Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Movie Vault Review: Escape From Alcatraz [1979]

Year Of Release: 1979
Directed By: Don Siegel
Written By: Richard Tuggle, J. Campbell Bruce
Starring: Clint Eastwood, Patrick McGoohan, Roberts Blossom, Paul Benjamin, Larry Hankin, Frank Ward, Jack Thibeau
Duration: 112 minutes
In A Nutshell:
Based on true events, Escape From Alcatraz tells the story of Frank Morris (played by Clint Eastwood) who is sent to the notorious prison, Alcatraz. It is said that no one can escape from here. Morris carefully plots his escape with the help of a few fellow inmates, Charley Butts (played by Larry Hankin) and the Anglin Brothers (played by Frank Ward and Jack Thibeau)
Thumbs Up:
+ As one would expect from a prison movie, there are plenty interesting characters and personalities
+ Nice slow-building tempo which is suitable for these types of movies
Thumbs Down:
- Lacking any real antagonist for the audience to hate (I considered using the word "Villain", but this is a prison, all these criminals are villains)
- The actual prison brake is pretty straight-forward and lacks excitement
Selected Quote:
"Ten years ago, I was in this bar in Alabama when two dudes started hassling me. That was their first mistake. They pulled knives. That was their second mistake. They didn't know how to use them. That was the last mistake they ever made. I got two 99-years sentences. Back-to-back"

The Verdict Is In:
I love prison movies. Not only does it gives us an insight on life in confinement, but you can guarantee that the characters and personalities involved are all interesting and unique. You won't find boring and two-dimensional characters in these types of films. There is very little action to be found in Escape From Alcatraz. There are no major fights for example and in fact there are very little dialogues too. But this isn't necessarily a bad thing. We are able to focus on the characters' emotions and expressions  which play a large part of the storytelling. Clint Eastwood and the rest of the cast succeed very well in portraying those emotions to keep us engaged.

The downside of the movie is that despite its title, the story of the actual prison escape is rather tame especially compared to other films. But then again it is of course based on true events. It is still a pretty solid movie however. It actually gives me the idea to create a "Favourite Prison Movies" list. Expect to see it on this blog in the near future then.
7 out of 10


  1. Definitely do a list of best prison movies, I'd love to see that. After I try writing an article about sports films, I was going to do one on prison movies so your list will be a very interesting read!

  2. Thanks Pete. Need some re-watching to do first.


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