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Brute Force (1947)

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At a tough penitentiary, prisoner Joe Collins plans to rebel against Captain Munsey, the power-mad chief guard.

Director:

Jules Dassin

Writers:

Richard Brooks (screenplay), Robert Patterson (story)
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Burt Lancaster ... Joe Collins
Hume Cronyn ... Captain Munsey
Charles Bickford ... Gallagher
Yvonne De Carlo ... Gina Ferrara
Ann Blyth ... Ruth
Ella Raines ... Cora Lister
Anita Colby ... Flossie
Sam Levene ... Louie Miller
Jeff Corey ... 'Freshman' Stack
John Hoyt ... Spencer
Jack Overman ... Kid Coy
Roman Bohnen ... Warden A.J. Barnes
Sir Lancelot Sir Lancelot ... 'Calypso' James
Vince Barnett ... Muggsy - Convict in Kitchen
Jay C. Flippen ... Hodges - Guard
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Storyline

At overcrowded Westgate Penitentiary, where violence and fear are the norm and the warden has less power than guards and leading prisoners, the least contented prisoner is tough, single-minded Joe Collins. Most of all, Joe hates chief guard Captain Munsey, a petty dictator who glories in absolute power. After one infraction too many, Joe and his cell-mates are put on the dreaded drain pipe detail; prompting an escape scheme that has every chance of turning into a bloodbath. Written by Rod Crawford <puffinus@u.washington.edu>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

Mark Hellinger's POWER PACKED PICTURE! (re-release print ad - mostly caps) See more »


Certificate:

Passed | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

August 1947 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Brutalidade See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (Western Electric Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Inspired by the 1946 Battle of Alcatraz in which a riot ran out of control in the prison for two days. See more »

Goofs

When discussing the hill attack during the war, the positions of the convicts change between the shots from outside the cell to the ones inside. See more »

Quotes

'Freshman' Stack: [Joe has just been returned to his cell after spending some time in solitary. His cellmates are bringing him up to date on latest developments] About the stool pigeon, Joe, we made arrangements. Everything is okay.
Joe Collins: Everything's okay? What's okay? Nothing's okay. It never was and it never will be. Not till we're out. You get that? Out.
See more »

Crazy Credits

Starring Burt Lancaster - Hume Cronyn - Charles Bickford as the men on the "Inside" Yvonne De Carlo - Ann Blyth - Ella Raines - Anita Colby as the women on the "Outside" See more »

Connections

Referenced in Heartburn (1986) See more »

Soundtracks

Tannhäuser Overture
(uncredited)
Written by Richard Wagner
Heard when Munsey is interrogating the convict
See more »

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User Reviews

Burt Lancaster-Hume Cronyn Celebrity Deathmatch
1 September 2000 | by dbost-2See all my reviews

Prison movies (and prison TV shows) are a genre unto themselves, and there are many genre requirements:

  • a good shiving


  • a good shanking


  • a machine-shop revenge-shiv-shanking (usu. w/ blow-torches)


  • lingering close-ups of cement


  • tastefully-filmed male rape (after 1970)


  • the insistent stage-whisper, "It's gotta be tonight!"


Well, Jules Dasin's Brute Force has almost all of the above. Burt Lancaster stars as Joe Collins, a hardened con in a cruel penal system who lives for only one hope: escape. Burt's nemesis is Captain Munsey, a sadistic guard played by Mr. Jessica Tandy himself, Hume Cronyn. Now, the very notion that Hume Cronyn could ever pose a physical challenge to Burt Lancaster is silly, so director Dasin wisely keeps them apart for most of the movie, until the extremely violent conclusion.

Lancaster shares a cramped cell with five other convicts, including Charles Bickford and Howard Duff (in his film debut). Their cell is adorned with a calendar featuring a picture of a girl so non-descript that each of the boys can see their own long-lost loves in her face, and we are treated to flashbacks showing how each of these losers got where he is today. Duff's flashback is the best – while a soldier in Italy, he took the rap for a murder committed by his beautiful war-bride, Yvonne De Carlo. Howard Duff with an army-issue machine gun is but one example of how this movie goes above and beyond the usual prison fare.

The preachy scenes involving the prison's resident conscience––I mean doctor––are worth fast-forwarding through (unfortunately those scenes are also genre requirements), and Burt tends to lapse into that sensitive Frankenstein acting that he does so well, but man, what a climax to this movie. It's this life's only opportunity to see a clench-teethed Hume Cronyn firing a gattling gun into an unarmed crowd.


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