Here is a jail flick made in sympathy to the prisoners, not that this was so rare before criminals became much more violent in the 1960's. Fed up with the inhumane conditions within the penal system, the inmates rebel. A guard is knocked out and locked up, his keys used to free the other prisoners, and the jail is overtaken in short order. The scene where the prisoners yell and empty the contents of their cells everywhere makes for powerful cinematography.
The prisoners make their demands known, and they want them printed in the papers for all the public to see. They want to be involved in a work program instead of sitting idle; they want the jail to be less crowded and better organized. If their needs are not met, guards will be killed, and the blame will be placed on the penal system authorities. The liberal warden of the prison actually wants to grant their demands, but his budget is constrained by politicians far removed from the system, and thus he is helpless as the clock ticks down.
The film is non-stop excitement and drama. I liked seeing the relationship between the prisoners, and their roles in the revolt. Neville Brand, with a gravelly voice and a build like a Sherman tank, is perfectly cast as the group leader and negotiator.
The movie is based on a story of an actual prison riot in the 1950s, and producer Walter Wanger's experiences as an inmate. Isn't it odd that celebrities get religion on the issue of prison reform AFTER they have been behind bars? Dan Rostenkowski comes to mind too.
Riot in Cell Block 11
Riot in Cell Block 11
Producer Walter Wanger, who had just been released from a prison term after shooting a man he believed was having an affair with his wife, wanted to make a film about the appalling conditions he saw while he was incarcerated. He got together with director Don Siegel and they came up with this film, in which several prison inmates, to protest brutal guards, substandard food, overcrowding and barely livable conditions, stage an uprising, in which most of the inmates join, and take several guards hostage. Negotiations between the inmates and prison officials are stymied, however, by politicians interfering with the prison administration, and by dissension and infighting in the inmates' own ranks.
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April 29, 2014 at 06:50 AM