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Escape From Alcatraz
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  • Amazon reviewers agree -- a great film.
    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.

    At last the time comes and we go step by step with Morris and two of his crew as they head for the icy waters surrounding Alcatraz. The fourth member of the crew hesitated and was left behind. This appears to follow the real-life events as mentioned by other reviewers.

    Did Morris and his buddies successfully navigate the treacherous waters surrounding Alcatraz? I'll leave that question unanswered. Viewers can decide for themselves.

    What is certain, at least to the reviewers of, is that Escape from Alcatraz is a well-made, highly suspenseful film from beginning to end, and it is one of Clint Eastwood's best roles -- that's saying something. Highly recommended!...more info

  • questionable altogether
    first things first--escape from alcatraz is for prison film completists only, and is worth watching only for the performances of clint eastwood and patrick mcgoohan. it's pretty much a snoozefest, though fans of either actor will definitely enjoy it, as they're both showing off their acting chops in this one. still, the process of scraping holes in a wall does not for exciting cinema make.

    second--i have no idea what the reviewer below is talking about with regards to mr. mcgoohan's personal life. it's a hurtful and ridiculous accusation to begin with, one that i've never heard before in any interview, trade; or coming from any source; and at any rate, it has absolutely nothing to do with an actor's skills or their ability to be a great performer.

    in fact, i've never even heard of this idiotic rumor in a tabloid. perhaps the reviewer below needs to get his facts straight before talking trash about a great actor like mr. mcgoohan, who is undoubtedly one of the most underrated performers out there, but still one of the best....more info

  • For accuracy......
    The movie is pretty slow, but is very accurate. I rented it before heading to San Francisco on a tour of Alcatraz. Just my luck, when I arrived, the youngest guard ever to work on the island was there promoting his book. He stated that "Escape from Alcatraz" is the most accurate account out of any movie out there. "Murder in the First" is more interesting and moves faster, but that is because they change almost the whole story around. If you want an accurate account of life on Alcatraz, rent this movie....more info
  • Pretty Darn Good Prison Flick
    Prison movies have a tendency to dissolve into contrived stereotypes, so watching ESCAPE FROM ALCATRAZ is soothing relief. Outside of the typical sadistic warden (yet Patrick McGoohan makes a most interesting and believable villain), this film concentrates more on the logistics of breaking out of "The Rock"--the formidable federal prison Alcatraz, isolated on its own island in the icy waters of San Francisco Bay. Based on a true story, Clint Eastwood plays calm, level-headed Frank Morris, a prisoner on a mission to be the first to escape.

    While conditions inside the prison are stark, brutal, and harsh (yet name me one maximum security prison where they're not), this movie doesn't reach its stride until Morris makes up his mind to escape, comes up with an ingenious plan, then patiently implements it. Assisted primarily by two brothers (look for a young Fred Ward), the machinations as the prisoners chisel away at their air vents, smuggle tools into their cells, utilize plaster of paris (as well as making it in their tiny sinks), are fascinating viewing. There are setbacks to be sure, along with plenty of almost-getting-discovered suspense, but as ESCAPE FROM ALCATRAZ concludes you'll be cheering the escapees on.
    --D. Mikels, Author, The Reckoning...more info
  • Movie would've been better if it was made in 1969 than 1979
    In the late 60's Hollywood still had a way of making movies (tht was lost just a few years later) with thick story. That's what this mostly true story needed----more story. The poster who said we learn so little about Frank Morriss was dead on the money. We do learn next to nothing about him. It's wrong the way the film varies focuses so much on other prisoners so much. I wonder if this film may have benefitted greatly from a narration. I have learned there are a couple of anachronisms in this movie as well (check and or for them). Lastly, the warden. Patrick McGoohan has come under some fire for allegedly being at least bi-sexual in real life. It doesn't do wonders for this movie with the warden to be portrayed by such a questionable individual as homosexuality is a big factor in prisons. If McGoohan is a bi-sexual it means some gay characteristics filter over into his portrayal. Besides he's playing a real-life fellow. Was the real Alcatraz warden this bi-sexual in attitude?...more info
  • This is Movie like they use to make them
    Escape from Alcatraz is a straightforward , no nonsense kind of movie which is very rarely being made today. No gimmicks, no sex to speak of, and really it was a man's movie as I believe only one female appeared in the whole movie. Everyone was acting their all and even the bit part actors were in top form. It was exciting without being a bloodbath and I enjoyed seeing the movie again after many years. Nearly 2 hours of first class entertainment and look out for Danny Glover in his first starring role I believe. You may have already guess that I enjoy the movies which were made in the 40s, 50s, and 60s much more than most of the garbage made today. Thank you for giving me the chance to write this review. Michael J Wareham...more info
  • Great movie.
    Frank Morris (Clint Eastwood) is transferred to Alcatraz after having escaped from another, in what is made out to be, a long series of prisons. He makes friends with some of the other inmates (Doc-Roberts Blossom; English-Paul Benjamin; Charley Butts-Larry Hankin; Litmus-Frank Ronzio) and has some friends from a previous prison join him (Clarence Anglin-Jack Thibeau; John Anglin-Fred Ward). He also has to deal with an inmate that is out to get him (Wolf-Bruce M. Fischer) and a warden that is pretty rough on the inmates (Patrick McGoohan). Together they plot their escape from Alcatraz and three of the four (Frank and the Anglin brothers get away, Charlie doesn't) in on the plan actually get away.

