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Escape from Alcatraz (1979)

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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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Popularity
2,103 ( 183)

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Clint Eastwood ... Frank Morris
Patrick McGoohan ... Warden
Roberts Blossom ... Chester 'Doc' Dalton
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 ... 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 (Clint Eastwood) masterminded this elaborately detailed, and, as far as anyone knows, ultimately successful, escape. In twenty-nine years, this seemingly impenetrable federal penitentiary, which housed Al Capone and "Birdman" Robert Stroud, was only broken once by three inmates who were never heard of again. Written by movetosquamish

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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Did You Know?

Trivia

The character of English (Paul Benjamin) was based on Alcatraz prisoner Clarence Carnes. In real life, Carnes was a dark-skinned Choctaw Indian, not a black man. See more »

Goofs

When Doc is painting in the prison yard, the spots of wet paint on the left-hand side of the canvas change. Doc and Frank are having a conversation - the shots showing Frank speaking do not show the canvas for the most part, while the ones that show Doc speaking do. The wet spots increase and decrease in size and number every time the canvas is shown. See more »

Quotes

English: [after Doc chopped off his fingers] I heard about Doc, and I know why he did it. Somebody took away his painting privileges.
See more »

Crazy Credits

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

Connections

Referenced in Hope & Faith: Escape from Albuquerque (2004) See more »

Soundtracks

D Block Blues
by Gilbert Thomas Jr.
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User Reviews

 
solid prison-breakout flick with machismo wit and fine touches of ambiguity
2 September 2007 | by Quinoa1984See all my reviews

The last of the five collaborations between director Don Siegel and producer/actor Clint Eastwood, Escape from Alcatraz isn't a great blockbuster action flick like Dirty Harry or an experiment like the Beguiled. It is more the former, if anything, and a crackerjack example at best of what to do in crafting suspense from the elements of basic despair in the mindset of men. Barely sentimental (the exception might be with the loss of painting privileges for one prisoner), the film is an examination of a cold system put on by hard-bitten prisoners who are stuck by what the character English says is "one huge count." It isn't a kind of existential struggle like A Man Escaped, nor a big bombastic crowd-pleaser like Shawshank Redemption either. But for its intended audience, which are fans of its perennial heroic star, and for the lean style from director Siegel, it's one always worth a look when it pops up on TV or if it remains sitting all by itself on the video shelf at the store.

Basics to know: Eastwood plays Frank Morris, a criminal who broke out of an Atlanta prison and got sent to Alcatraz, the most insurmountable prison ever constructed. But after taking enough guff from the exacting prison warden (McGoohan looks like he's not entirely acting, as if he's been a warden for years and years, which is why he's one of the most convincing of all movie wardens), getting stuck in the horror that is 'the hole', and seeing the damage done to fellow prisoners, he takes action through the crumbling wall of his grate. Among certain accepted- and refreshingly well done- prison movie clichés, we get the big fat brute (Bruce M Fishcer), the wise old inmate (Paul Benjamin, some of his are the subtlest scenes), and the determined but weak-in-the-spirit inmate (Larry Hanklin, a great character actor, one of those like Robert Schiavelli you can spot right away). And all the while, the storytelling goes at a pace that never rushes, never pushes against little details with Litmus or the visitors to the inmates.

If sometimes it doesn't give a little bit of exposition on some characters- like its protagonist (we never know how bad Eastwood really is or not, he just is, though unlike a Nicholson he never really exploits any kind of rebel posit)- and sometimes has a moment of suspense that can be seen right around the corner (a funny sound while digging, trouble with the disguised dummy heads in the beds), the climax practically makes up for any moments of conventionality. Especially if one isn't completely familiar with the real history behind the Alcatraz escape it cranks up to a high degree through the dark shadows of the prison innards and the outside at night. And it's also fascinating to see an indefinite point at the end of the film; it's the attempt that counts, not the total end result. A cool and effective thriller. 8.5/10


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Frequently Asked Questions

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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

22 June 1979 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Escape from Alcatraz See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$8,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$5,306,354, 24 June 1979

Gross USA:

$43,000,000

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$43,004,381
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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