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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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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:

Raw! Rough! Ruthless! 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

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The second of three films that Burt Lancaster made for Mark Hellinger, the writer-producer who discovered the former acrobat and turned him into a movie star. The first of these was The Killers (1946) and the three-picture contract was completed with Criss Cross (1949), a film Hellinger never lived to see, as he died before production began. His widow insisted that Lancaster honor the contract he had with her husband. See more »

Goofs

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 »

Quotes

Captain Munsey: Just remember there's no reward for bringing 'em back alive. Not in this jungle.
See more »

Connections

Features The Egg and I (1947) 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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