The Welcome Speech

» The Haunting of Alcatraz (2020, UK)

It’s a huge shame when you set your film in Alcatraz in the 1930s and 40s, only to find that sending your long-haired, bearded actor to the barbershop will blow the entire production budget of £57.99. (more…)

Posted on March 15th, 2021 at 8:18 pm. Updated on March 15th, 2021 at 8:18 pm.

» Girls of the Big House (1945, USA)

Up until this film, ‘Big House’ had always conveyed the notion of a ‘penitentiary’ to me. I now know that ‘Big House’ can also mean ‘big house’. (more…)

Posted on January 11th, 2021 at 10:10 pm. Updated on January 11th, 2021 at 10:10 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.

» Alcatraz: The Whole Shocking Story (1980, USA)

So, the whole shocking story of Alcatraz’s 29-year life as a Federal Penitentiary comes down to just two incidents, does it – the May 1946 failed escape attempt known as the ‘Battle of Alcatraz’, and the June 1962 escape bid that may or may not have been successful? Oh, and a bit of filler in-between about Clarence Carnes and Robert Stroud. Nothing else, it seems, was shocking, or part of the whole Alcatraz story. (more…)

Posted on March 7th, 2020 at 8:14 pm. Updated on March 7th, 2020 at 8:14 pm.

» Alcatraz (2018, UK / USA)

This latest Alcatraz film is ‘inspired by real events’. It is low budget and low on authenticity. It is also, sadly, at the low end of the interest scale. (more…)

Posted on February 24th, 2020 at 6:49 pm. Updated on February 24th, 2020 at 6:49 pm.

» Stars and Roses (1989, Hong Kong)

Q: How many films are there of first world citizens being held in prison in foreign states that have different political systems, different standards of living, or different concepts of what is reasonable treatment of its prisoners? A: Quite a few. And you can add this one to the list. (more…)

Posted on December 30th, 2019 at 8:23 pm. Updated on January 19th, 2020 at 9:07 pm.

» Ambush at Dark Canyon (2012, USA)

Wild gunslingin’ west meets duck soup prison escape. It’s an odd recipe.  (more…)

Posted on November 2nd, 2019 at 1:38 pm. Updated on November 2nd, 2019 at 1:38 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.

» The Meanest Man in Texas (2017, USA)

It’s an extraordinary story, this one: based on the real-life story of Clyde Thompson who collected three life sentences, found God in jail, and became a prison chaplain after his release. Maybe because it’s sympathetic to him from the outset, maybe because it is so mindful of its likely audience that the portrayal of his pre-redemption ugliness is never too graphic, or maybe because Clyde never looks anything but boyish – but the message of his transformation is not as powerful as you might imagine; preaching to the converted has its downside. (more…)

Posted on August 5th, 2019 at 9:05 pm. Updated on August 5th, 2019 at 9:05 pm.