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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>
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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