Friday, August 5, 2011

Brute Force

At Westgate Penitentiary, the inmates live a harsh existence made even harsher by Captain Munsey, the sadistic head of the guard staff who runs the prison under the cowardly warden. In cell R17 reside a group of men, led by Joe Collins, who all committed crimes motivated by love and share a brotherly bond. When Munsey drives one of them to commit suicide, they decide it is time to follow through with their often talked about escape plans. Brute Force is a hard boiled and brooding prison film made in the noir vein by Jules Dassin, who made some very fine noir and crime films both foreign and domestic. From a screenplay by Richard Brooks (In Cold Blood) from a novel by Robert Patterson, Brute Force is an unsympathetic look at prisoner control methods, prison operations, and a daring escape movie. In one of his early staring roles, Burt Lancaster commands the screen as he always does with that quiet yet powerful manner. Stellar supporting actor Hume Cronyn is excellent as Munsey, crafting an extremely contemptible villain. The film also contains a wonderful ending, featuring the chaotic prison break. Brute Force is a dark and wonderfully directed film that manages to offer a social commentary while being a rousing entertainment as well.