Brute Force (1947)

Not Rated  |   |  Crime, Drama, Film-Noir  |  30 June 1947 (USA)
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Ratings: 7.7/10 from 5,993 users  
Reviews: 59 user | 60 critic

At a tough penitentiary, prisoner Joe Collins plans to rebel against Captain Munsey, the power-mad chief guard.



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Gina Ferrara
Cora Lister
Anita Colby ...
Sam Levene ...
Louie Miller #7033
'Freshman' Stack
Jack Overman ...
Kid Coy
Roman Bohnen ...
Warden A.J. Barnes
Sir Lancelot ...
Vince Barnett ...


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 <>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Raw! Rough! Ruthless! See more »


Not Rated | See all certifications »




Release Date:

30 June 1947 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Brutalidade  »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?


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 »


During the fight in the guard tower between Munsey and Collins, guard Tom seems to have been killed, but the stunt actor Tom Steele who plays him is very clearly doubling Hume Cronyn. See more »


Gallagher: It'll only make things tougher for everybody else.
Joe Collins: I don't care about everybody else.
Gallagher: That's cemetery talk.
Joe Collins: Why not, we're buried, ain't we? Only thing is, we ain't dead.
See more »


Referenced in The Shawshank Redemption (1994) See more »


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

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User Reviews

Nobody Can Ever Escape From the Prison
2 September 2007 | by (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil) – See all my reviews

In the Westgate Penitentiary, the Warden A. J. Barden (Roman Bohnen) is a weak man, and the institution is actually ruled by the ambitious and sadistic Captain Munsey (Hume Cronyon), who uses violence, fear and treachery to control the prisoners. After the suicide of Tom Lister (Whit Bissell), one of the inmates of cell R17, provoked by Captain Munsey, the prisoners loses their privileges and rest of the group of cell R-17 leaded by Joe Collins (Burt Lancaster) is sent to hard and insalubrious work in the drain pipe. Joe uses a successful strategy of war trying to escape, attacking the tower of the penitentiary from the outside with his men, and from inside with the team leaded by the leader Gallagher (Charles Bickford). However, the plan fails, ending in a bloodshed.

Sixty years after the original release date, "Brute Force" is still a great movie of prison. The story is very well constructed, with flashbacks showing the connection of three inmates with his women. The violence is not explicitly disclosed like in the present days, but the cruelty of Captain Munsey can be understood even by the most naive viewer. The direction of Jules Dassin is outstanding with many memorable scenes. Yvonne De Carlo has a minor participation, but a strong role. The moralist message in the end, when Dr. Walters (Alt Smith) tells that nobody can escape from penitentiaries, does not spoil this great movie. My vote is eight.

Title (Brazil): "Brutalidade" ("Brutality")

19 of 22 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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