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Escape From Alcatraz
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Escape From Alcatraz (DVD)
Superstar Clint Eastwood and director Don Siegal re-team for their fifth film in this fascinating account of the only three men ever to escape f rom the infamous maximum security prison at Alcatraz. In 29 years, the s eemingly impenetrable federal penitentiary, which housed Al Capone and " Birdman" Robert Stroud, was only broken once- by three men never heard o f again. Eastwood portrays Frank Morris, the cunning bank robber who mas terminded the elaborately detailed and, as far as anyone knows, ultimate ly successful, escape. Patrick McGoohan is a superb counterpoint as the suspicious warden. Filmed on location in Alcatraz, this gritty and reali stic reenactment of a true story has all the power one expects of an Eas twood/Siegel movie.]]>
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Escape From Alcatraz is probably the second best prison move, escape or otherwise, after The Shawshank Redemption. It could have actually been quite plodding and nowhere nearly as great without Eastwood's "good guy" toughie. He makes you root for the cons to escape without breaking a sweat. Though approached lightly, Patric McGoohan's constant tense portrayal of the heartless warden adds more inhumanity than is actually seen on screen becoming the bad guy outstripping the actual prison bully Wolf who is a murderer itching to add Frank Morris to his body count. I certainly have enjoyed McGoohan's penchant for creating an enigmatic and cagey charactrer from his The Prisoner British TV series, but in far less screen time he manages to give a equally brilliant edge to Alcatraz. Finally, credit must be given to director Don Siegel who Eastwood has publically said he learned everything about directing movies from. Siegel, and writer Robert Finch. wisely steered away from adding bombast allowing the real element of the utterly hopeless incareration on Alcatraz to underpin the excellent performance of the principals. This movie was stripped down to the essentials, masterfully telling a powerful story which lives on yet today as legend. Escape From Alcatraz holds up to repeated viewings as an excellent movie actually propelling the legend. Being available for Amazon Prime made it an easy recommendation which was much appreciated by this viewer. It's at my list's top of a non-western Eastwood flick without doubt.
Fun fact I learned today:
A 2015 History Channel documentary received photographs from the family of the Anglin brothers, allegedly taken around 1975, somewhere in South America. Their facial recognition experts confirm that the photo is authentic, confirming that at least the Anglins survived the escape. As of 2018, they are still considered at large.
Top international reviews
Escape From Alcatraz is true story about inmate Frank Morris, played brilliantly by Eastwood, who is mastermind escapest with a very high IQ. He is sent to The Rock, and immediately starts planning his escape. Also joining in the escape are brothers, John and Clarence Anglin. They devise a plan by slowly digging away at the vents at the back of their cells which are now damp and corroding with the salt air. The Rock had been a federal prison since 1934 and this film takes place from 1960 to 1962 when the escape takes place on June 11th. The building was completed in 1859 as used as a fort until turned into a military prison in 1907 before becoming a federal prison in 1934 but was closed in 1963 due to high maintenance costs. In 1972 the island was claimed by the National Parks and opened to the public. In 1996 Sean Connery and Nicolas Cage stormed the island to save the San Francisco bay area from being blown up by Ed Harris. OK the last part is fiction, but what a great film The Rock is.
Back to the review. But I hope you liked a bit of history of Alcatraz. Eastwood looks lean and menacing in the role of Morris but without being macho. The way the escape is slowly set up with gathering the required tools to bust out is realistic. The shower scene is good when Morris is approached by another inmate wanting to hang out the back of him. Come on man, you can't mess with Clint. Patrick McGoohan plays the warden with a slightly eccentric maner which really works.
The film was shot mostly on location at Alcatraz and you can't really tell what are sets and what is the real thing. It's that good, which contributes massively to the mood of the film. I have visited Alcatraz recently and can say 100% how authentic the film is and how the story is portrayed. There are no heroes in this film, just honest, real people who are pretty likeable despite being crims.
This film was the last time Eastwood and director Don Siegal worked together. The other films he directed with Eastwood were Coogans Bluff, Two Mules For Sister Sara, Dirty Harry and The Beguiled. Oh and Siegal is the barman in Clints directorial debut, Play Misty For Me. A great team together, who made brilliant films. Eastwoods own style also shows through in the films he has directed and has clearly been influanced by Siegals own style of film making.
Escape From Alcatraz is a film everyone should see. Spread the word and get the film more noticed. Just to finish, my top ten Clint Eastwood films, he has been in anyway are:
The Good The Bad And The Ugly.
The Outlaw Josey Wales.
Escape From Alcatraz.
Million Dollar Baby.
The Bridges Of Madison County.
Play Misty For Me.
Thunderbolt And Lightfoot.
John & Clarence Anglin, from the island prison on the rock, with a series of ingenious manoeuvres that took a year to complete, & out foxing the cruel warden, played here by "Danger Man" himself Patrick Mcgoohan who suspects anybody & anything, the film covers everthing that the trio did, including paper mache' dummy heads with hair to fool the nightime patrols.
But the question is did they survive or drown ? they were officially never seen again,
I also got the documentary DVD "Breakout from Alcatraz" for the real "true story" with rumours of a waiting boat that picked them up & whisked them to foreign climes, with sightings reported, the story is compulsive viewing & you do wish there was a happy ending for them, but you will have to make your own choice.
Great acting ,and a super supporting cast ,all add up to a fantastic movie.
Really like the prison warden ,played by the late great Patrick Macgoohan ,he of Danger Man fame.
His character is really intense .and does not trust anybody .
The interesting thing is that to this day nobody know's if they survived or died ,as they were never seen again ,both in the movie and real life.
robber 'Frank Morris'
He's sent to serve out his remaining term of imprisonment at the
infamous 'Alcatraz' penitentiary.
'Frank' has a history of escaping prison, however 'Alcatraz' has a
reputation to uphold......nobody escapes.
the film is based on factual accounts leading up to the escape.
also filmed on location at 'San Francisco's' notorious prison.
unlike many of the Blu-ray transfers of 'Clint's' movies some effort
has been made in terms of picture quality, though still some ways short of
what I believe could be achieved when the film company's have the will to do so.
What you are buying is a vanilla Region 2 DVD - and there's absolutely nothing wrong with that. The print is clean, though heavy on grain which reflects the era in which it was made, but it's a lot better than you've probably seen on the late-night BBC television slot. Good, clear mono sound. I watched this on a 40" Sony Bravia upscaled via a Sony BD-550 player and it looked fantastic.
If you don't care about extra features and like your films to look the way they've always looked, this is a great disc. At the time of writing, it can be had for about three quid.