In this jarring, tough-talking documentary, 17 repeat juvenile delinquents are escorted into a New Jersey maximum-security penitentiary for a sit-down with hardened convicts serving life sentences. With brutal candor and intimidating physicality, the lifers school their younger peers about exactly what to expect if they ever get sent up to the Big House.
Shapiro's Oscar-winning feature did in 1978 what no law-enforcement officers were capable of: put cocky juveniles face to face with some of the state's most dangerous and notorious criminals, the very men they'd meet in prison if they continued to live an outlaw street life, in hopes of scaring them straight. The felons go far beyond griping about what the food's like or how cramped their quarters are – they get graphic, giving impromptu speeches that are as frightening as they are enlightening. Narrated by Peter Falk, this shocking and disturbing film remains one of the most influential documentary projects of the late 20th century.