Breakout (1959) Poster


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Nifty Low-Budget British Prison-Break Movie
Joseph_Gillis4 December 2012
62 Minutes, and no mucking around.

The judge has hardly finished reading out the sentence he imposed on Arkwright, than his wife is getting in touch with 'fixer'. Chandler, who will arrange to spring him from prison. We do get a chance to draw breath during the cosy domestic scenes between the civil servant ex-con chosen for the job, played by charismatic Lee Patterson, and wife Billie Whitelaw, before we're off and running again and our hearts are in our mouths when it looks as if the break will be frustrated.

This is the kind of film that Woody 'One Shot' Van Dyke would have been proud to have made in his heyday: no muss, no fuss, just give the public what they want.

It ain't art, but I loved it, and it ended with a smile on my face, although I'm not saying who else had.

Zippy direction, good location shooting, including car chases, a 'bar- room brawl', and 'a bit on the side'. What more do you want?

Wonderful playing by Patterson, Whitelaw, Hazel Court, as Arkwright's glamorous 'femme fatale' wife, and the perennially caddish Terence Alexander. With Dermot Kelly, as the Irishman who whips up a storm in a bar, in order to become the inside man And almost steal the film.
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From the days when crime didn't pay
Enoch Sneed15 November 2014
Warning: Spoilers
With a tight script and good performances this fast-paced second feature zips along for about an hour, with every scene moving the story along and developing the characters. There is plenty of suspense brought out of the story of a prison break, the planning, the execution, and the climax. There's even a smattering of extra-marital sex, just to prove it didn't begin in 1963 "between the end of the Chatterley ban / And the Beatles' first LP".

It's only the climax that - these days - lets the film down a little. It would be great to see George Munro sitting with his wife in front of the new television set she so desires (a real luxury item in 1959), purchased with his ill-gotten gains. Unfortunately this was the era when crime could not be seen to pay, although his downfall is shown so perfunctorily ("We found your name in Chandler's notebook") you have the feeling the writer and director were on the side of the anti-hero too.

This is a great little film, not high art, but it does its job and is genuinely suspenseful.
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Excellent, well produced small scale b-pic crime thriller.
jamesraeburn200328 December 2016
Warning: Spoilers
John Arkwright (John Paul) is sentenced to seven years in prison for fraud and has absolutely no intention of serving it. His wife, Rita (Hazel Court), pays £1,500 to Chandler (William Lucas) who agrees to bust him out of jail. He hires George Munro (Lee Patterson) to plan the escape and with the help of Farrow (Terence Alexander) he checks out the prison and learns that Morgan Supplies Ltd are the firm who deliver goods to it. Munro secures a driving job with the company and arranges for the guy who normally does the prison run to have an accident in order to take his place. In addition, a contact man is placed inside the prison in the form of Irishman O' Quinn (Dermot Kelly) who deliberately gets himself arrested by starting a pub brawl. Munro constructs a partition to be fitted inside the van so Arkwright can hide behind it and they can leave the jail undetected. They pull it off but even the seemingly cleverest of jailbreaks can go wrong.

Excellent, well produced small scale second feature in which the jailbreak sequences carry a real charge of suspense and there is a marvelous pub brawl in which O' Quinn (Dermot Kelly) deliberately starts a fight in order to get sent down so he can help Munro get Arkwright over the wall. The vigorous direction is by Peter Graham Scott who would go on to do notable work on TV such as Danger Man, The Avengers and The Onedin Line as well as dramas such as The Last Enemy and The Four Seasons of Rosie Carr. In his early days he made a string of second features such as this little gem and the highly praised Devil's Bait (1959) and The Big Day (1960). My indispensable copy of An Autobiography of British Cinema (Brian McFarlane) praised them as "marked by excellent acting and impressive concern for the minutiae of everyday life at lower middle class levels." That description applies here. For example, we see Munro in his mundane job forever criticised by his foreman for his constant "lack of attention to detail" in his work: he's designing a drainage system. It is clearly a job he doesn't like since he spends much time drawing on his graph paper out of sheer boredom. Then, in order to do his job for Chandler, he secures time off from his day job on the pretext of family problems and takes the driving job under a false name and a forged licence. All the while his wife, played by Billie Whitelaw, is none the wiser of his criminal activities. We get an insight into Munro's home life: a pretty ordinary marriage with the wife always pestering him to do better, to make more money and wanting a TV set that he refuses to buy on hire purchase saying that at least everything they own in the house - the furniture, for example - is paid for adding that "it's not much but at least we own it." The idea of this ordinary working man having a double life, shall we say, as a jail breaker suggesting a man determined to escape his normal everyday existence is appealing and for a film of this small scale, the emphasis on character is better than we might have expected.
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