Brute Force ★★★★½

Those gates only open three times. When you come in, when you've served your time, or when you're dead!
-Gallagher

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 needs to get out of prison for the sake of a loved one.

The brutality of prison life comes through as the men live life according to unwritten rules, and when you break them justice comes swiftly and unmercifully from the other prisoners. There are two snitches in particular that find this out in brutal fashion. A modern film might be more graphic, but the violence would have a hard time being more ruthless then this.

Cronyn and Lancaster are fantastic here, and the atmosphere of desperation is present within the opening moments. The rest of the cast is fantastic too while the film makes great use of flashbacks without breaking the pacing of the film. Has easily jumped into my list of greatest prison films ever made.

Part of:
Noirvember 2014

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