Producer Walter Wanger, who had just been released from a prison term after shooting a man he believed was having an affair with his wife, wanted to make a film about the appalling ... See full summary »
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Producer Walter Wanger, who had just been released from a prison term after shooting a man he believed was having an affair with his wife, wanted to make a film about the appalling conditions he saw while he was incarcerated. He got together with director Don Siegel and they came up with this film, in which several prison inmates, to protest brutal guards, substandard food, overcrowding and barely livable conditions, stage an uprising, in which most of the inmates join, and take several guards hostage. Negotiations between the inmates and prison officials are stymied, however, by politicians interfering with the prison administration, and by dissension and infighting in the inmates' own ranks. Written by
I hadn't even heard of this movie before until I stumbled upon the DVD of it at my neighborhood video store, and I decided to take a risk and rent it. After watching it, I'm glad I took a chance. Though the movie does seem a little tame when compared to modern day prison movies, it still packs a decent sized punch. It does bring up some of the brutal things prisoners have to go through, as well as the sometimes brutal behavior of prisoners themselves. And the way things are wrapped up at the end does come across as believable. The authentic feel of the movie is greatly assisted by shooting in a real prison with real inmates and guards.
If I have a complaint about the movie, it would be that none of the characters are really examined deeply. I would have liked to have learned more about some of the ringleaders of the riot, as well as some of the guards. Though such deeper examinations might have made the movie much longer than the lean yet efficient eighty minute running time, and the movie might have dragged. But that's a minor problem; the movie as a whole works very well.
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