7.6/10
103,052
156 user 65 critic

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)
Reviews
Popularity
2,758 ( 162)

Watch Now

With Prime Video

ON DISC
ALL

Videos

Photos

Learn more

More Like This 

Dirty Harry (1971)
Action | Crime | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  

When a mad man calling himself 'the Scorpio Killer' menaces the city, tough as nails San Francisco Police Inspector Harry Callahan is assigned to track down and ferret out the crazed psychopath.

Director: Don Siegel
Stars: Clint Eastwood, Andrew Robinson, Harry Guardino
Action | Crime | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  

Secret Service agent Frank Horrigan couldn't save Kennedy, but he's determined not to let a clever assassin take out this president.

Director: Wolfgang Petersen
Stars: Clint Eastwood, John Malkovich, Rene Russo
Magnum Force (1973)
Action | Crime | Mystery
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  

Dirty Harry is on the trail of vigilante cops who are not above going beyond the law to kill the city's undesirables.

Director: Ted Post
Stars: Clint Eastwood, Hal Holbrook, Mitchell Ryan
The Enforcer (1976)
Action | Crime | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.8/10 X  

Dirty Harry must foil a terrorist organization made up of disgruntled Vietnam veterans. But this time, he's teamed with a rookie female partner that he's not too excited to be working with.

Director: James Fargo
Stars: Clint Eastwood, Tyne Daly, Harry Guardino
Mystery | Western
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  

A gunfighting stranger comes to the small settlement of Lago and is hired to bring the townsfolk together in an attempt to hold off three outlaws who are on their way.

Director: Clint Eastwood
Stars: Clint Eastwood, Verna Bloom, Marianna Hill
Western
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.9/10 X  

A Missouri farmer joins a Confederate guerrilla unit and winds up on the run from the Union soldiers who murdered his family.

Director: Clint Eastwood
Stars: Clint Eastwood, Sondra Locke, Chief Dan George
Action | Crime | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.4/10 X  

A classical art professor and collector, who doubles as a professional assassin, is coerced out of retirement to avenge the murder of an old friend.

Director: Clint Eastwood
Stars: Clint Eastwood, George Kennedy, Vonetta McGee
Sudden Impact (1983)
Action | Crime | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.6/10 X  

A rape victim is exacting revenge on her aggressors in a small town outside San Francisco. "Dirty" Harry Callahan, on suspension for angering his superiors (again), is assigned to the case.

Director: Clint Eastwood
Stars: Clint Eastwood, Sondra Locke, Pat Hingle
Firefox (1982)
Action | Adventure | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.9/10 X  

A pilot is sent into the Soviet Union on a mission to steal a prototype jet fighter that can be partially controlled by a neuralink.

Director: Clint Eastwood
Stars: Clint Eastwood, Freddie Jones, David Huffman
Pale Rider (1985)
Western
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  

A mysterious preacher protects a humble prospector village from a greedy mining company trying to encroach on their land.

Director: Clint Eastwood
Stars: Clint Eastwood, Michael Moriarty, Carrie Snodgress
True Crime (1999)
Crime | Drama | Mystery
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.6/10 X  

Can an over-the-hill journalist uncover the evidence that can prove a death row inmate's innocence just hours before his execution?

Director: Clint Eastwood
Stars: Clint Eastwood, Isaiah Washington, LisaGay Hamilton
Action | Comedy
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.3/10 X  

The San Fernando Valley adventures of trucker turned prize-fighter Philo Beddoe and his pet orangutan Clyde.

Director: James Fargo
Stars: Clint Eastwood, Sondra Locke, Geoffrey Lewis
Edit

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)
Edit

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 »
Edit

Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

22 June 1979 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Flucht von Alcatraz See more »

Edit

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 »
Edit

Did You Know?

