HOME |  CULT MOVIES | COMPETITIONS | ADVERTISE |  CONTACT US |  ABOUT US
 
 
 
Newest Reviews
Nightwing
Shadow of the Hawk
Month of Single Frames, A
Last Moment of Clarity
Fukushima 50
Dreams on Fire
Sing as We Go!
Burnt Orange Heresy, The
Craft Legacy, The
Eye of the Storm
Inflatable Sex Doll of the Wastelands
Where No Vultures Fly
Come True
Kagemusha
Justine
Poly Styrene: I Am a Cliché
Madchen in Uniform
Fire Will Come
Suspect
Jailbreak Pact
News of the World
Dementer
Beyond Clueless
Stylist, The
Sky is On Fire, The
Wrong Turn
In a Year with 13 Moons
Blush
Strange Affair of Uncle Harry, The
Sinners, The
Tammy and the T-Rex
Archenemy
Zappa
Mindwarp
State Secret
Mogul Mowgli
Owners, The
Twentieth Century, The
Story of Gilbert and Sullivan, The
What Lies Below
   
 
Newest Articles
Network Double Bills: All Night Long and Ballad in Blue
Chew Him Up and Spit Him Out: Romeo is Bleeding on Blu-ray
British Body Snatchers: They Came from Beyond Space on Blu-ray
Bzzzt: Pulse on Blu-ray
The Tombs Will Be Their Cities: Demons and Demons 2 on Arrow
Somebody Killed Her Husband: Charade on Blu-ray
Network Double Bills: Maroc 7 and Invasion
Network Double Bills: The Best of Benny Hill and The Likely Lads
Network Double Bills: Some Girls Do and Deadlier Than the Male
Absolutely Bananas: Link on Blu-ray
Network Double Bills: Hawk the Slayer and The Medusa Touch
The Price of Plague: The Masque of the Red Death on Blu-ray
Network Double Bills: Seance on a Wet Afternoon and Ring of Spies
Chaney Chillers: Inner Sanctum Mysteries - The Complete Film Series on Blu-ray
Adelphi Extras: Stars in Your Eyes on Blu-ray
Toons for the Heads: Fantastic Planet and Adult Animation
Nature Girl: The New World on Blu-ray
Network Double Bills: Perfect Friday and Robbery
Network Double Bills: The House in Nightmare Park and The Man Who Haunted Himself
Newley Minted: The Strange World of Gurney Slade on Blu-ray
Bad Love: The Night Porter on Blu-ray
Brevity is the Soul of Weird: Short Sharp Shocks on Blu-ray
Get Your Ass to Mars: Total Recall on Blu-ray
Call the Professionals: Le Cercle Rouge on Blu-ray
When There's No More Room in Hell: Dawn of the Dead on Blu-ray
   
 
  Escape from Alcatraz Big Break
Year: 1979
Director: Don Siegel
Stars: Clint Eastwood, Patrick McGoohan, Roberts Blossom, Jack Thibeau, Fred Ward, Paul Benjamin, Larry Hankin, Bruce M. Fischer, Frank Ronzio, Fred Stuthman, David Cryer, Madison Arnold, Blair Burrows, Bob Balhatchet
Genre: Drama, ThrillerBuy from Amazon
Rating:  7 (from 2 votes)
Review: Alcatraz was a maximum security prison on an island off the coast of San Francisco; they put all the inmates who had caused trouble in the rest of America's prisons there, because there was no chance they could escape - for one thing, the mainland was a mile away across some particularly inhospitable waters. But the minute habitual armed robber (and escapee) Frank Morris (Clint Eastwood) arrived there in early 1960, he had made up his mind he was not going to stick around. There must have been some way out.

Based on a true story, Escape from Alcatraz was the last film of the nineteen-seventies for Eastwood, a period for him which marked a golden age in his creativity, not to mention his popularity. Audiences had flocked to his movies throughout the whole of the decade, and while that celebration of a man who was fast becoming a screen icon would continue, you could argue that these were his best years, and what he owed the rest of his career to. Part of that was down to his good friend Don Siegel, the director who had kickstarted this era for Eastwood.

And appropriately, he ended the seventies with Eastwood, as this sadly was the final time they worked together, though for many fans of both, they went out on a high. It seems that just about every Hollywood tough guy has a prison movie in them, and this was Eastwood's, yet rather than show Morris as the cock of the walk while behind bars, we had to be convinced this was really no picnic for him, so from the first day he is incarcerated there he has to put up with a rapist's unwanted attentions and an arrogant talk from the Warden (Patrick McGoohan) about how he is stuck here and there will be no easy time of it.

That's right, The Prisoner, Number 6 himself, was the Warden here, an in-jokey item of casting that paid off as anyone who had seen the star's Columbo episodes knew how effective he could be as an antagonist. Here is is all too convincing as a complete bastard, and that was essential because we really needed a reason to support Morris and his fellow inmates who join him on his attempt at a prison break, so offering someone who is so cruel he would take away Roberts Blossom's painting rights when it was all the long term jailbird had, for example, was ideal to have us wishing someone would take him down a peg or two.

So here was a curious premise where these hardened criminals were the heroes, and those keeping them from society and law-abiding people were the villains, yet such was Siegel's skill that we absolutely saw things from the prisoners' point of view, even sympathising with them (wisely we do not dwell on what exactly their crimes were). There was an addition of sardonic humour, but in the main this was sober and low key, full of terse lines and suppressed desperation that built up quite some tension as Morris begins to come around to the idea that he has actually worked out a way to leave all this behind. Being based on a true story, they had to adhere to the facts even to the extent that it was filmed at the Alcatraz Prison, renovated for the purposes of the movie, so the ending was necessarily ambiguous as this was one of the biggest mysteries connected to the place, but that was no bad thing, leaving it memorable for the right reasons. It was not cheerful, but did have a grim irony about it that satisfied - plus Frank Darabont was obviously taking notes. Music by Jerry Fielding.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

This review has been viewed 3319 time(s).

As a member you could Rate this film

 

Don Siegel  (1912 - 1991)

Respected American director, a former editor, whose action thrillers were second to none. He started out in lower budget movies like The Big Steal, Riot in Cell Bock 11 and The Lineup but come the sixties he started making higher profile work such as the remake of The Killers and Madigan. His fruitful partnership with Clint Eastwood gave us Dirty Harry and Escape from Alcatraz, among others. Another of his finest 1970s films was Charley Varrick.

Siegel had small acting roles in Play Misty for Me and Philip Kaufman's Invasion of the Body Snatchers - he had directed the classic original in the 1950s.

 
Review Comments (2)


Untitled 1

Login
  Username:
 
  Password:
 
   
 
Forgotten your details? Enter email address in Username box and click Reminder. Your details will be emailed to you.
   

Latest Poll
Which star probably has psychic powers?
Laurence Fishburne
Nicolas Cage
Anya Taylor-Joy
Patrick Stewart
Sissy Spacek
Michelle Yeoh
Aubrey Plaza
Tom Cruise
Beatrice Dalle
Michael Ironside
   
 
   

Recent Visitors
Graeme Clark
  Chris Garbutt
  Sdfadf Rtfgsdf
Darren Jones
Andrew Pragasam
Stately Wayne Manor
Enoch Sneed
  Geraint Morgan
   

 

Last Updated: