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Escape from Alcatraz (1979)

Alcatraz is the most secure prison of its time. It is believed that no one can ever escape from it, until three daring men make a possible successful attempt at escaping from one of the most infamous prisons in the world.

Director:

Don Siegel (as Donald Siegel)

Writers:

J. Campbell Bruce (book), Richard Tuggle (screenplay)
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Clint Eastwood ... Frank Morris
Patrick McGoohan ... Warden
Roberts Blossom ... Chester 'Doc' Dalton
Jack Thibeau Jack Thibeau ... Clarence Anglin
Fred Ward ... John Anglin
Paul Benjamin ... English
Larry Hankin ... Charley Butts
Bruce M. Fischer ... Wolf
Frank Ronzio ... Litmus
Fred Stuthman ... Johnson
David Cryer David Cryer ... Wagner
Madison Arnold Madison Arnold ... Zimmerman
Blair Burrows Blair Burrows ... Fight Guard
Bob Balhatchet Bob Balhatchet ... Medical Technical Assistant
Matthew Locricchio Matthew Locricchio ... Exam Guard (as Matthew J. Locricchio)
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Storyline

The true story of three inmates who attempt a daring escape from the infamous prison, Alcatraz Island. Although no-one had managed to escape before, bank robber Frank Morris masterminded this elaborately detailed and, as far as anyone knows, ultimately successful, escape. In 29 years, this seemingly impenetrable federal penitentiary, which housed Al Capone and "Birdman" Robert Stroud, was only broken once by three inmates never heard of again. Written by Niz

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

No one has ever escaped from Alcatraz... And no one ever will!


Certificate:

PG | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

22 June 1979 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Flucht von Alcatraz See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$8,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$5,306,354, 24 June 1979, Wide Release

Gross USA:

$43,000,000
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Film debut of Danny Glover, as one of the prison inmates. He's the inmate that Frank first encounters when delivering books. See more »

Goofs

In his opening monologue, the warden mentions his predecessors, including a previous warden named Johnson. He's presumably referring to James A. Johnston (note the T in his last name, which the warden does not pronounce), who was the first warden of Alcatraz, presiding over its opening in 1934 and retiring in 1948. See more »

Quotes

Litmus: What's your name kid?
Charley Butts: Charley Butts.
Litmus: Charley's Butt? Hahahah, you got a pretty friggin' funny name kid.
Charley Butts: Oh yeah? What's yours?
Litmus: Al Capone.
See more »

Crazy Credits

Opening credits prologue: JANUARY 18, 1960 SAN FRANCISCO See more »

Connections

Referenced in Tatort: Märchenwald (2004) See more »

Soundtracks

D Block Blues
by Gilbert Thomas Jr.
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

 
Escape impossible?
6 March 2007 | by lost-in-limboSee all my reviews

Frank Morris was a bank robber who has escape many prisons in his time, but for his troubles his transported from Atlanta and shipped off to the rock they call Alcatraz. Where supposedly no one can escape. The maximum security prison life is jarringly miserable and hopeless. The prison warden intends to keep it that way. Morris makes some friends, but also an enemy which wants to see him dead, after turning down his proposal with brute force. Through a small glimpse of hope and luck. Morris actually discovers a possible way of escape and carefully plans it out with the aid of a couple of inmates.

You can always count on the influential pairing of Clint Eastwood and Don Siegel. No matter what. On their filth and final partnership they come up with another genuine winner in the shape of the grippingly harrowing and sedated prison yarn shaped off J. Campbell Bruce's novel (and the supposed true story) of the only three men to break out of Alcatraz. It's hard not marvel at Siegel's sturdily compact craftsmanship in depicting the dour prison life with moody realism and how the story eventually folds out into a tautly drawn up break out attempt. The build up doesn't sway off course, but sticks to its simple narrative and characteristics with effective results. There's nothing explosive and downright exciting, but there's spirit lurking under the cold looking domain that eventually comes through. Like quoted in the film the rock would either break you or inspire you to fight on. The smartly layered plot works this into the characters very successfully and despite the predictability, it stays admirably honest without the need of sensationalising the facts and ambiguous conclusion. It starts of small and stays that way to the end, even with its dominantly large situation. The well-articulated script by Richard Tuggle is scanty with a lot of quiet patches. But it when comes to the forefront it manages to be cunning, but also touching. There's nothing overwrought here and gladly it doesn't succumb to that. Pacing is quite subdued, but this helps enhances the creaky mood and sophomoric nature of Alcatraz. Drama and action is kept to a minimal. Being shot on Alcatraz help chipped out such a towering and gritty presence the film held strongly and Bruce Surtees' fixedly expressive cinematography gets amongst the shadowy, dank and gloomy interior. Jerry Fielding's poignantly lingering and uncanny music score only adds more to the nauseating air whiffed up through the presentation. Clint Eastwood plays it quite steely and lean. He fit's the role smoothly as Morris. The support roles are reliably good, even if they are stuck with generic characters. Patrick McGoohan is sinisterly fine as the warden and Robert Blossom and Frank Ronzio are delightfully moving as two elder prison inmates. Paul Benjamin, Bruce M. Fischer, Fred Ward and Larry Hankin as the edgily weak-minded Charley Butts are memorably excellent in their parts.

We've been down this path before, but this efficient offering plays it cards in a very understated manner and is to the point that I found it hard not to be fascinated by it's bitter depiction. Take the chance with this fortress.


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