Film Review: ESCAPE FROM ALCATRAZ (1979)

Image result for escape from alcatraz 1979ESCAPE FROM ALCATRAZ (USA, 1979) ****
      Distributor: Paramount Pictures (USA), Cinema International Corporation (CIC) (UK); Production Company: Paramount Pictures / The Malpaso Company; Release Date: 22 June 1979 (USA), 24 January 1980 (UK); Filming Dates: 16 October 1978 – January 1979; Running Time: 112m; Colour: DeLuxe; Sound Mix: Mono; Film Format: 35mm; Film Process: Spherical; Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1; BBFC Cert: 15.
      Director: Don Siegel; Writer: Richard Tuggle (based on the book by J. Campbell Bruce); Executive Producer: Robert Daley; Producer: Don Siegel; Associate Producer: Fritz Manes; Director of Photography: Bruce Surtees; Music Composer: Jerry Fielding; Film Editor: Ferris Webster; Casting Director: Marion Dougherty, Wallis Nicita; Production Designer: Allen E. Smith; Art Director: ; Set Decorator: Edward J. McDonald; Costumes: Glenn Wright; Make-up: Joe McKinney; Sound: Bub Asman, Bert Hallberg, Alan Robert Murray; Special Effects: Chuck Gaspar.
       Cast: Clint Eastwood (Frank Morris), Patrick McGoohan (Warden), Roberts Blossom (Chester ‘Doc’ Dalton), Jack Thibeau (Clarence Anglin), Fred Ward (John Anglin), Paul Benjamin (English), Larry Hankin (Charley Butts), Bruce M. Fischer (Wolf), Frank Ronzio (Litmus), Fred Stuthman (Johnson), David Cryer (Wagner), Madison Arnold (Zimmerman), Blair Burrows (Fight Guard), Bob Balhatchet (Medical Technical Assistant), Matthew Locricchio (Exam Guard), Don Michaelian (Beck), Ray K. Goman (Cellblock Captain), Jason Ronard (Bobs), Ed Vasgersian (Cranston), Ron Vernan (Stone), Regina Baff (Lucy), Hank Brandt (Associate Warden), Candace Bowen (English’s Daughter), Joe Miksak (Police Sgt.), Stephen Bradley (Exam Guard), Garry Goodrow (Weston), Ross Reynolds (Helicopter Pilot), Al Dunlap (Visitors’ Guard), Denis Berkfeldt (Guard), Jim Haynie (Guard), Tony Dario (Guard), Fritz Manes (Guard), Dana Derfus (Guard), Don Cummins (Guard), Gordon Handforth (Guard), John Scanlon (Guard), Don Watters (Guard), Dan Leegant (Guard), Joe Knowland (Guard), James Collier (Guard), R.J. Ganzert (Guard), Robert Hirschfeld (Guard), Lloyd Nelson (Guard), George Orrison (Guard), Gary Warren (Guard), Joseph Whipp (Guard), Terry Wills (Guard), John Garabedian (Guard), Dale Alvarez (Inmate), Sheldon Feldner (Inmate), Danny Glover (Inmate), Carl Lumbly (Inmate), Patrick Valentino (Inmate), Gilbert Thomas Jr. (Inmate), Eugene Jackson (Inmate).
      Synopsis: Frank Morris (Eastwood), a hardened con with a history of prison breaks, is sent to serve the rest of his life sentence at Alcatraz — America’s most infamously brutal and inescapable maximum security prison. Morris quickly realizes the prison’s dehumanizing effects and clashes with its cruel warden (McGoohan). Fed up with life at Alcatraz, Morris and two convict brothers (Ward, Thibeau) meticulously plan the unthinkable: an escape from the island.
      Comment: Well-made account of a true story of the last attempt of prisoners to escape from the remote, rock-based San Francisco prison. Eastwood teams once again with director Siegel and the latter is at his efficient and effective best. Eastwood uses his screen persona to good effect in a role that allows him to stick within his confines. The tension in the relationship between the prisoners and their captors, notably McGoohan’s determined warden, is well played by a strong cast. The final escape sequence itself is impressively staged.
      Notes: Glover’s film debut. Song: “D Block Blues,” by Gilbert Thomas, Jr. Less than one year after the real-life events that are depicted in the film, the prison was shut down. The escape occurred on June 11, 1962, and the prison closed on March 21, 1963. Because the penitentiary cost much more to operate than other prisons (nearly ten dollars per prisoner per day, as opposed to three dollars per prisoner per day at Atlanta), and half a century of salt water saturation had severely eroded the buildings, Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy ordered the penitentiary closed on March 21, 1963.

Film Review – THE GAUNTLET (1977)

