» Mean Frank and Crazy Tony (1973, Italy)

Mean Frank and Crazy Tony - Tony Lo Bianco as Tony Breda and Lee Van Cleef as Frankie Diomede

This is also known as Escape from Death Row, but why, I’m not sure. For starters, there is no Death Row, and secondly, why would you even bother to seek an alternative title to Mean Frank and Crazy Tony, for goodness’ sake? Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on May 17th, 2017 at 9:33 pm. Updated on July 30th, 2017 at 1:02 pm.

» Éperdument / Down by Love (2016, France)

Down by Love - Guillaume Gallienne as Major Jean Firmino and Adèle Exarchopoulos as Anna Amari

‘Distractedly’ is the English translation of this film’s French title. How does a prison director fall for a prisoner not much more than half his age? Distractedly, derangedly, stupidly. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on May 10th, 2017 at 9:11 pm. Updated on May 10th, 2017 at 9:11 pm.

» Millionaires in Prison (1940, USA)

Millionaires in Prison - Chester Clute as Sidney Keats and Raymond Walburn as Bruce Vander.. unable to conceal their reaction to the food

How do five millionaires behave when they land in prison at the same time? “I see no reason why the Warden should object to uniforms by our own tailor,” moans Harold Kellogg (Thurston Hall), pulling at his ready-made prison uniform. “.. No style, poor material and probably even secondhand,” whines his partner-in-crime, Bruce Vander (Raymond Walburn), in total agreement. And there are plenty more jolly japes as the rich newcomers turn up their noses at the prison food and bunk beds, have to do manual labour… and mix with poor people. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on May 4th, 2017 at 10:30 pm. Updated on May 4th, 2017 at 10:30 pm.

» Chattahoochee (1989, USA)

Chattahoochee - Gary Oldman (left) as Emmet Foley

Chattahoochee. Is it a prison for mentally ill prisoners, or psychiatric hospital for the criminally insane? It’s a fine line, but if you’re looking for a prison movie, it’s the latter, I’m afraid. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on April 25th, 2017 at 5:32 pm. Updated on April 25th, 2017 at 5:32 pm.

» 3 Clear Sundays (1965, UK)

3 Clear Sundays - Tony Selby as Danny Lee

Throughout this quintessentially English television play my mind kept oddly wandering back to that string of South Korean anti-capital punishment movies - like The Executioner (2009) and Harmony (2010) - often featuring kind, reformed, elderly prisoners who present no risk to the community, but who are still destined to be executed. Danny Lee (Tony Selby) is none of those things, but more like Lee Yong-gu in Miracle in Cell No. 7 (2013); an honest, loving and devoted family man, and also a gullible simpleton, around whom this appeal to the emotions in support of the abolition of capital punishment is wrapped after he too is sentenced to death. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on April 16th, 2017 at 11:14 pm. Updated on April 18th, 2017 at 8:36 pm.

» Just Us (1986, Australia)

Just Us - Scott Burgess as Billy Carter and Catherine McClements as Jessica Taylor

The daughter of a professor, Gabrielle Carey rose to fame as a 20-year-old when her autobiographical teenage surfie-girl novel, Puberty Blues, co-written with her best friend, Kathy Lette, was published in 1979. Within a few short years Carey and Lette had fallen out and had nothing to do with each other. Lette’s life trajectory was somewhat different to Carey’s; she was later to become rich and even more famous after marrying high-flying barrister and TV personality Geoffrey Robertson QC (whom she met in 1988), while Carey’s identification with the underdog was cemented when she visited Parramatta Gaol as a reporter in June 1979 and promptly fell in love with prisoner Terry Haley. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on April 9th, 2017 at 6:13 pm. Updated on April 9th, 2017 at 6:13 pm.

» El Prisionero 13 / Prisoner 13 (1933, Mexico)

Prisoner 13 - Alfredo del Diestro as Colonel Julian Carrasco, with Adela Siguerio as his ex-wife Marta at far left

“Then I woke up, and it was all a dream.” Or, in this case, an alcoholic stupor. It’s not clear what possessed director Fernando de Fuentes to settle on such a lame contrivance with which to end this film - an irresistible regression to childhood, perhaps, or a fear (more than ten years after the Mexican Revolution had just about petered out) that the army or their political masters would still take issue with him portraying them as corrupt… Either way, it’s an irksome way for the film, reputed to be the first major Mexican movie, to conclude. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on April 4th, 2017 at 8:41 pm. Updated on April 4th, 2017 at 8:49 pm.

» Prison Shadows (1936, USA)

Prison Shadows - Eddie Nugent as Gene 'Kid' Harris, fighting in prison

I avoided this film for years, supposing that it had too little prison in it. And I was right to do so. Notwithstanding any inferences you might draw from the film’s title, the prison scenes are all over six minutes into the movie (of which fight scenes account for two, and a vaguely - and presumably unintentionally - homoerotic scene involving a boxer, his trainer and some rubbing alcohol in their cell account for another three). Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on March 25th, 2017 at 10:35 pm. Updated on March 25th, 2017 at 10:35 pm.

» 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.