Trivia

Fresh water had to be hauled in by boat to create the rain in the opening scene. Using saltwater would have damaged expensive equipment. See more »

Goofs

The cell occupied by Frank's blockmate Charlie Butts. See more »

Quotes

Frank Morris: I may have found a way out of here.
See more »

Crazy Credits

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

Connections

Referenced in Best of the Worst: Wheel of the Worst #12 (2016) See more »

Soundtracks

D Block Blues
by Gilbert Thomas Jr.
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more »

User Reviews

 
The Ones Who (Might Have) Got Away
23 December 2010 | by timdalton007See all my reviews

Alcatraz: the escape proof prison located on an island in San Francisco Bay. During its 29 years as a U.S Federal Prison there were over a dozen escape attempts which failed. Yet one attempt in 1962 might just have succeeded in breaking three of its inmates out. That attempt is the focus of the 1979 film Escape From Alcatraz, a superb example of how to bring a real-life story to the screen.

The cast is stellar but low key throughout. Clint Eastwood plays the ringleader of the escape, Frank Morris. Eastwood portrays Morris as being a low key, intelligent and yet charismatic individual who uses both his brain and personality in the lead up to the escape. His nemesis is the cold, ruthless and at times even vindictive prison warden played by Patrick McGoohan in a role that seems tailor made for him even if he only pops up in the film every so often but does so to great effect. Appearing about mid-way through the film to aid in the escape are the Anglin twins who are the played with charm and charisma by Fred Ward and Jack Thibeau. Along the way we meet some of Alcatraz's other prisoners including Paul Benjamin as English, Roberts Blossom as the painter Doc, Frank Ronzio as long term prisoner Litmus, Bruce M. Fischer as the appropriately named prison animal Wolf and Larry Hankin as potential escapee Charley Butts (though the name of the actual prisoner was changed for the film). The performances are all low key which adds to the atmosphere and suspense of the film immensely.

The entire film has an atmosphere of menace and suspense to it. From the moment Morris is brought to the island, director Don Siegel places the viewer into the exact same situation the character (and by extension the real prisoner) finds himself in: a world confined to a small piece of island where time passes by slowly, escape seems impossible and, thanks to fellow prisoners like Wolf, death could potentially hit you at any moment. The film was shot inside the infamous prison itself, the film therefore has a strong sense of authenticity to it that is hard to achieve in a studio set. Sequences such as Morris' time in solitary confinement in D-block or the escape attempt itself showcase this fact.

That sense of authenticity is combined with the work of those behind the camera to create the aforementioned atmosphere. The solitary confinement sequence, for example, is inter-cut by Ferris Webster to include shots of the sun rising and setting over the prison to help give the audience a sense of time that I suspect would have been a luxury to anyone who has ever experienced it. The score from Jerry Fielding is, like the rest of the film, low key to be point of barely being noticeable yet highly effective when it is used. The one thing that brings that atmosphere though is the cinematography of Bruce Surtees which gives the entire film a cold look akin to a permanently gloomy day and permanently dark nights. The result is a film that keeps you on edge the whole time, even if you know how it ends.

Which, in a way, brings us to the script. Richard Tuggle's script, based on the J. Campbell Bruce book of the same name, has the feeling of being a meticulously researched, well thought out piece of writing. The script stays very true to the known facts of the escape with only a few minor changes (such as the name of the potential fourth escapee for example). As a result this film isn't fast paced or action packed. The story builds as we see Morris settling into the prison, adjusting to it, formulate the escape plan and then work towards carrying it out. There's plenty of suspense along the way as each stage has its own risks and potential to go wrong, which keeps the viewer waiting to see what happens next. The result is that the escape attempt itself is made all the more powerful in terms of its suspense. Yet Tuggle keeps his characters at the center and keeps their characterizations firmly anchored in reality. As a result the script makes the film real and suspenseful without ever letting never letting the facts, overwhelm the people.

Escape From Alcatraz is a superb example of how to bring a true story to the screen. From its low key but effective performances to its authenticity and sense of menace, the film is highly effective both as a docudrama and as a suspense film. While those who can only stand the fast pace editing and highly stylistic films of today might find it utterly dull, others will find a fascinating true story brought to life in fine form.


4 of 4 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you? | Report this
Review this title | See all 156 user reviews »

Contribute to This Page

IMDb Freedive: Watch Movies and TV Series for Free

Watch Hollywood hits and TV favorites for free with IMDb Freedive. Start streaming on IMDb and Fire TV devices today!

Start watching

Stream Trending TV Series With Prime Video

Explore popular and recently added TV series available to stream now with Prime Video.

Start your free trial



Recently Viewed