When the new warden comes in disguised as an inmate, he sees firsthand all the corruption and scams the guards and prison officials are running. When he reveals himself and starts to implement reforms to stop the corruption, the local business community, who had been benefiting from the scams, fights back, and the corrupt prison system starts making political trouble for the new warden. Written by
Brian W Martz <B.Martz@Genie.com>
Yaphet Kotto looks through the 1/3 open blinds and watches Redford test the electric 'torture' box on himself.... But immediately before & after, when he's in the office talking w/ Redford, the blinds on both sides of the door are totally closed. See more »
Brubaker (Robert Redford) as a messiah-type, seemingly on the fringe of municipal importance, takes up the job of Warden at a Southern state penal farm and decides to see the extent of what he is up against by entering in disguise as just another inmate, with no privileges. He feels that to absorb the experience from the inside looking out is preferable to relying on preconceptions. He is right as the thrust of the film would have otherwise been lost and the overall plot (simple though it is) is stronger for the fact that Brubaker has 'been there'.
He manages to carve a bond with a few prisoners before he modestly reveals his true identity and, through a series of well acted confrontations, he begins to make the prison machine tick over nicely. In the final analysis his efforts are not totally successful, but the film does reflect change and at least the viewer can agree that he seized the chance to make a difference.
The film is possibly a bit too long and the principal character is under-developed. 'Brubaker' was apparently a rather mournful, strained film to work on and the original director, Bob Rafelson, was sacked for smacking Ron Silverman (producer) in the nose during an early on-set argument.
However, I think it is well acted and very absorbing to watch. I particularly enjoyed the scene where Brubaker gets his staff to release a few long term solitary confinements, stating that before they do so, the requisite pairs of sunglasses should be given to them as they come out of complete darkness for the first time in ages - the staff think Brubaker is crazy: of course, they cannot see that this is all about building trust. The master plan is therefore to get the inmates on board and allow the trustees to follow. Nice theory, not so nice to put into practice as he is up against a rancid, but self policing establishment from day one.
Watch out for Wilford Brimley as "Rogers" - a later teaming up with Redford took place in the outstanding "The Natural", with Brimley starring in a major role as the jaundiced, downtrodden, Pop Fisher.
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