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.
Producer, Walter Wanger, who'd just did time (4 mos. after shooting a man he believed was having an affair with his wife), wanted to make a film which showed the appalling conditions he saw whilat incarcerated. Working with Don Siegel, they wrote this film. In protest to the brutal guards, substandard food, overcrowding and poor living conditions, inmates stage an uprising, and take several guards hostage. Negotiations between the inmates and prison officials are stymied, by politicians interfering with the prison administration, and by dissension and infighting amongst the inmates.Written by
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 »
Amongst the cast were actor Neville Brand, a decorated army veteran of WW II who earned a Silver Star in the Allied European campaign; actor Leo Gordon, another combat veteran, who had served 5 years in San Quentin (armed robbery) ;and then-production assistant Sam Peckinpah, whose father, Denver Peckinpah, was a widely known and respected law-and-order judge in northern California (and whose name alone was enough to get the warden to allow the film to be shot in Folsom State Prison). See more »
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 »
I promise you no harm will come to you during this conversation. Guard! These are my instructions. Dunn is to be allowed to come into this yard and return to 11 without interference.
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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 »
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.
The producer Walter Wanger (known for Ford's "Stagecoach" and Hitchcock's "Foreign Correspondent") had recently been in prison for shooting his wife's lover, and his experience there motivated this production. The film was shot on location at Folsom State Prison with real inmates and guards playing background roles.
"Riot in Cell Block 11" was the first film work for Sam Peckinpah, who was hired as a third assistant casting director by Don Siegel. Wanger and Siegel would team up again two years later for "Invasion of the Body Snatchers".
The Criterion release is a must-have, with plenty of background information on those involved, the inspiration, related writings and an excellent audio commentary from a noted film historian.
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