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The Prisoner (1955)

 -  Drama  -  11 December 1955 (USA)
7.1
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Ratings: 7.1/10 from 483 users  
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A cardinal is arrested for treason against the state. As a prince of his church, and a popular hero of this people, for his resistance against the Nazis during the war and afterward his ... See full summary »

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Nominated for 5 BAFTA Film Awards. Another 4 wins. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview:
...
...
Wilfrid Lawson ...
The Jailer
Kenneth Griffith ...
The Secretary
Jeanette Sterke ...
The Girl
Ronald Lewis ...
The Guard
Raymond Huntley ...
The General
Mark Dignam ...
The Governor
Gerard Heinz ...
The Doctor
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Storyline

A cardinal is arrested for treason against the state. As a prince of his church, and a popular hero of this people, for his resistance against the Nazis during the war and afterward his resistance when his country again fell to a totalitarian conquerer. In prison, his interrogator is determined to get a confession of guilt against the state from the strong willed man, and thus destroy his power over his people. The verbal and psychological battles are gripping and powerful - not even the increasing pressures put upon the Cardinal can force him to weaken; not even solitary confinement, continuous blazing light in his cell, sleeplessness, efforts to persuade him he is going mad. And yet, in the deepening conflict, the superb indomitable prisoner, creates a tremendous pity on his tormentor, the interrogator. Written by alfiehitchie

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Two of the Finest Performances of All Time! See more »

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Drama

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Release Date:

11 December 1955 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Der Gefangene  »

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Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Deemed suitably controversial enough to be banned from both the Venice and Cannes Film Festivals. See more »

Quotes

The Cardinal: Your masters are in a hurry, I fancy. People who are going to make heaven on earth usually are.
See more »

Connections

Version of The Prisoner (1963) See more »

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User Reviews

 
THE PRISONER (Peter Glenville, 1955) ***
11 April 2009 | by (Naxxar, Malta) – See all my reviews

Inspired by the plight of Catholic Cardinal Josef Mindszenty behind the Iron Curtain – already the subject of a worthwhile low-budget Hollywood film, GUILTY OF TREASON (1950; see above) – this prestigious British production (based on a Bridget Boland play, who adapts her own work for the screen) boasts two powerhouse performances by Alec Guinness (as the proud Prince of the Church) and Jack Hawkins (as the wily Interrogator). Their interaction is a beauty to behold and one cannot help but be reminded how these formidable actors had already worked together in, curiously enough, MALTA STORY (1953) and, of course, would go on to do so again under David Lean's Oscar-winning direction in THE BRIDGE ON THE RIVER KWAI (1957) and LAWRENCE OF ARABIA (1962). Although much of the running time is devoted to their rigorous one-on-one sessions (enough for it to be deemed a two-hander), the film allows (at least) another fine actor to shine: Wilfred Lawson as Guinness' jailer who grows to respect his prisoner with time. The small cast also includes Kenneth Griffith as Hawkins' eager-to-learn subordinate – incidentally, the latter also appeared in two episodes of Patrick McGoohan's later cult TV series of the same name but which bore no relation to this movie! – and Raymond Huntley as Hawkins' impatient superior. Conversely, the romantic subplot between doubting Communist Ronald Lewis and his Catholic girlfriend Jeanette Sterke seems forced and intrusive – almost like an afterthought (whereas it had been far more effectively handled in the aforementioned Hollywood treatment). But, as I said before, the film's trump card is its gradual depiction of the evolving relationship between the two leads, which really has no equivalent in GUILTY OF TREASON (where Charles Bickford's tormentors were various and generally shrouded in darkness). Although the main characters and the setting remain unnamed throughout (lending it a pretentious air of political allegory also missing from the earlier film), the controversial subject of THE PRISONER got it banned from participating in both the Cannes and Venice Film Festivals – although it did get nominated for 5 BAFTAs and, eventually, won a couple of other international awards.


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