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.
‘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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
It surely can’t be coincidental that in 2015 we had the release of two prison movies in which a cop whose wife has been killed by a big-time criminal commits a major offence to get into prison to avenge his wife’s murder; the other being Vendetta. Perhaps the same story was pitched to several film-makers, and these two just happened to pick it up… unaware that the other had, too. Anyway, I’m not sure which I like better.. but this certainly wins in the novelty stakes.
Posted on April 19th, 2016 at 9:49 pm. Updated on April 19th, 2016 at 9:52 pm.
I think it was when Warden Harold Bauman (Ron Lacey), in dismissing any idea of his prisoners putting on an artistic performance, said, “They’re not here to have fun. They’re here to be miserable,” that my wife asked, “Don’t you get sick of the same, same things all the time?”. Or it could have been earlier, such as at the arrival of the prisoner who doesn’t deserve to be in prison, or the tough prisoner running the show, or the ineffectual warden and his corrupt second-in-charge, or the earnest counsellor pushing for reform… It could have been at any point in the film, really. (more…)
Posted on November 22nd, 2015 at 5:10 pm. Updated on November 22nd, 2015 at 5:12 pm.
Not the TV series, exactly, but what was (until they announced a new season to run in 2016) the final feature-length Prison Break episode, which is supposed to stand on its own and be like a condensed fifth season. It’s a little tricky for me; I watched the first series, enjoyed it, but immediately lost interest once it went into a second, third and fourth season. There are consequently a few gaps in my understanding of what happened in-between, which Mr Google has since been kind enough to attempt to fill. (more…)
Posted on October 18th, 2015 at 3:41 pm. Updated on October 18th, 2015 at 3:48 pm.