The Cell Mate

» Jail Busters (1955, USA)

“Without the elephant of a doubt” (to quote ‘Slip’ Mahoney), this 39th Bowery Boys comedy is a better prison movie than their 19th [Triple Trouble (1950)]. I’m just not sure that says a great deal. (more…)

Posted on June 20th, 2020 at 1:49 pm. Updated on August 2nd, 2020 at 10:50 pm.

» The Outer Gate (1937, USA)

I dug this melodrama out of my stellar ‘Prison Break Classics’ collection and made three unhappy discoveries: it doesn’t involve a prison break, there’s a much better print of it on YouTube, and while it was known for a while as Behind Prison Bars, very little action takes place in prison. Oh well. (more…)

Posted on May 27th, 2020 at 12:55 pm. Updated on May 27th, 2020 at 12:55 pm.

» El hoyo / The Platform (2019, Spain)

There are few prison movies as patently and transparently allegorical as this. In fact, I can’t bring another to mind that comes close. And it’s almost as hard to think of a movie prison that shares fewer features with prisons as we know them; but an intriguing prison it is. (more…)

Posted on May 11th, 2020 at 10:31 pm. Updated on May 11th, 2020 at 10:42 pm.

» Autsajder (2018, Poland)

Set against the backdrop of the growing Solidarity movement in the early 1980s, this film tells a simple story: an autsajder (outsider) inside. (more…)

Posted on October 1st, 2019 at 9:59 pm. Updated on October 1st, 2019 at 9:59 pm.

» P Storm (2019, Hong Kong / China)

The fourth movie in the Storm franchise [following on from Z Storm (2014), S Storm (2016), L Storm (2018), from which I have been successfully sheltered in each case, and not counting the yet-to-be-released G Storm], this again features William Luk Chi Lim (Louis Koo) as a super-committed investigator from Hong Kong’s Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC).  (more…)

Posted on August 27th, 2019 at 9:57 pm. Updated on August 27th, 2019 at 10:10 pm.

» Locked Up (2017, USA)

With a bit more imagination this could be a much better film… and still be pretty awful. (more…)

Posted on July 14th, 2019 at 1:11 pm. Updated on July 14th, 2019 at 1:15 pm.

» Papillon (2017, USA and others)

Papillon - Rami Malek as Louis Dega and Charlie Hunnam as Henri 'Papillon' Charrière

I’m afraid I wasn’t a big fan of the first filmed version of Henri Charrière’s life story, Papillon (1973), starring Steve McQueen and Dustin Hoffman. I thought it tedious, and a disappointing retelling of the boisterous, if largely fanciful, written account. And I’m not all that keen to go back and revisit it to see if that judgment was a little harsh, having just watched the remake… which I think is an improvement.

(more…)

Posted on December 8th, 2018 at 8:38 pm. Updated on December 8th, 2018 at 8:46 pm.

» The Condemned (1976, Hong Kong)

The Condemned - Hung Tsai as Feng Da-Gang

I’d very much like to say that there was an interesting subtext to this movie; the contamination in prison of non-violent men placed with violent offenders, perhaps. But, no, this is a straightforward good guys v. bad guys story; a revenge story. With lots of fighting. Lots. But none in prison. (more…)

Posted on October 15th, 2018 at 8:33 pm. Updated on June 15th, 2019 at 12:48 pm.

» Hard Justice (1995, USA)

Hard Justice - Jim Maniaci as Mr Clean holding up David Bradley as Nick Adams, with Alon Stivi as the guard Riggs with his PR24 ('The Ugly Stick')

Back in October 2017 Alex Greenwood wrote to me to see if I could identify a movie from a grainy still he had found on the internet of a bald guy in prison fight scene. Being notoriously poor at such things (and, it turns out, not having seen the movie, or even heard of it), I was unable to assist. But Alex persisted, and persisted… and found it himself. And this is it, fighting bald guy and more.

(more…)

Posted on October 6th, 2018 at 5:34 pm. Updated on October 6th, 2018 at 5:34 pm.

» Gulag (1985, USA)

Galag - David Keith as Mickey Almon and Malcolm McDowell as 'The Englishman' Kenneth Barrington

I’ve seen a surprising number of people (OK, four, maybe) write in to movie sites asking for the name of the prison movie where an innocent American man escapes a Russian prison in a secret compartment in a truck or a train. I’m nor sure why it’s quite so forgettable or, if it is, why people later want to retrieve its name. This is the film; it’s called Gulag, and it’s a train, not a truck. (more…)

Posted on January 22nd, 2018 at 8:45 pm. Updated on January 22nd, 2018 at 8:45 pm.