Mr Big

» La nuit des rois / Night of the Kings (2020, Ivory Coast / Canada / France / Senegal)

Although this is very much set in present day Ivory Coast, it has the form of an Elizabethan drama, augmented by a Greek chorus; a cultural and temporal potpourri. It might not work magnificently, but magnificently, it works. (more…)

Posted on August 24th, 2021 at 8:14 pm. Updated on August 24th, 2021 at 8:14 pm.

» 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.

» Convict (2014, Egypt)

If it helps avoid confusion with the disappointing Australian film also named Convict (and also released in 2014), Google suggests that the Arabic title for this film – currently available on Netflix – translates as ‘What are you, prisons?’. That might not help much, but it’s a fair question. (more…)

Posted on April 12th, 2020 at 2:17 pm. Updated on April 12th, 2020 at 2:17 pm.

» Escape (1980, USA)

Several years ago I copped some mild abuse after suggesting that Billy Hayes, the hero of Midnight Express (1978) – a film that shares more than a few things in common with this one – might have got off lightly by escaping so soon into his sentence for smuggling a large quantity of hashish. It’s the same moral dilemma here; addict Dwight Worker (Timothy Bottoms) is caught smuggling cocaine at Mexico City’s airport in 1973, and yet two years into a seven-year sentence we catch ourselves cheering him on in his audacious bid to escape from the notorious Lecumberri Prison. Both films retell true life stories. (more…)

Posted on November 17th, 2019 at 8:27 pm. Updated on November 17th, 2019 at 8:27 pm.

» Heartlock (2018, USA)

Heartlock - Lesley-Ann Brandt as Tera Sharpe and Alexander Dreymon as Lee Haze

Downing a Duck‘, one prisoner’s written account of how to cultivate and manipulate a correctional officer to breach prison security, has seemingly been used worldwide as a training tool for new officers. Heartlock is pretty much its filmic equivalent. (more…)

Posted on February 9th, 2019 at 3:31 pm. Updated on June 13th, 2019 at 3:32 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.


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

» Kind Hearts and Coronets (1949, UK)

Kind Hearts and Coronets - Dennis Price as Louis D'Ascoyne Mazzini

This doesn’t seem to be on anybody’s prison movies lists. And nor, I suspect, should it be. But I was keen to have a look at it nonetheless, as it’s topped and tailed by prison scenes and the whole story is told by a condemned man due to be hanged the next morning. (more…)

Posted on July 3rd, 2018 at 10:05 pm. Updated on July 3rd, 2018 at 10:05 pm.

» The Prison (2017, South Korea)

The Prison - Han Suk-Kyu as Jung Ik-ho (front), with (at left) Kim Rae-won as Song Yu-gon and (at right) Jo Jae-yoon as Hong-pyo

There is much that is familiar in The Prison. It owes a good deal to The Guys from Paradise (2000) and On the Job (2013) – both films about prisoners sneaking out of prison to commit major crimes, and then sneaking back in with perfect alibis – yet it somehow manages to be very much its own film. It features a cop and a kingpin. And copious amounts of corruption. (more…)

Posted on September 5th, 2017 at 10:18 pm. Updated on September 5th, 2017 at 10:18 pm.

» 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? (more…)

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

» O Simdi Mahkum / In the Jail Now (2005, Turkey)

O ?imdi Mahkum - Burhan Öçal as Numan Kolsuz holds a knife to the throat of Levent Kazak (as himself). Gökhan Özo?uz (as himself) is at top right.

Most prison comedies don’t work. This one does. It features an unexpected, slow descent into farce; it’s clever, and it’s black. It’s not entirely novel – it’s a variation on the theme of Two Way Stretch (1960) – a criminal breaking out of prison to do no good, only to break back in and give himself the perfect alibi – but is refreshingly different.


Posted on November 5th, 2016 at 8:20 pm. Updated on June 16th, 2019 at 10:05 pm.