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Brute Force (1947)

 -  Crime | Drama | Film-Noir  -  30 June 1947 (USA)
7.7
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Ratings: 7.7/10 from 5,078 users  
Reviews: 56 user | 56 critic

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

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Title: Brute Force (1947)

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Cast

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

Raw! Rough! Ruthless! See more »


Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »
Edit

Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

30 June 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

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 »

Goofs

The character Soldier is in prison after taking the blame for a murder that took place when he was serving in Italy with the U.S. Army. Therefore, he would not have been in a civilian state prison. He would have been sent to the U.S. Disciplinary Barracks at Fort Leavenworth, as he would have been court-martialed while still being a member of the U.S. Army. At the very least, he would have been sent to a federal prison if he'd somehow (highly unlikely) been able to get sent to a civilian facility. See more »

Quotes

Captain Munsey: [Captain Munsey and another guard are walking through the prison mess hall during the breakfast period, stopping at various tables] Oh, good morning, Gallagher.
Gallagher: Good morning, Captain.
Captain Munsey: I understand you're responsible for settling that little feud over in cell block "J." We appreciate your assistance, of course, but...
Gallagher: The boys and I were only trying to help.
Captain Munsey: [Sarcastically] "You and your boys." There's a very old bylaw in this institution about gangs, or cliques. We don't like them. We don't want ...
[...]
See more »

Connections

Referenced in American Grindhouse (2010) 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

Brute Force is a knockout!
30 October 2004 | by (Seattle, WA) – See all my reviews

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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