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Adapted from a story by Truman Capote ("In Cold Blood"), the world of the prison convict is open to the viewer. As the story develops, one thing becomes clear. As in the outside world, there is a "system"; and just as on the outside, there is accommodation, honesty, cynicism, violence and all the other factors that make up our society. Three new convicts act as the catalyst for the events that follow; a college teacher, convicted of accidental manslaughter; a young man, sentenced for possession of marijuana; a new guard, interested in changing the system. Inside prison, the 'establlishment' presents itself. The warden doesn't want to rock the boat of the small society within prison walls. A convict dictator controls activities among the inmates thanks to a control of the narcotics traffic. A leader of the black convicts seethes in his own world of racial tension when there is no difference between convicts and authorities. As the film follows the three newcomers, it records the grim, ... Written by
Alan Alda on his autobiography "Never Have Your Dog Stuffed - and Other Things I've Learned" claims that this movie was shoot in real prison with real prisoners as extras. During the filming of the movie, its director Tom Gries made jokes with prisoners that they should take Alan Alda as their hostage because that is the only way they can escape from prison. On the last day of shooting, two prisoners approached Alda and put an improvised knife on his throat telling him that he is their hostage. Luckily prison guard arrived shortly after and carefully negotiated with prisoners to let Alan Alda go. They let him loose telling him that they were just joking. Alda also states that no prisoner was punished for the incident. See more »
There is a scene where the young man is asked to buy cigarettes. He finds out why and begins to argue with the other 2 cons about it. As they all 3 walk into the corridor at the the top left area of the screen, clearly the Mic is seen for about 2 seconds. The same thing happens again near the end of the film, when the guard is talking to the warden in his office. See more »
This film provides a scathing indictment of the American prison system. The story and characters are fictional. But the film was shot entirely in a real-life prison. And many of the extras are actual prisoners.
The lead character is a straight-arrow college professor named Jonathon Paige (Alan Alda). He's a new arrival, and he has no intention of playing the usual prison games. The antagonist is Slocum (Vic Morrow), a veteran prisoner who, along with his buddies, runs Cell Block C, where Paige is assigned. Slocum is a bully who uses a carrot and stick approach to get what he wants. And Cell Block C is his little fiefdom.
The plot is straightforward and easy to follow. There's a lot of dialogue, which is to be expected in a setting that is so closed and claustrophobic. Most of the conflict is verbal, but some is physical. A major plot point that figures in the story's climax is introduced a little late in the story. It needed to be introduced much earlier.
Cast and acting are acceptable. Cinematography is fairly standard. In the copy I watched, images were a tad grainy and blurry. The film has rather little background music. Most of the ambient sounds are natural to the setting.
Prison movies tend to be alike, with the same general setup and depressing tone. "The Glass House" fits within that description. On the other hand, the film's theme is a bit more pronounced. The message is that prisons function off-limits to standard institutional accountability. As a result, corruption flourishes. One is left with the impression that the American prison system is an institutional racket, and the prisoners are victims of the corrupt guards and administrators. In this view, prisons are as criminal as the inmates.
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