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The subject of the documentary was a group of cocky teenaged juvenile delinquents and the attempts to make them end their criminal ways by introducing them to actual convicts. Filmed at Rahway State Prison, a group of inmates known as the "lifers" berate, scream at, and terrify the young hoodlums and attempt to "scare them straight" (hence the film's title) by showing an ugly, harsh presentation of the realities of prison life. At film's end, the teenagers decide that they don't want to end up in jail. The movie's narration was provided by Peter Falk.
The film won the Academy Award for Documentary Feature in 1978. It also won Emmy Awards for Outstanding Individual Achievement窶的nformational Program and Outstanding Informational Program.
*Was broadcast uncensored when aired on television in the late 1970s. For many commercial broadcasters, this was the first time the f-word was willingly allowed on TV.
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