Saturday, March 29, 2014

Escape From Alcatraz (1979)

Clint Eastwood Movie #9

Synopsis: It’s like the mirror-image of Where Eagles Dare:  Clint Eastwood spends his time and energy trying to break out of an impregnable fortress – and he never kills anyone.

Blurb From the VHS Jacket: “Superstar Clint Eastwood and director Don Siegel re-team for their fifth film in this fascinating account of the only three men ever to escape from the infamous maximum security prison at Alcatraz.”

What Did I Learn?: Prison employees are sadistic, arbitrary and capricious bastards, while convicts are warm, sensitive and caring individuals.

You Might Like This Movie If: you're in the mood to watch a great escape.

Really?: 1) Apparently, you can weld pieces of metal together with a handful of wooden matches. [I’m going to feel like an idiot if that is in fact the truth]. 2) Escape From Alcatraz is based upon a true story, so it’s hard to determine what’s real and what isn’t. I will say that the escape is awfully well-timed, considering the Warden wants to move Morris (Eastwood) to another cell, and Morris’ old buddy Wolf is suddenly out of solitary. 3) Hmm... the VHS jacket mentions that Morris was a bank robber, but that’s never brought up during the film. Come to think of it, aside from English, we never hear anyone’s pre-prison story. I think that’s a bit of an omission.

Rating: Escape From Alcatraz works as both a taut, edge-of-your-seat thriller, and as a look at life in the legendary prison just before it was shut down in the early 1960s. The film is pretty depressing until Morris and his crew start to work on their liberation plans, and then the tone changes considerably. Kudos to Patrick McGoohan for an impressive portrayal of the evil warden. 7.5/10 stars.

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