In prison four long-sentence inmates planning an elaborate escape cautiously induct a new inmate to join in their scheme which leads to distrust and uncertainty.

Director:

Jacques Becker

Writers:

José Giovanni (novel), Jacques Becker (adaptation) | 4 more credits »
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Nominated for 2 BAFTA Film Awards. Another 2 wins & 2 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview:
Michel Constantin ... Geo Cassine
Jean Keraudy ... Roland Darban
Philippe Leroy ... Manu Borelli
Raymond Meunier Raymond Meunier ... Vossellin / Monseigneur
Marc Michel ... Claude Gaspard (as Mark Michel)
Jean-Paul Coquelin Jean-Paul Coquelin ... Le lieutenant Grinval (as J. Paul Coquelin)
André Bervil André Bervil ... Le directeur de la prison
Eddy Rasimi Eddy Rasimi ... Bouboule
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Storyline

Just as four cell-mates are about to launch their elaborate escape from a tiny cell, a detainee from a cell-block under repair is transferred in. The four all face certain conviction and long sentences. Does the young new jail-mate have the same incentive and if so, can they trust him? Written by David Stevens

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Genres:

Crime | Drama | Thriller

Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

According to the 1964 press materials that are included in The Criterion Collection DVD, Jacques Becker first read of the 1947 La Santé Prison escape attempt in a newspaper. Years later, he found out that José Giovanni had fictionalized the same escape attempt in his 1957 novel The Break. Becker contacted Giovanni's publisher, Gallimard, and Becker and Giovanni collaborated on the screenplay of Le Trou. See more »

Goofs

In the sewer when Roland Darban is sketching the prison plan, the dirt on the ground is totally flattened while it was a passageway and there should have been some footprints. See more »

Quotes

[first lines]
self: [wiping grease off hands] Hello. My friend Jacques Becker recreated a true story in all its detail. My story. It took place in 1947 at the Sante prison.
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Connections

Referenced in 500 Days of Summer (2009) See more »

User Reviews

 
Masterpiece of Class-Conscious Film-Making
23 February 2003 | by palmiroSee all my reviews

This film is riveting in its attention to the details of a prison escape and to the relations between the men involved. And even if you're not interested in the Marxist vision that inspires Becker in this last film of his, you will still be captivated by the story. In any case, to understand Becker's vision, I will necessarily have to give away the story so beware (and my analysis also makes the film sound much more schematic and polemical than it will appear to you on viewing it):

***SPOILER***

At the beginning of the film one of actors (clearly a car mechanic) approaches the camera and tells us that we are about to see a true story, his story. We are led to believe that it is the story of an escape from prison, and indeed we are taken to Paris' largest prison where a group of 4 cellmates, already plotting their escape, finds that they are unexpectedly joined by a new cellmate: a well-dressed (all prisoners wear their street clothes), somewhat effete, young man who nominally sells cars at (presumably) his father-in-law's dealership--in any case, it's clear that he doesn't really have to work or at least work hard for a living. On the other hand, the other four are clearly working-class guys who've drawn a bad card in life. After debating among themselves whether to let the pretty boy in on their plot, they decide to do so after they learn that he's in for attempted murder and stands to have a strong reason to want to break out.

Becker shows the extraordinary ingenuity of the working-class prisoners in contriving tools, in developing a postal system between cells, and in setting up a way of telling time where there are no clocks or church bells. The implication is: we, the working class, have the minds, the manual dexterity, and the willingness to work and to build our own civilization (minus the bourgeoisie). Meanwhile, the bourgeois type is astonished at how the working-class types are able to organize and think for themselves ('I've never met men like you before')- -and, above all, he is moved by their willingness to share their victuals and their plans for freedom with him. And it is just this solidarity and mutual support which Becker believes represents an alternative way to organize human society--an alternative to the self-centered world of the bourgeois. Note, for example, the character of 'Joe' who opts to not join in the escape because the police would harass his mother to death, but who still does not rat on the others even though it's clear he will have to do additional time and time in solitary after the breakout. Becker has a nice touch as well in the way he portrays the prison guards, also from the working-class: generally friendly towards the 'boys' in prison, with perhaps an authoritarian streak in them but no suggestion of a sadistic, brutish nature. So when 'Roland' says, 'Poor Gaspard,' after the latter has betrayed them (it was clear that he'd been tempted earlier to do so when he saw the taxi from the manhole cover), it is evident that the only real 'brute' is the bourgeois, who, in the end, will always turn on his pals (and his fellow man in general)if it serves his interest and who is bereft of the fellow-feeling which undergirds working-class life. So what about the claim that this is a true story? The actor who plays 'Roland' is a non-professional, but it's hard to imagine that he could be as young as he is if he had actually attempted 3 previous escapes and had to serve another long stretch for the failed attempt portrayed in the film. Instead, it's the 'true story' of the working class: a class dominated by the bourgeoisie but which resists and has the capability to guide itself without the bourgeoisie; a class which embodies the values of solidarity and the dignity of work--values which can become the foundation of an alternative civilization.


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Details

Country:

France | Italy

Language:

French

Release Date:

14 February 1997 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Le Trou See more »

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Box Office

Opening Weekend USA:

$6,756, 2 July 2017

Gross USA:

$34,588

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$34,588
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Company Credits

Production Co:

Filmsonor, Play Art See more »
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Technical Specs

Runtime:

| (1984 restored)

Sound Mix:

Mono (Western Electric Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.66 : 1
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