Power Packed Picture!
Prison inmates revolt against a sadistic guard.
Prison inmates revolt against a sadistic guard.
Between the sadistic guard captain and the intense escape sequence, this could have been a great film. Unfortunately, it wastes a lot of time on cheezy backstories for several of the prisoners that all seem to suggest they all went to prison for love. It seemed like a cop out after the brutality the film presented to show these as misunderstood, romantic men who just went too far for their women.
Still, Munsey is a vicious villain. This film features some fairly gruesome moments of violence and death, and Munsey is at the root of all of them, one way or another. He's menacing, cold, and prim. He would not have been out of place in a film about Nazis.…
Great prison drama with the always amazing Burt Lancaster. Interesting to see Sam Levene as something other than a cop. And Hume Cronyn as such a cold-hearted SOB.
Here's a sentence I never thought I'd write - don't fuck with Hume Cronyn!
Admittedly, I've probably not seen all that many films with him in but my experience of him has generally been of quite gentile characters. But in Brute Force? What a bastard!
I really did enjoy this film but I think older prison films suffer perhaps as much as any genre compared to their younger counterparts. This is a genre of film that needs violence and sadism to get its point across a lot of the time and, made as it was in 1947, there was only so much that Jules Dassin could show. Yet like Don Siegel would manage several years later in Riot In Cell…
Those gates only open three times. When you come in, when you've served your time, or when you're dead!
After being blown away by Rififi I decided to check out something from Jules Dassin from his "pre-blacklist" period. Enter Brute Force, a film that more then lives up to it's name with the unlikely Hume Cronyn cast as it's heavy who shockingly proves he's up to the task of being an evil bastard.
Cronyn is Capt. Munsey, who runs the prison like a dictator with a uniform that reflects that. His opposite is prisoner Joe Collins played by Burt Lancaster, who's entire portrayal is almost just different levels of rage throughout the film as he's a desperate man that…
Jules Dassin directs the heck out of this. Hume Cronyn has never and I mean never, ever, been this good. Absolutely devious as the corrupt lead prison guard. You’d think he was the devil or perhaps had one on each shoulder whispering in his ear. At first I found myself slightly disappointed seeing Lancaster as more of supporting player. Even that may be a bit generous a description. But his commitment to the craft is there and oddly his character fits better with the story the way Dassin has him play it. Which is a testament to the directors ability of honing his vision and freeing his cast to use what their given to it’s fullest.
Brute Force is more…
Pretty lackluster how the movie shows cheap backstories to try to make bloom inside you some interest for the characters. I have to face that the concessions it tries to make about freedom, incarceration and the disinterest of society for the people inside the jails are very palpable, but are themes that, I feel, never comes together.
The escape at the end was really tight.
A solid prison movie with noir elements, Brute Force sets up an engaging battle between a vindictive prison guard (Hume Cronyn) and convict Joe Collins (Burt Lancaster). It's well-shot and well-acted, which shouldn't surprise me as it was helmed by Jules Dassin, who is fast becoming one of my favorite directors of the '40s and '50s.
Despite all its fine qualities, the movie falls just short of being a classic in my book. This is partially due to the flashback sequences. These are used to fill in the backstory of a few of our protagonists. Unfortunately, their tone at times seems out of sync with the rest of the film. In addition, I never quite fully connected with Joe Collins'…
This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.
Near the end of the film, someone shots Lancaster and he screams, and i was caught of guard. Usually when people in the forties die they do some strange dance before they fall, but here a brink of realism was shown. But this little detail wasn't the only thing great here. There is also Cronyn's sadism, and the bleak and grim picture that Dassin present that elevated him a few steps above from his contemporary colleagues in the directing apartment.
This was...extremely good! Which is a slight surprise, as I'm not a big fan of prison movies in general. They tend to lean too hard on similar tropes, make a big deal out of mawkish masculinity, and assume that the premise and ticking clock of escape is enough to keep your interest while failing to elucidate on the characters or situation in a way that feels creative, original, or emotionally impactful. But Brute Force plays with all the elements, and though it follows a lot of the typical beats, particularly for a noir film, it uses its setting, characters, and situation in the way the best noir (and prison) films do, which is to entertain you with a series of…
Great prison drama, bleak, raw and brutal, more so than you'd expect from a '40s film, Burt Lancaster leads a great cast of recognizable and solid character actors, but damn Hume Cronyn as the sadistic guard is incredible, I just saw him in Shadow of a Doubt and this is a complete 180°, he steals the show. The climax is intense and action packed, great use of a mine cart too.
"Nobody escapes. Nobody ever really escapes."
A prison noir that is as brutal as its title suggests. The last action sequence is one of the more violent set pieces I've seen in a pre-60's American film, and its implications on the film are devastating. I wish the final few lines of the film were excised, as they land with an obvious thud and almost undermine all thats come before it, but overall Brute Force is a wonderful film.
Unorthodox prison film ever there no escape or defeat. Jules Dassin implied the idea of collective revolution or overthrow the dictatorship by a emblematic prison cell. acute & bitter dialogue by Richard Brooks. Bart Lancaster naive and raw amazing to watch him.
Hume Cronyn plays the quintessential power-hungry/sadistic prison guard SOB who takes out his own issues on the prisoners, and I LOVE this casting choice. I wish Cronyn had had more opportunities to menace like this.
On the negative end of things, I didn’t love how every prisoner’s backstory painted them as an innocent or a criminal only because they were a “fool for love”— that is, literally all of them are in prison because WOMEN. K.
On a positive note, I don’t normally gravitate towards Burt Lancaster but I really enjoyed his more subtle moments here. He goes big when he has to, but it was nice to see him dialed down. Of course, I watched this for Dassin, and he does his thing and I love it (alas, though, it is no Night and the City).