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Brute Force (1947)

Not Rated | | Crime, Drama, Film-Noir | 30 June 1947 (USA)
2:13 | Trailer

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



(screenplay), (story)



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


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


Raw! Rough! Ruthless! See more »


Not Rated | See all certifications »




Release Date:

30 June 1947 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Brutalidade  »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


A previous commentator claimed that the doctor's breakfast was set down in his office, ignored in lieu of booze. In Calypso's rhyme he states that indeed that is the warden's breakfast, not the doctor's. See more »


During a scene in the cell, Jeff Corey's character is washing his hair. His hair alternates between lathered and not lathered. See more »


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 »


Referenced in The Uncomfortable Man (1948) See more »


Tannhäuser Overture
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.

36 of 48 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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