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Howard W. Koch
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A quite decent prison-break movie once you get past the very long intro junk
Canon City (1948)
A simple loud warning up front--the first twenty minutes or so is a horrible, stiff, documentary kind of lead-in to the movie proper. When the dramatic action gets going, it becomes fully a movie with suspense, character, speed, and even at times complexity. In fact, you could even fast forward to where you see the buy in the jail cell doing a model of a ship.
The stuff before that is not needed. It tells us what we already know about prison, though it seems to use real inmates in brief interviews, as if to set up the later jailbreak as something more tangible and believable.
It isn't giving anything away to say that some inmates escape--that's the whole hook of the movie--and then what happens to each group or individual in their attempts to get out of Canon City is what drives the movie in a series of somewhat independent vignettes. The encounters with regular town people in their homes is a little contrived but also has the edge of fear to it, and suspense. It works pretty well, the cops gradually closing in on this or that escapee.
The end result is still almost a public relations piece about the prison system, about ordinary Americans who rise up and do heroic things, and about the different kinds of attitudes of the inmates, who are people after all. I actually liked the second half of the movie, even it it wasn't completely original or brilliant. The acting is meant to be believable in a vernacular kind of way, and it is. Give it a look, especially if you like prison flicks.
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