A semi-fictionalized version of John Resko's incarceration is presented. John is on death row at Sing Sing for murder. In December 1930, he killed a toy store shopkeeper over a teddy bear ...
See full summary »
Detective Sam Campbell and his perky sidekick Robby Vance are called in on a routine child support dispute. Things take an unexpected turn when the client's ex-father-in-law, the head of a ... See full summary »
Inspector Marney of Scotland Yard travels to Calcutta to investigate the murder of Leonard Lee, a generally despised man in these parts. John Wales, who did consider Lee a friend - his best... See full summary »
Federal Airlines ace pilot Chick Faber is grounded by Flight Superintendent Bill Graves when a doctor says his eyesight is failing. Aided by Mary Norvell and Nan Hudson, Graves persuades ... See full summary »
Kay Kyser is late to his wedding. He is taking a short cut through Central Park when he finds out that he is in the army and is due to check in that afternoon. It turns out that the army ... See full summary »
Parting company with her on-stage partner Professor Orco partly due to the job being potentially hazardous to her health, streetwise but kind-hearted vaudeville performer Maisie Ravier, in ... See full summary »
Mei Lee Ling, an astrology expert, tells one of her fellow passengers on a ship, that he will die within two days and the next day he is dead. The police suspects that Mei does know ... See full summary »
Lowly clerk Aubrey Piper has a fondness for exaggerating about himself to impress people. His fantastic tales of visiting China and working as a manager at his place of employment charm his... See full summary »
Jennifer Smith heads a "Consumer Reports"-type company and her reputation for honesty is her greatest asset. While out boating one day she encounters a secret prototype submarine piloted by... See full summary »
Wells Fargo stages are being robbed by 'The Poet' and no one can find out who he is. Wylie is a gambler who is found by the sheriff and gives him the option of going back to a questionable ... See full summary »
A semi-fictionalized version of John Resko's incarceration is presented. John is on death row at Sing Sing for murder. In December 1930, he killed a toy store shopkeeper over a teddy bear he wanted to get as a Christmas present for his two year old daughter, Cathy, but for which he could not pay. Twenty minutes before John's scheduled execution, he is given a reprieve, his sentence commuted to life, and he transferred to Dannemora. He initially has a difficult time adjusting to life at Dannemora, from the uncaring direction of the prison administration including they not dealing with the issue of bed bugs, to altercations with fellow prisoners who seem to want their two pounds of literal and figurative flesh from John, to news that he receives from the outside about goings-on within his family. However, he does eventually befriend many of his fellow prisoners, especially Nick, Iggy and Wino. John dreams of escaping from Dannemora, so that he can be at least an economically generating ... Written by
I've seen quite a few prison movies and this one is a bit different. First off, it's based on a real person. Second, because it's real, it lacks the glamor or sadism of prison films like "Brute Force" or "The Shawshank Redemption". And, unlike the awful "Birdman of Alcatraz" (which completely sanitized a truly evil man), this one sticks pretty close to the facts.
The film begins with John Resko (Ben Gazzara) on death row and in a flashback scene, you learn how he got there. However, shortly before his execution, his sentence is commuted to life in prison and the rest of the film concerns his attempt to cope with prison life. However, unlike the expected outcome (being taken out in a pine box), Resko, with the help of a caring prison guard, finds a means of escape--but not at all the one he expected.
There's a lot more to the film than my brief description. However, it is NOT an action-packed film or one that shows prison being hellish--just boring and a waste of life. It does a good job of this. But what's really neat are the performances. Gazzara was a heck of a good actor and you wonder if he would have been a big star had he possessed Hollywood good looks. But it's not just him--the rest of the cast is quite good. A particular standout is Sammy Davis, but Ray Walston (in a wacky role) and Stuart Whitman are also quite good. Realistic and fascinating...and a bit slow. But this slowness I really appreciated, as the film didn't change facts to make for a non-stop action or suspenseful film--just reality.
2 of 2 people found this review helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?