Gotta feel for this due to the later emergence of <em>'<a href="https://letterboxd.com/film/the-shawshank-redemption/">The Shawshank Redemption</a>'</em> and even <em>'<a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prison_Break">Prison Break</a>'</em>, but <em>'Escape From Alcatraz'</em> still merits its own props as a great film. I love a good prison escape flick, shown by my love for those two aforementioned productions which do improve on the formula; TSR - one of my favourite films, fwiw - particularly must've took a lot of inspiration from this, I noted a fair few similarities. With the cast, you have an excellent performance from Clint Eastwood. Patrick McGoohan fits his role nicely, while Paul Benjamin and Larry Hankin are the best of the rest. I would've liked more development for the characters of Fred Ward and Jack Thibeau, who felt a little tacked on. Elsewhere, Danny Glover makes his acting debut in a tiny, tiny role. I found the pacing to be very good, sure the story I guess is obvious in terms of its direction but I still got tense and edgy whilst watching the escape take place. The ambience of the film is a positive too, with the exception of one moment early on where there's an overly on the nose lightning strike as one of the characters mentions Alcatraz - nothing major, it's a nit-pick and it's my only one so that's a big plus. Interesting to note this was the final collaboration between Eastwood and director Don Siegel, take out <em>'<a href="https://letterboxd.com/film/coogans-bluff/">Coogan's Bluff</a>'</em> and that was an extremely effective partnership - this 1979 release and <em>'<a href="https://letterboxd.com/film/two-mules-for-sister-sara/">Two Mules for Sister Sara</a>'</em> being my favourites.
Seen this one several times and still is a well done and straight forward, well shot, escape-thriller with fine performances all around. Nothing fancy and just enough character development to make you care. **4.0/5**
Clint Eastwood is at the top of his game in this thriller. He is bank robber Frank Morris, Incarcerated in one of America's most impregnable prisons, under the menacing gaze of warden Patrick McGoohan. He quickly concludes that he has little left to live for but escape. Together with twins Clarence and John Anglin (Fred Ward and Jack Thibeau) he puts together an intricate plan to escape their prison by using the utility tunnels to escape the complex then some makeshift inflatables to get across San Francisco bay. The facts of the story mean the ending is never in doubt - insofar as we actually know what the ending was/is! Now that rather detracts from any sense of jeopardy with the screenplay, but is one of the aspects that make Eastwood all the more compelling - his meticulous planning, ingenuity and sheer perspicacity is enthralling - ok, at times a little slow - to watch. He has to deal with the odd internal fracas, most notably from "Wolf" (Bruce Fisher) who would have some fun with him, if you get my drift... but none of that detracts him from his goal. Aside from this mission, Don Siegel offers us quite a detailed glimpse into life behind bars towards the end of this crumbling building's life; and we are exposed to the relentless tedium and despair of many which engenders some sympathy - however evil they may have been to be sent there in the first place. What Siegel doesn't really do, though, is use McGoohan to much effect. His usual less-is-more style of performance is certainly here, but all to infrequently to really build an sense of menace. Still, it's Eastwood's film and he is great...
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