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Brute Force (1947)

Not Rated | | Crime, Drama, Film-Noir | August 1947 (USA)
At a tough penitentiary, prisoner Joe Collins plans to rebel against Captain Munsey, the power-mad chief guard.

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(screenplay), (story)
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
...
...
Gallagher
...
Gina Ferrara
...
Ruth
...
Cora Lister
...
Flossie
...
Louie Miller #7033
...
'Freshman' Stack
...
Spencer
Jack Overman ...
Kid Coy
...
Warden A.J. Barnes
Sir Lancelot ...
Calypso
...
Muggsy
...
Hodges
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Storyline

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 <puffinus@u.washington.edu>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

Mark Hellinger's POWER PACKED PICTURE! (re-release print ad - mostly caps) See more »


Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

August 1947 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Brutalidade  »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

This caused quite a stir in 1947, shocking audiences with its levels of violence. See more »

Goofs

When discussing the hill attack during the war, the positions of the convicts change between the shots from outside the cell to the ones inside. See more »

Quotes

Dr. Walters: Important thing, witnesses. Lucky you asked me before exactly what time it was.
See more »

Connections

Referenced in The Uncomfortable Man (1948) See more »

Soundtracks

Tannhäuser Overture
(uncredited)
Written by Richard Wagner
Heard when Munsey is interrogating the convict
See more »

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User Reviews

Burt Lancaster-Hume Cronyn Celebrity Deathmatch
1 September 2000 | by (New York City) – See all my reviews

Prison movies (and prison TV shows) are a genre unto themselves, and there are many genre requirements:

  • a good shiving




  • a good shanking




  • a machine-shop revenge-shiv-shanking (usu. w/ blow-torches)




  • lingering close-ups of cement




  • tastefully-filmed male rape (after 1970)




  • the insistent stage-whisper, "It's gotta be tonight!"




Well, Jules Dasin's Brute Force has almost all of the above. Burt Lancaster stars as Joe Collins, a hardened con in a cruel penal system who lives for only one hope: escape. Burt's nemesis is Captain Munsey, a sadistic guard played by Mr. Jessica Tandy himself, Hume Cronyn. Now, the very notion that Hume Cronyn could ever pose a physical challenge to Burt Lancaster is silly, so director Dasin wisely keeps them apart for most of the movie, until the extremely violent conclusion.

Lancaster shares a cramped cell with five other convicts, including Charles Bickford and Howard Duff (in his film debut). Their cell is adorned with a calendar featuring a picture of a girl so non-descript that each of the boys can see their own long-lost loves in her face, and we are treated to flashbacks showing how each of these losers got where he is today. Duff's flashback is the best – while a soldier in Italy, he took the rap for a murder committed by his beautiful war-bride, Yvonne De Carlo. Howard Duff with an army-issue machine gun is but one example of how this movie goes above and beyond the usual prison fare.

The preachy scenes involving the prison's resident conscience––I mean doctor––are worth fast-forwarding through (unfortunately those scenes are also genre requirements), and Burt tends to lapse into that sensitive Frankenstein acting that he does so well, but man, what a climax to this movie. It's this life's only opportunity to see a clench-teethed Hume Cronyn firing a gattling gun into an unarmed crowd.


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