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 ...
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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
Ben Gazzara does a very good job as artist/prisoner John Resko in "Convicts 4," based on Resko's autobiography. Desperate to get his daughter a teddy bear for Christmas, Resko attempts to rob a store and ends up shooting and killing the owner. He is given the death penalty, but his sentence is later commuted to life. He is moved to another prison, where he meets a Principal of the prison (Stuart Whitman) who encourages his art talent, stating that it may be the key to his rehabilitation and finally, freedom from prison.
Sammy Davis, Jr., Ray Walston, Broderick Crawford, and Rod Steiger are featured in the film, so it's an excellent cast. The film comes off as low-budget (well, it is based in a prison), a little slow, and a little ordinary. The actors are better than the script.
Worth it for the performances.
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