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Riot in Cell Block 11 (1954)

Fed up with the inhumane prison living conditions, a general prison riot breaks out, leading to hostage-taking, a stand-off with the guards and eventual negotiations with the prison administration officials.

Director:

Don Siegel

Writers:

Richard Collins (story), Richard Collins (screenplay)
Reviews
Nominated for 2 BAFTA Film Awards. Another 1 nomination. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Neville Brand ... James V. Dunn
Emile Meyer ... Warden Reynolds
Frank Faylen ... Commissioner Haskell
Leo Gordon ... Crazy Mike Carnie
Robert Osterloh ... The Colonel
Paul Frees ... Monroe
Don Keefer ... Reporter
Alvy Moore ... Gator
Dabbs Greer ... Schuyler
Whit Bissell ... Snader
James Anderson ... Guard Acton
Carleton Young ... Guard Captain Barrett
Harold J. Kennedy Harold J. Kennedy ... Reporter
William Schallert ... Reporter
Jonathan Hole ... Reporter Russell
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Storyline

Producer Walter Wanger, who had just been released from a prison term after shooting a man he believed was having an affair with his wife, wanted to make a film about the appalling conditions he saw while he was incarcerated. He got together with director Don Siegel and they came up with this film, in which several prison inmates, to protest brutal guards, substandard food, overcrowding and barely livable conditions, stage an uprising, in which most of the inmates join, and take several guards hostage. Negotiations between the inmates and prison officials are stymied, however, by politicians interfering with the prison administration, and by dissension and infighting in the inmates' own ranks. Written by frankfob2@yahoo.com

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

YOU ARE CAUGHT IN THE SCORCHING CENTER OF A PRISON RIOT! YOU feel the savage frenzy of 4000 caged humans! YOU see the horror of the wolf pack on a vengeance kick! YOU sweat out every second with tortured hostages! YOU rock with the impact of brute force against bullets! See more »

Genres:

Crime | Drama | Film-Noir

Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

28 February 1954 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Les révoltés de la cellule 11 See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$298,780 (estimated)

Gross USA:

$1,531,755, 31 December 1954
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Walter Wanger Productions See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (Western Electric Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.66 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Leo Gordon was the only actor considered to play the role of Crazy Mike Carnie. See more »

Goofs

When the state police force the convicts back into the prison by launching a barrage of tear gas at them, the police move forward, into the area being bombarded. The convicts are overcome by the gas, but the police aren't - even though they're not wearing gas masks and are enshrouded by the same gas the convicts are. See more »

Crazy Credits

The following acknowledgment appears after the opening credits: "We wish to thank Mr. Richard A. McGee and his staff of the California Department of Corrections, Warden Heinze, Associate Warden Ryan, Correctional officers and the inmates of Folsom Prison for their co-operation." See more »

Connections

Referenced in Who's the Boss?: Diet in Cell Block 11 (1987) See more »

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User Reviews

 
'Watch Those Itchy Fingers'
6 September 2012 | by tim-764-291856See all my reviews

Producer Walter Wanger wanted to make a film that exposed the appalling conditions of the prison community - and having been incarcerated himself after shooting a man he was sure was having an affair with his wife - had plenty of personal experience.

The resulting 1954 80 minute gritty drama, almost an unprecedented certificate 15, even now, was directed by Don Siegel. Following a popular format in those days, it starts off with a social documentary approach, complete with concerned voice-over - that this is a public announcement, part expose, part drama. It is not based on fact, at least not from one singular incident.

As you might expect, we follow prison guards (my title is the warning given to them, as they arm-up to thwart the riot), politicians and those who shape policy and of course, a handful of inmates. These provide everyday backbone; their tales are simple and uncomplicated and it's impossible to not side with them, or at least their plight. As ring- leaders take guards hostage, it becomes a nail-biting cat and mouse scenario, with Dunn (Neville Brand) producing ultimatums. Warden Emile Meyer wants negotiation, state officials want only swift force.

The film is well made and tautly directed, efficient but doesn't feel rushed. The version I saw on TCM (Turner Classic Movies) had a slight green cast but was generally good. I imagine that Riot In would have been compelling and possibly controversial viewing for cinema goers. It would have found favour especially amongst those who liked the hard crime film-noir type of dramas of the day, but without any of the glamour of femme fetales.

My guess is that whilst many prison dramas had been made at this point, they were character-lead and not out to socially comment. This would have been as hard-hitting as any TV '60 Minute' (etc) documentary and because it's still a good and credible film, it's still within the public domain, though is rarely shown and expensive to buy.


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