    My Comments:
    The movie is pretty similar to The Shawshank Redemption in a lot of ways. But I wouldn't necessarily consider one better than the other. The only problems I had with this movie is that we never really find out much about Frank other than he is a career criminal. There is one line about his childhood, but he doesn't say much other than that it was 'short'. It would have been interesting to know more about some of the other people involved. However, this really doesn't affect the movie and should have been taken care of as special features on the DVD (it doesn't really have any). Other than that and the movie being slow in a few spots, the movie was really great.

    Overall, the movie is remarkably well done and very convincing. It is based on a true story and is a very enjoyable. If you liked The Shawshank Redemption, you should like this....more info

  • Movie man's review
    It was a great movie. i think it was worth getting. Because its just that good....more info
  • Great Clint Flick
    Clint plays it cool in this movie and having been to Alcatraz a few times, it really hits home as to how these guys could have escaped the Rock....more info
  • SLOW
    I'm honestly at a loss for why this movie is getting such good reviews. The only reason I liked it is because I am facinated by Alcatraz. The movie doesn't get you involved with the characters and the plotline is weak. I can't really recommend this but it wasn't horrible....more info
  • Film is good, but the books are better
    Apparently most of the reviewers have only seen the movie. If you're familiar with the books on the subject: "Escape from Alcatraz" by John Campbell Bruce, and "Breaking the Rock" by Jolene Babyak, who actually lived there, you'll find that the real story is way more intriguing than the film could ever be. So much of the film tries to unnecessarily sensationalize events or characters, like the the black inmate English, and his relationship to Morris never existed, nor could it have in 1960-62 prison life. One of the reasons these guys wound up in Alcatraz was because of their extreme racial animosity. The efforts of the (four) prisoners to get out was more intense, involved, time consuming, and dangerous than the film makes out.

    Do yourself a favor and hit a library near you for the "real meat"....more info
    This is one of these great movies that keeps you cheering for the villans as they attempt to outwit the establishment; This time it's the notorious Alcatraz Federal Prison and it's cold and heartless warden, played excellently by Patrick McGoohan (he also played the equally cold and ruthless King Longshanks in Braveheart). By prison movie standards, this one is very realistic and keeps you in suspense right to the end. It's my second-favorite prison movie, just behind The Shawshank Redemption.

    Clint Eastwood plays Frank Morris, a life-long con who has been sent to Alcatraz in part because of his successful past escape attempts. The warden advises Morris that Alcatraz was built to keep all the "rotten eggs in one basket." Seconds later, Morris finds his first 'tool' to assist in his escape; the wardens nail clippers! Later, Morris meets his soon-to-be accomplices, brothers he met in another institution. It's not long before Morris finds his path to freedom, with the unlikely aid of a cockroach. Together, taking risky and cunning chances to sneak items into their cells to assist in their escape, the three men and one more-reluctant con find a way to make their break. The build-up to the escape is absolutely brilliant. Every scene leaves you on the edge of your seat. You can imagine what it was really like trying to pull off this escape.

    The beauty of this movie is that it is based on a true story. It is the most famous of all prison escapes and one of the few where the fate of the escapees is unknown to this day. It would be awesome, assuming they lived, that one or more of the escapees would come forward to tell their story today. I would support a pardon for all three of them just for pulling it off. As for their fate, I recently watched a documentary that attempted to replicate their escape and determine if they could have survived swimming in that frigid Bay-area water. Even an experienced swimmer could not make it. It was determined that unless a boat was waiting for them, they would have died of hypothermia and been swept out to sea by the strong currents.

    There was a fourth escapee of Alcatraz that we dont know the fate of: the little mouse that belonged to the old man. Remember, Morris put him in his shirt pocket and said, "You're coming along, too." I hope they made it!...more info