» 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’. Read the rest of this entry »

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

» Brothers (1977, USA)

This is a ‘thinly disguised’ account of the prison life of Soledad Brother George Jackson, part of which takes in his romance with activist Angela Davis. It’s an unheralded ’70s prison movie that deserves more heralding, even if it loses a bit of momentum once prisoner and professor meet and start cheesily narrating their letters to each other accompanied by a laid-back R&B soundtrack. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on December 27th, 2020 at 3:29 pm. Updated on December 27th, 2020 at 3:29 pm.

» Fun and Games (1971, UK)

“Really, Angela, I don’t like to say this, but I think you’re a bit mixed up,” says the housekeeper to the prison Governor’s nymphet daughter, after relatively little exposure to the girl’s troubling and wanton behaviour. “Me? Oh, I wouldn’t say that, Mrs Jackson. I may be a little psychotic, a schizophrenic with undertones of paranoia, a nymphomaniac with irresistible bisexual tendencies… I can tune in AC or DC. I have alternate sadistic and masochistic impulses. I am also an inveterate exhibitionist, and shall probably die of sexual malnutrition before I’m 20, but… apart from that, I’m not in the least mixed up.” It could be that the only interest in this awful film may be to see which of those diagnoses is borne out; not too many are. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on November 29th, 2020 at 10:57 pm. Updated on November 29th, 2020 at 10:57 pm.

» Le droit d’aimer (1972, France / Italy)

This is the story of a political prisoner and his devoted partner. And of her strength, when she was certain that he was the stronger one. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on November 16th, 2020 at 10:34 pm. Updated on November 16th, 2020 at 10:42 pm.

» They All Come Out (1939, USA)

I’m all for prison movies, and other media, spruiking the good things that prisons do, and not just wallowing in the damage they cause and the mayhem that is created within them. But this film should come with a warning about it being a paid advertisement for the Federal Bureau of Prisons. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on November 3rd, 2020 at 9:43 am. Updated on November 3rd, 2020 at 9:43 am.

» Incoming (2018, USA / Serbia)

So… In a rare show of unity, all the world powers agree on imprisoning and torturing six men suspected of being members of the terrorist group Wolf Pack, which has claimed responsibility for the bombings of Big Ben, the Colosseum, and the Taj Mahal, just to name a few. It’s agreed that they will be detained in a top secret black site, in order that they might be interrogated to give up the name and the whereabouts of their leader. Rather than find some non-partisan and accessible part of the world in which to locate their prison, they set it up on a space station and leave one erratic British man, on his own, in charge of, well… everything. Makes perfect sense. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on October 30th, 2020 at 10:49 pm. Updated on October 30th, 2020 at 10:49 pm.

» One Way Ticket (1997, Australia)

I think it must have been 1997 when I first saw this… after which, for some reason, I forgot about it entirely. On rewatching it I was reminded, in part, of Heartlock (2018) – another excellent and more recent tutorial in ‘downing a duck’ (corrupting an officer) – and of my recent comments about the relative lack of tension in real-life escape re-enactment movies like Escape from Pretoria (2020), where the outcome is very much known. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on October 10th, 2020 at 4:27 pm. Updated on October 10th, 2020 at 4:27 pm.

» Velikiy uteshitel / The Great Consoler (1933, USSR)

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.

» A cavallo della tigre / Riding the Tiger (2002, Italy)

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 (1956, USA)

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.