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17 user 6 critic

The Last Mile (1959)

Not Rated | | Drama, Thriller | 3 July 1959 (West Germany)
A prison break is attempted the same night an execution occurs on death row.

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
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John Vari ...
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Harry Millard ...
John McCurry ...
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Tom D'Amoro (as John Seven)
George Marcy ...
Pete Rodriguez
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Drake (as Donald Barry)
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Milton Selzer ...
Frank Conroy ...
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Storyline

A prison break is attempted the same night an execution occurs on death row.

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Plot Keywords:

prison | remake | See All (2) »

Genres:

Drama | Thriller

Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »
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Details

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Release Date:

3 July 1959 (West Germany)  »

Also Known As:

A Última Caminhada  »

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Technical Specs

Sound Mix:

(RCA Sound Recording)
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Film debut of Milton Selzer. See more »

Quotes

Narrator: Sometimes you have to put your faith in what you can't see. In what you wish.
See more »

Connections

Remake of The Last Mile (1932) See more »

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User Reviews

 
the ultimate prison noir
22 February 2011 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

Man I didn't know what I was in for when I sat down to watch this brutal little gem. This portrait of a doomed attempted prison break from a death row cell block hits very hard, and it left me shaking my head in stunned silence.

I'm not surprised to learn from other reviews here that this story began its life as a stage play; most of the action takes place on one set, it features an ensemble cast with multiple meaty roles, and the first half of the film works at a deliberate pace with longer takes and scenes than are conventionally cinematic. It walks a thin line, how to get across the agonizing boredom of being in such a lockup, without becoming boring itself? The answer is to spread dialog around, and to give a lot of weight to mundane events, magnifying tensions and emotions. It gives the excellent cast a lot of room to create, if not exactly sympathy, at least an understanding of where the characters are coming from.

The second half (or maybe final third) of the movie is an altogether different animal, as the ticking timebomb of Mickey Rooney's John Mears explodes into violent retribution. Mears is a complicated character, an atheist and maybe a nihilist, but he cares deeply about his fellow death row inmates. Rooney's performance is AMAZING and dominates this section of the film. Also excellent are Clifford David as the youngest man on the row, next scheduled to be executed, and Frank Overton as Father O'Connors, the priest who gives the condemned men their last rites. His character shows tremendous courage as events spiral into bloodshed; he has a lot more backbone than the guards, who for the most part are sniveling, cowardly, sadistic creeps.

And as others have noted, the jazz score is outstanding, dynamic, punchy, and powerful. It maybe calls attention to itself a little too much, but it's wildly effective in underlining and slapping exclamation points on events throughout the film.

In short, terrific.


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