This is not a film to watch during a pandemic. Much of the action takes place in a shared cell, in which one of the prisoners is coughing and spluttering and dying from tuberculosis. No-one is wearing a mask, no-one practises social distancing (although the cell is admittedly very roomy), the prison is not locked down, and a major outbreak looms. But there are other, (intended) horrors which make this an interesting early talkie. Read the rest of this entry »
Posted on September 27th, 2020 at 10:58 pm. Updated on September 27th, 2020 at 10:58 pm.
I understand, to a degree, the attraction of updating this classic. There are quite a few departures from the original, so it’s not an exact remake, but I can’t think of one of those changes that would amount to an improvement on A cavallo della tigre (1961). Other, perhaps, than this being in colour. Read the rest of this entry »
Posted on September 12th, 2020 at 8:09 pm. Updated on September 12th, 2020 at 8:18 pm.
Swamp Women starts with the extraordinary premise that a prison warden would cooperate with a police request to allow three high-profile inmates to escape from their prison in order to help the police recover a cache of stolen diamonds. It’s a murky start and just gets murkier. Read the rest of this entry »
Posted on September 5th, 2020 at 2:36 pm. Updated on September 5th, 2020 at 2:36 pm.
“I don’t want to get to be you and stagnate and finish here… I don’t want to grow old living in here,” says prison novice Martine Fresienne (Martine Brochard) to her cellmates. What her pronouncement lacks in diplomacy, it makes up for in wackiness. Read the rest of this entry »
Posted on August 30th, 2020 at 7:39 pm. Updated on August 30th, 2020 at 7:39 pm.
To say that I’m more interested in what prison movies say about the prison experience than cinematic techniques, or the development of film as a medium, is, well… stating the bloody obvious. That probably makes it harder for silent movies, like this one, to make an impression… unless its intertitles are simply exceptional. Read the rest of this entry »
Posted on August 22nd, 2020 at 2:12 pm. Updated on August 22nd, 2020 at 2:12 pm.
At last! A prison movie that knows its plaice! Read the rest of this entry »
Posted on August 19th, 2020 at 10:20 pm. Updated on August 19th, 2020 at 10:20 pm.
One feature of the Australian quasi-biopic, Chopper (2000), is the (real-life) ‘Overcoat Gang’ – so named because its prisoner members wore big overcoats, even in summer, in which they would conceal shivs, iron bars and other weapons, or at least give the impression to their enemies that they were tooled up, even when unarmed. Overcoats kept coming to mind as I watched this very different type of movie. Read the rest of this entry »
Posted on August 15th, 2020 at 1:55 pm. Updated on August 15th, 2020 at 1:55 pm.
If it weren’t for the fact that the dead body doesn’t materialise until the 34th minute of this 60-minute movie, this could be a classic whodunnit – there’s a cop prone to overstepping the mark and barking up the wrong tree, a brash investigative reporter cast in the Miss Marple role, the requisite number of shifty-looking suspects, and plenty of red herrings. Mind you, I can’t remember Miss Marple ever having a love interest. Read the rest of this entry »
Posted on August 8th, 2020 at 11:46 am. Updated on August 8th, 2020 at 11:46 am.
The difficulty with an escape movie based on a real-life escape is that you know the outcome even before the action starts. Whatever suspense that might be built into the story – the risks taken, the panicky times when they are nearly discovered, the obstacles that threaten the plot’s success – you know will amount to nothing. Come to think of it, that applies to virtually every escape movie, true or otherwise. Every action movie, in fact. Read the rest of this entry »
Posted on August 1st, 2020 at 8:49 pm. Updated on August 1st, 2020 at 8:49 pm.
This is much more a newspaper office movie, or a cub reporter movie, than a prison movie, even though it centres on a prison murder. It was made around the time that the US entered World War II, but you wouldn’t know it. Two killers are on Death Row, waiting to go to the electric chair, and it’s their story that captures all the headlines. Read the rest of this entry »
Posted on July 25th, 2020 at 4:56 pm. Updated on July 25th, 2020 at 4:56 pm.