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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

Paramount Pictures had to spend quite a large amount of money in maintenance, re-fitting, and refurbishment costs on the prison. This totalled around half a million dollars. A great deal of expense and work was required to restore the prison to its 1963 state. Fifteen miles of cable were required to reconnect the island to the city's electricity, much of the wiring having corroded. Many of the improvements were kept intact after the film. For the shoot, water-soluble, removable, and peelable paint, and other temporary camouflages were put over paintings and graffiti painted there by Native American Indians. They had once occupied the island as a political process, and the material was of a heritage nature. After filming, the paint had to be carefully removed, so the markings could be visually recovered. See more »

Goofs

In the beginning, where Frank Morris is being escorted through Alcatraz, we see him from behind, naked. We also see him being escorted by the guards from within a cell, and very brief, you can see that he is wearing a white towel around his hips. In the next shot, he is seen naked from behind again. Finally when being put in his cell, he is once again wearing a towel. See more »

Quotes

Warden: If you disobey the rules of society, they send you to prison; if you disobey the rules of the prison, they send you to US. Alcatraz is not like any other prison in the United States. Here, every inmate is confined ALONE... to an individual cell. Unlike my predecessors, Wardens Johnson and Blackwell, I don't have good conduct programs, I do not have inmate counsels. Inmates here have no say in what they do; they do as they're told. You're not permitted to have newspapers or magazines carrying ...
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Crazy Credits

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


Soundtracks

D Block Blues
by Gilbert Thomas Jr.
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Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

Full of prison clichés but more of a reflection on prison life than a genre movie
31 May 2004 | by bob the mooSee all my reviews

When people disobey the rules of society they get sent to prison. When they disobey the rules of prison they get sent to Alcatraz. Transferred from Atlanta, this is the true story of Frank Morris – the only man to break out of Alcatraz prison. Morris comes to the prison to find cruel guards and monotony are the norm, all resided over by the disinterested warden. With time he makes both friends and enemies and begins to plan his way out of his cell and out of the prison.

I have seen this film once before, probably more than a decade ago and I wasn't going to try and review it from my distant memory of it so I watched it again the other day. From my memory of the film and the opening 15 minutes I assumed that this was just going to be an effective break-out thriller with all the usual clichés in place – the shanks, the old man with a small animal, the old timer who goes nuts etc, and in some regards this is what it is. However it is also very unusual for a prison movie because it is so very low key and slow. In this way it is like the prison life itself – based in routine without a great deal actually happening, certainly the film engages consistently rather than relying on a handful of set pieces to do it. For this reason some viewers may be turned off by it as they expect more from prison dramas, certainly viewers of HBO's Oz cannot help but find this to be lacking in action.

I don't want my comments to be taken out of context so I will say that I think that this is a very effective film in what it tries to do. It is slow but never dull, clichéd but never uninteresting. Siegel's direction shows good control and it is matched by a performance from Clint Eastwood that is so understated that at times it seemed like he would disappear from the screen with a slight whiff of smoke – this was not a showy performance but it was a very good one. He is supported by a cast that delivers mostly clichéd characters but delivers them without overdoing it or pushing it to the point where they are too obvious. The support cast includes turns from Blossum, Benjamin, Fischer, Hankin and Fred Ward. McGoohan doesn't have a great deal to do but he plays his character well, with a strange half smile on his face for much of the time – a knowing look reflecting the irony of the most famous Prisoner becoming the warden perhaps?

Overall this is lacking in fireworks or big set pieces (even the escape at the end is delivered without dramatic flourishes or tense music) but that is it's aim. The film captures the dull routine of prison life including the violence and the treatment while also telling a good story that it has the good taste to leave open as it was in real life.


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