peter Strauss … Larry Murphy
Richard Lawson … R.C. Stiles
Roger E. Mosley … Cotton Crown
Brian Dennehy … Dr. D
Geoffrey Lewis … Dr. Bill Janowski
Billy Green Bush … Warden Earl Gulliver
Ed Lauter … Jerry Beloit
Larry Murphy was convicted of 1st degree murder and serving a life term for the shooting his father. He feels was justified because his father was raping his step sister. In prison he is nicknamed “Lickety Split” by the other inmates, but remains a loner who has only one person he calls a friend: a black inmate named Stiles. The film centers around his obsession for running around the prison yard. Larry has no idea how fast he is actually running until the prison psychologist (Geoffrey Lewis) has the prison sports writer time him. Once the warden (Billy Green Bush) finds out just how fast Murphy is, he has the state track and field coach (Jerry Beloit) bring up a couple of his distance runners to run against Murphy. Murphy beats them and ultimately allows the track coach to train him in anticipation of the upcoming olympic trials. Before that can happen however, a new track has to be built to proper specs in the yard for Murphy to run on so he can register an official time to be eligible to compete at the olympic trials. The Warden asks the inmates to volunteer to build the new track.
Stiles manages to swing a deal with the head of the white gang, Dr. D, (Brian Dennehy), to get a conjugal visit with his wife 3 months early so he can see his new baby. Instead of Stiles’ wife showing up, one Dr. D’s drug “mules” is put in her place so that Stiles can bring in some drugs. Stiles refuses to participate and goes back to his cell resulting in the “mule” getting arrested.
Stiles tells Murphy what happened and Murphy convinces Stiles to go into isolation. Stiles is killed after the prisoners are let out however. The conflicts continue with Murphy and the white gang, and the black gang and as a result, the white gang boycotts the building of the track and forms a picket line that the other gangs refuse to cross.
As the story continues, the truth unfolds and a gang fight ensues as the blacks and the Hispanics challenge the validity of the pickett line. The track is built and Murphy clocks a qualifying time while beating Frank Davies (considered to be one of the fastest milers in the U.S.) to be able to compete in the Olympic trials. Murphy is then called before the U.S Olympic board where it is learned that it was never the board’s intention to let a convicted murderer compete at the Olympic trials. Murphy is antagonized by the board member to try to find out if Murphy is sorry for what he did to his father. In a fit of anger, Murphy admits he would “blow him away” all over again given the same set of circumstances.
With his shot at the Olympics over, life at Folsom Prison (filmed on location in the prison itself and amongst the prison population) returns to normal. Murphy hears that Frank Davies qualifies for the Olympics with an exceptional time. He then goes to his cell and grabs the stop watch (given to him by Dr. Janowski) and his spikes. Murphy sets himself up on the start line with the obvious intention of seeing how he would have done had he raced against Davies. Murphy races as hard as he can while grabbing the attention of the prison inmates once more. As he crosses the finish line, a group of inmates are waiting with huge anticipation as to how Murphy did. An inmate grabs the stopwatch and yells out that Murphy beat Davies time at which point Murphy throws the stopwatch against the prison wall, smashing it to pieces.