Amid a semi-documentary portrait of New York and its people, Jean Dexter, an attractive blonde model, is murdered in her apartment. Homicide detectives Dan Muldoon and Jimmy Halloran ... 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 (1931-1940)--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 were 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's 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 »
When Munsey talks to Gallagher in the dining hall, the position of the hands of Jackson (the guard standing behind) change between shots. In the longer shot he is holding the baton with his hands on top of the baton; in the closer shot, his right hand is still on top and his left hand holds the baton from underneath. See more »
You know, I was just thinking. An insurance company could go flat broke in this prison.
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I've read recent reviews of this film that condemn it for being "outdated" or not "relevant". Um, hello? This movie is is fifty-seven years old! As such, we are treated to typical 1940s Hollywood stereotypes and acting methods, not to mention references to the recently completed war. Yet, even within the pitfalls of the studio system, this film shines as a great example of film noir.
Director Jules Dassin is brilliant with light, and sets the example for the French "new wave" of cinema. Lighting Burt Lancaster from the side, or from underneath, makes him and the other actors look almost surreal.
Most of the dialogue is "clipped" and preposterous, but films from this era often suffer from this same problem. Yet "Brute Force" retains its original power simply by virtue of the dynamite performances, the stirring score, and the gritty techniques of Dassin.
I had to smile during the scene where Hume Cronyn's character turns up the Wagner on his hi-fi so the guards outside his door won't hear the inmate he's about to beat scream. This was mimicked during David Lynch's ground-breaking TV series "Twin Peaks" when a character turned up his radio before he beat his wife. Of course beating people isn't funny, but seeing obvious references in cinema is always a kick.
I highly recommend "Brute Force" to anyone who appreciates the art of film, great directing, and fine performances.
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