Image result for the gauntlet 1977THE GAUNTLET (USA, 1977) ***
      Distributor: Warner Bros. (USA), Columbia-Warner Distributors (UK); Production Company: Warner Bros / The Malpaso Company; Release Date: 21 December 1977 (USA), 22 December 1977 (UK); Filming Dates: 4 April – June 1977; Running Time: 109m; Colour: DeLuxe; Sound Mix: 4-Track Stereo; Film Format: 35mm; Film Process: Panavision (anamorphic); Aspect Ratio: 2.39:1; BBFC Cert: 18.
      Director: Clint Eastwood; Writer: Michael Butler, Dennis Shryack; Producer: Robert Daley; Associate Producer: Fritz Manes; Director of Photography: Rexford L. Metz; Music Composer: Jerry Fielding; Film Editor: Joel Cox, Ferris Webster; Art Director: Allen E. Smith; Set Decorator: Ira Bates; Costumes: Glenn Wright; Make-up: Don Schoenfeld; Sound: Bert Hallberg; Special Effects: Chuck Gaspar.
      Cast: Clint Eastwood (Ben Shockley), Sondra Locke (Gus Mally), Pat Hingle (Josephson), William Prince (Blakelock), Bill McKinney (Constable), Michael Cavanaugh (Feyderspiel), Carole Cook (Waitress), Mara Corday (Jail Matron), Doug McGrath (Bookie), Jeff Morris (Desk Sergeant), Samantha Doane (Biker), Roy Jenson (Biker), Dan Vadis (Biker), Carver Barnes (Bus Driver), Robert Barrett (Paramedic), Teddy Bear (Lieutenant), Mildred Brion (Old Lady on Bus), Ron Chapman (Veteran Cop), Don Circle (Bus Clerk), James W. Gavin (Helicopter Pilot), Thomas H. Friedkin (Helicopter Pilot), Darwin Lamb (Police Captain), Roger Lowe (Paramedic Driver), Fritz Manes (Helicopter Gunman), John Quiroga (Cab Driver), Josef Rainer (Rookie Cop), Art Rimdzius (Judge), Al Silvani (Police Sergeant).
      Synopsis: A hard but mediocre cop is assigned to escort a prostitute into custody from Las Vegas to Phoenix, so that she can testify in a mob trial. But a lot of people are literally betting that they won’t make it into town alive.
      Comment: Preposterous, ludicrous, but entertaining if taken in the right spirit and you are willing to condone its black humour as well as ignore the numerous plot holes. The movie must have set the record for the most gunshots on film. Eastwood and Locke make for a sparky team of misfits brought together by fate and a desire for the villains to remove them both from the scene. A long chase ensues with cartoon violent action sequences and barbed dialogue keeping things interesting. It’s hard not to smile at the absurdities or be impressed by Locke’s confident performance and Eastwood’s atypical dim-witted detective.
      Notes: The premise was reworked as the Bruce Willis vehicle 16 BLOCKS (2006).

Film Review – THE OUTLAW JOSEY WALES (1976)

Image result for the outlaw josey walesTHE OUTLAW JOSEY WALES (USA, 1976) ****½
      Distributor: Warner Bros. (USA), Columbia-Warner Distributors (UK); Production Company: Warner Bros. / The Malpaso Company; Release Date: 26 June 1976 (USA), 29 August 1976 (UK); Filming Dates: 6 October – late November 1975; Running Time: 135m; Colour: DeLuxe; Sound Mix: Mono; Film Format: 35mm; Film Process: Panavision (anamorphic); Aspect Ratio: 2.39:1; BBFC Cert: 18.
      Director: Clint Eastwood; Writer: Philip Kaufman, Sonia Chernus (based on the book “Gone To Texas” by Forrest Carter); Producer: Robert Daley; Associate Producer: James Fargo, John G. Wilson; Director of Photography: Bruce Surtees; Music Composer: Jerry Fielding; Film Editor: Ferris Webster; Casting Director: Jack Kosslyn; Production Designer: Tambi Larsen; Set Decorator: Charles Pierce; Costumes: Glenn Wright; Make-up: Joe McKinney; Sound: Bert Hallberg; Special Effects: R.A. MacDonald, A. Paul Pollard, Frank Hafeman (uncredited).
      Cast: Clint Eastwood (Josey Wales), Chief Dan George (Lone Watie), Sondra Locke (Laura Lee), Bill McKinney (Terrill), John Vernon (Fletcher), Paula Trueman (Grandma Sarah), Sam Bottoms (Jamie), Geraldine Keams (Little Moonlight), Woodrow Parfrey (Carpetbagger), Joyce Jameson (Rose), Sheb Wooley (Travis Cobb), Royal Dano (Ten Spot), Matt Clark (Kelly), John Verros (Chato), Will Sampson (Ten Bears), William O’Connell (Sim Carstairs), John Quade (Comanchero Leader), Frank Schofield (Senator Lane), Buck Kartalian (Shopkeeper), Len Lesser (Abe), Doug McGrath (Lige), John Russell (Bloody Bill Anderson), Charles Tyner (Zukie Limmer), Bruce M. Fischer (Yoke), John Mitchum (Al), John Davis Chandler (First Bounty Hunter), Tom Roy Lowe (Second Bounty Hunter), Clay Tanner (First Texas Ranger), Bob Hoy (Second Texas Ranger), Madeleine Taylor Holmes (Grannie Hawkins), Erik Holland (Union Army Sergeant), Cissy Wellman (Josey’s Wife), Faye Hamblin (Grandpa), Danny Green (Lemuel).
      Synopsis: A Missouri farmer joins a Confederate guerrilla unit and winds up on the run from the Union soldiers who murdered his family.
     Comment: One of the best Westerns ever made, this often violent but epic tale works over a number of evolving themes and is also a remarkable character study. Eastwood the director allows the story sufficient room to breathe and develop and draws great performances from a strong cast. Eastwood the star fleshes out his standard persona into a characterisation that grows as the story progresses. Chief Dan George also gives a wonderful scene-stealing performance as an old Indian with an ironic sense of humour. The film is beautifully photographed by Surtees, who takes advantage of the autumnal vistas with great use of natural light. All other aspects of the production are top notch, with the authentic production design and costumes also standout aspects. Jerry Fielding’s score, nominated for the Academy Award for Original Music Score, is sparse and eschews the convention for big orchestral gestures, settling instead for sparse but subtly effectively interjections which heighten the tension in this mature and intelligent genre classic.
     Notes: Philip Kaufman started to direct the film but was replaced by Eastwood, a controversial move which prompted the DGA to institute a ban on any current cast or crew member replacing the director on a film – a rule which has ever since been titled the “Eastwood rule.” Based on the book “Gone to Texas” by Forrest Carter. Followed by THE RETURN OF JOSEY WALES (1986) without Eastwood.