» The Man Who Broke 1,000 Chains (1987, USA)

The Man Who Broke 1,000 Chains - Val Kilmer as Robert Elliot Burns

We know that this is a great, real-life story. But why the need to retell it? Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on March 11th, 2017 at 3:49 pm. Updated on March 11th, 2017 at 3:49 pm.

» Imprisoned: Survival Guide for the Rich and Prodigal (2015, Hong Kong)

Imprisoned: Survival Guide for the Rich and Prodigal - Philip Keung as Wolfy (left), Babyjohn Choi as Roach (second from right) and Gregory Wong as Nelson Yu (at right)

You might expect a range of helpful tips in a prison survival guide. In this slightly offbeat comedy-drama, it seems that there’s just one: buy your way out of trouble. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on March 6th, 2017 at 4:40 pm. Updated on March 6th, 2017 at 4:40 pm.

» Seduto alla sua destra / Black Jesus (1968, Italy)

Black Jesus - Woody Strode as Maurice Lalubi

That this follows on from my review of Strange Cargo (1940) is pure coincidence, I can assure you, but the two films’ themes are eerily similar. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on February 28th, 2017 at 8:59 pm. Updated on February 28th, 2017 at 8:59 pm.

» Strange Cargo (1940, USA)

Strange Cargo - Ian Hunter as Cambreau (seated), Clark Gable as Verne and Paul Lukas as Hessler

Aah! The delight of two movies in one… tempered only by one of them being rather drawn out, and the other a little weird. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on February 14th, 2017 at 9:10 pm. Updated on February 28th, 2017 at 7:31 pm.

» Hell’s Kitchen (1939, USA)

Hell's Kitchen - Grant Mitchell as the nasty Superintendent Hiram Krispan

I’ve been dudded, I’m afraid. Nearly all the internet synopses of this film say things like, “a paroled ex-con tries to go straight and reform a brutal reform school, only to face a frame-up courtesy of the school’s corrupt warden.” But it’s not a reform school at all, but a place to which boys from reform school are paroled (and the ‘paroled ex-con’ is not on parole, and the frame-up is not chiefly the warden’s doing). Anyway, this has the dubious honour of having absolutely no prison in it at all, although when the uniformed guards use their batons against the residents, it does seem a little like a juvenile jail. Oh well.

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on February 4th, 2017 at 3:43 pm. Updated on February 4th, 2017 at 3:43 pm.

» Grosse bêtise / Breakin’ Out (2001, France)

Breakin' Out - Isabelle Habiaque as Laetitia Guerin and Erwan Demaure as her son, Nicolas

The title of a film can obviously influence the lens through which you watch it. Breakin’ Out, the title chosen for this TV movie’s American release, conjures up a dramatic jailbreak: all action and tense anticipation. Its original French title, Grosse bêtise, translates as ‘gross stupidity’ and conveys a different message altogether. And the right one, in this case. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on January 28th, 2017 at 9:00 pm. Updated on January 28th, 2017 at 9:00 pm.

» Passport to Terror (1989, USA)

Passport to Terror - Lee Remick as Gene LePere

Also known as Dark Holiday, this film about an American woman in a Turkish prison invites inevitable comparisons with Midnight Express (1978). But it being about an American held in a Turkish prison is where the similarities begin and end. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on January 22nd, 2017 at 2:41 pm. Updated on January 22nd, 2017 at 2:41 pm.

» Clash by Night (1964, UK)

Clash by Night - Peter Sallas as Victor Lush, Robert Brown as Officer Mawsley, Alan Wheatley as Ronald Grey-Simmons, and Richard Carpenter as Officer Danny Watts

Clash by Night is not exactly a prison movie, but it is all about prisoners and Prison Officers. So it’s prisonny. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on January 7th, 2017 at 9:34 pm. Updated on January 7th, 2017 at 9:34 pm.

» A Violent Prosecutor (2016, South Korea)

A Violent Prosecutor - Jeong-min Hwang as prosecutor Byun Jae-wook

How many TV shows and movies have featured unorthodox police investigators being told to drop a case, yet the detective obstinately stays involved in spite of their superior’s instructions? That’s what happens here… but the investigator finishes up getting framed for the suspect’s murder. Which is perhaps not quite so orthodox. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on January 1st, 2017 at 9:52 am. Updated on January 1st, 2017 at 9:52 am.

» Fortress 2: Re-Entry (2000, USA)

Fortress 2 - Christopher Lambert as John Brennick with a touch of sunburn while in 'The Hole'

Who could forget the original Fortress (1992) and its magnificent intestinator? There’s nothing in this sequel to match it, sadly, although each prisoner does receive a new behaviour-modifying neural implant that also expropriates the optic nerve and allows ZED, the prison’s all-knowing computer, to relay each prisoner’s vision onto staff-monitored screens. Which is sort of handy. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on December 27th, 2016 at 7:31 pm. Updated on January 1st, 2017 at 9:01 am.