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Over-the-hill boxer Bill 'Stoker' Thompson insists he can still win, though his sexy wife Julie pleads with him to quit. But his manager Tiny is so confident he will lose, he takes money ... See full summary »
At overcrowded Westgate Penitentiary, where violence and fear are the norm and the warden has less power than guards and leading prisoners, the least contented prisoner is tough, single-minded Joe Collins. Most of all, Joe hates chief guard Captain Munsey, a petty dictator who glories in absolute power. After one infraction too many, Joe and his cell-mates are put on the dreaded drain pipe detail; prompting an escape scheme that has every chance of turning into a bloodbath. Written by
Rod Crawford <email@example.com>
When the Group Theater (1931-40)--the first American acting company to attempt to put the Russian Konstantin Stanislavski's principles into action--disbanded, many of the actors who had participated in its revolutionary realistic productions on Broadway ("Awake and Sing" "Waiting for Lefty") made their way to Hollywood in search of work. Two of them--Roman Bohnen ("Warden") and Art Smith ("Dr. Walters")--can be seen in this film. As several of the actors in The Group had been members of the Communist Party or "leftist" organizations, they would soon be blacklisted during the "Red Scare" era of Sen. Joseph McCarthy's search for "subversives" in the entertainment industry, one of whom was the director of this film, Jules Dassin. A year before this film was released, Kazan--who had appeared before the McCarthyite House UnAmerican Activities Committee and "named names"--happened to be in Hollywood and saw a production of one of Tennessee Williams' early plays, "Portrait of a Madonna", directed by Hume Cronyn, who plays the sadistic Capt. Munsey in this film. Kazan was so impressed by the work of Cronyn's wife, Jessica Tandy, that he offered her the role of Blanche Dubois in his Broadway production of "A Streetcar Named Desire." See more »
During a scene in the cell, Jeff Corey's character is washing his hair. His hair alternates between lathered and not lathered. See more »
[to Captain Munsey]
That's why you'd never resign from this prison. Where else whould you find so many helpless flies to stick pins into?
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One of the best prison movies ever made.Jules Dassin's direction is so strong ,so precise,so mind-boggling it packs a real wallop.Hume Cronyn gives a subdued but extremely scary portrayal of a sadistic brute.Always in a suave voice,always saying "I want to help you",there's only one way for him:the hard one.Burt Lancaster is equally efficient as a tough inmate .But the whole cast cannot be too highly praised.
The cast and credits read :"the women from outside" .There are four flashbacks which really fit into the movie.All of them last barely two or three minutes but they could provide material for four other movies. The first one (Flossie's ) verges on farce ,it is the comic relief of a desperate movie and we need it!Then the "fur coat" segment which is some kind of Cinderella turned film noir.The third one,perhaps the less interesting (everything is relative!), features Yvonne De Carlo as an Italian girl during the war the former soldier was in love with .And finally Burt Lancaster's story, he tries to find money to pay his girlfriend's operation.
These flashbacks are not gratuitous:all that is left to those men is memories .Besides,the last line tells us something like that:"nobody will escape!nobody!" More than ten years before ,Dassin had shown what French director Jacques Becker would do in his famous prison movie "le trou" (1960) : the prison as a metaphor of the human condition.
There are lots of scenes which will leave you on the edge of your seat.My favorite scene: the informer's death while Lancaster is securing his alibi with the doc.But the final is awesome too,something apocalyptic.
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