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Escape From Alcatraz (1979)

Clint Eastwood , Patrick McGoohan , Don Siegel  |  PG |  DVD
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (246 customer reviews)

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Product Details

  • Actors: Clint Eastwood, Patrick McGoohan, Roberts Blossom, Jack Thibeau, Fred Ward
  • Directors: Don Siegel
  • Writers: J. Campbell Bruce, Richard Tuggle
  • Producers: Don Siegel, Fritz Manes, Robert Daley
  • Format: Closed-captioned, Color, Dolby, Letterboxed, Widescreen, NTSC
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 1.0), French (Dolby Digital 1.0)
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: PG (Parental Guidance Suggested)
  • Studio: Paramount
  • DVD Release Date: March 9, 1999
  • Run Time: 112 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (246 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: 630531036X
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #122,719 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Escape From Alcatraz" on IMDb

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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Filmed on location on Alcatraz Island, this is an account of the only three men ever to escape from this maximum security prison.
Genre: Feature Film-Action/Adventure
Rating: PG
Release Date: 28-MAR-2006
Media Type: DVD

One of Clint Eastwood's two most important filmmaking mentors was Don Siegel (the other was Sergio Leone), who directed Eastwood in Dirty Harry, Coogan's Bluff, Two Mules for Sister Sara, and this enigmatic, 1979 drama based on a true story about an escape from the island prison of Alcatraz. Eastwood plays a new convict who enters into a kind of mind game with the chilly warden (Patrick McGoohan) and organizes a break leading into the treacherous waters off San Francisco. As jailbird movies go, this isn't just a grotty, unpleasant experience but a character-driven work with some haunting twists. --Tom Keogh

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
24 of 25 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Eastwood gives his best screen acting to date... December 27, 2006
In the 29 years of Alcatraz's existence, and despite the strict measures, 39 captives tried to escape from America's premier maximum-security prison during its existence... Thirty six of whom failed... This script is about the other three, of whom nothing is known... They may have drowned in San Francisco Bay, or they may have got away...

Morris (Clint Eastwood) was a loner, a rebel against society, the perfect hero that Siegel loves... Lee Marvin in 'The Killers', Steve McQueen in 'Hell is for Heroes', and Richard Widmark in 'Madigan' were all similar types in films which he had directed..

In 'Escape From Alcatraz,' Eastwood gives his best screen acting to date... It is a charismatic performance that is so idiosyncratic, persuasive, and powerful... Eastwood, gave Morris the rough, intelligent aspect that is immediately palpable...

The first few minutes of the film consist of Morris being brought by boat to Alcatraz, inspected by a doctor and thrown into a cell... Throughout this, Eastwood does not speak... But already the audience feels it... They know the character... He has been through this before... He tries to control his mind... He builds a barrier between himself and his surroundings... He holds back his fear but he's not so foolish as to appear brave... Behind his impassivity, his mind is calculating... He is studying everyone... Everyone knows, prison guards and fellow prisoners alike, that this is not a man to be intimidated with easily...

But Siegel wasn't making a film about penal cruelty or miscarriage of justice or anything like that... He was presenting a meditative study of the inflexibility of human spirit, with a star strong enough in himself to join one sequence to the next...
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30 of 35 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Amazon reviewers agree -- a great film. February 21, 2004
Format:VHS Tape
Seldom do reviewers agree on ratings for films they watch, but for this one, the vote is in and it is unanimous. Escape from Alcatraz is a winner.
Director Don Siegel is pitch perfect from beginning to end. Many reviewers who have been to Alcatraz comment on the realism of this film. Siegel gives us an inside look at what it might have been like to be imprisoned on "the rock." From the black hole of solitary confinement to the painfully small individual cells of the prisoners, Alcatraz was a nasty place meant for only the nastiest criminals.
One of these prisoners is Frank Morris, expertly played by Clint Eastwood, who is transferred to Alcatraz, gets into a fight with an inmate who wants to make him his "punk," and spends time in the black hole. When he gets out of solitary, Morris begins to plan his escape. Several reviewers comment on the fact that Hollywood does not get these facts straight, but I didn't much care. I was pulled very quickly into Morris's plans and then the actual mechanics of the breakout, which were genuinely interesting and toward the end, had me sitting at the edge of my chair as I waited with suspense to see how the story would end.
The escape is obviously central to the entire plot, but the life of prisoners at Alcatraz is also dramatized expertly by Don Siegel. The warden, Patrick McGoohan, is aloof and professional, but he has a mean streak, which makes life harder than it needs to be on the rock. Frank Morris is smart enough not to get mad, but to get even, and this he does with three other inmates who assist him in the breakout. The warden and his guards are constanly on the alert for any suspicious behavior and we hold our breath from time to time as the escape plan is almost detected.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Eastwood and Siegel's Last Collaboration March 3, 2006
Clint Eastwood and director Don Siegel were sympatico in terms of taut, economic filmmaking. "Escape From Alcatraz" (1979) remains a standout in their careers. It's a gritty, atmospheric prison drama that demands repeated viewings. Eastwood delivers one of his finest performances as convict Frank Morris - perfectly matched by Patrick McGoohan as the sadistic warden. Highly recommended.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent! Alcatraz fans must have! May 20, 2005
This is not a documentary, but I would say it is fairly accurate portrayal of events surrounding the life of Frank Morris at Alcatraz, at least a far as anyone could know.

Yes, it's a bit slow, but remember these men were locked up in their individual cells 16 to 23 hours a day (depending upon whether they had a prison job or not) -- not a lot happens in a average day.

The film concludes emphasizing that Frank and the Anglin brothers were never caught, and their bodies never found, and notes the warden's quick declaration that they drowned. The movie, in my interpretation, implies that the escape must have been successful.

However, it is far more likely that they drowned. The plan was for the men to swim to Marin County via Angel Island, break into a clothing store in Tiburon to change out of their prison clothes, and steal a car to get out of the area. No such crimes were committed in the days or weeks following the escape. Furthermore, the Morris and Anglin families were never contacted by the escapees, something that would seem likely in the weeks, months, or years since.

Another interesting fact is that a man (Seymour Webb) committed suicide, in front of numerous witnesses, off the Golden Gate Bridge on the very night of the escape and during the same window of time -- his body was never found either, despite very quick attempts by the Coast Guard to rescue him. (The tidal currents can be very strong in San Francisco Bay.)

There has been at least one Alcatraz escapee (Floyd Hamilton) who was declared drowned but found alive two days after his escape when he returned to the prison (starving and cold) after hiding in a cave along the shore.

Attention Directors and Producers: There's plenty more true historical Alcatraz material for a new version of this movie or on other Alcatraz subjects!

Alcatraz fans should see: [...]
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