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Riot in Cell Block 11 (1954)

Not Rated | | Crime, Drama, Film-Noir | 28 February 1954 (USA)
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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Writers:

(story), (screenplay)
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Nominated for 2 BAFTA Film Awards. Another 1 nomination. See more awards »
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
James V. Dunn
Emile Meyer ...
Warden Reynolds
...
Commissioner Haskell
Leo Gordon ...
Crazy Mike Carnie
Robert Osterloh ...
The Colonel
Paul Frees ...
Monroe
...
Reporter
Alvy Moore ...
Gator
...
Schuyler
...
Snader
...
Guard Acton
...
Guard Captain Barrett
Harold J. Kennedy ...
Reporter
...
Reporter
Jonathan Hole ...
Reporter Russell
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Storyline

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 frankfob2@yahoo.com

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

YOU ARE CAUGHT IN THE SCORCHING CENTER OF A PRISON RIOT! YOU feel the savage frenzy of 4000 caged humans! YOU see the horror of the wolf pack on a vengeance kick! YOU sweat out every second with tortured hostages! YOU rock with the impact of brute force against bullets! See more »

Genres:

Crime | Drama | Film-Noir

Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

28 February 1954 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Les révoltés de la cellule 11  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

 »
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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Producer Walter Wanger served a four-month prison term for shooting agent Jennings Lang, whom he suspected of having an affair with his wife Joan Bennett. The experiences he had in prison so unnerved him that upon his release he resolved to make a film about what prison was "really" like, not the typical Hollywood prison film made by people who had never been anywhere near a prison or who had never had any experience with the justice system. He shot the film at California's Folsom Prison and used both guards and inmates as extras and technical advisers. Wanger's cast and crew also differed from the Hollywood "norm"; among them were actor Neville Brand, decorated Army veteran of WW II who earned a Silver Star in the Allied European campaign; actor Leo Gordon, another combat veteran who had once served a stretch in Folsom Prison for armed robbery; and then-production assistant Sam Peckinpah, whose father, Denver Peckinpah, was a widely known and respected law-and-order judge in northern California (and whose name alone was enough to get the warden to allow the film to be shot in Folsom). See more »

Connections

Referenced in The Seven Year Itch (1955) See more »

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User Reviews

 
'Watch Those Itchy Fingers'
6 September 2012 | by (Salisbury, United Kingdom) – See all my reviews

Producer Walter Wanger wanted to make a film that exposed the appalling conditions of the prison community - and having been incarcerated himself after shooting a man he was sure was having an affair with his wife - had plenty of personal experience.

The resulting 1954 80 minute gritty drama, almost an unprecedented certificate 15, even now, was directed by Don Siegel. Following a popular format in those days, it starts off with a social documentary approach, complete with concerned voice-over - that this is a public announcement, part expose, part drama. It is not based on fact, at least not from one singular incident.

As you might expect, we follow prison guards (my title is the warning given to them, as they arm-up to thwart the riot), politicians and those who shape policy and of course, a handful of inmates. These provide everyday backbone; their tales are simple and uncomplicated and it's impossible to not side with them, or at least their plight. As ring- leaders take guards hostage, it becomes a nail-biting cat and mouse scenario, with Dunn (Neville Brand) producing ultimatums. Warden Emile Meyer wants negotiation, state officials want only swift force.

The film is well made and tautly directed, efficient but doesn't feel rushed. The version I saw on TCM (Turner Classic Movies) had a slight green cast but was generally good. I imagine that Riot In would have been compelling and possibly controversial viewing for cinema goers. It would have found favour especially amongst those who liked the hard crime film-noir type of dramas of the day, but without any of the glamour of femme fetales.

My guess is that whilst many prison dramas had been made at this point, they were character-lead and not out to socially comment. This would have been as hard-hitting as any TV '60 Minute' (etc) documentary and because it's still a good and credible film, it's still within the public domain, though is rarely shown and expensive to buy.


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