A closeup on prison life and prison methods, Brute Force is a showmanly mixture of gangster melodramatics, sociological exposition, and sex [from a story by Robert Patterson]. The s.a. elements are plausible and realistic, well within the bounds, but always pointing up the femme fatale. Thus Yvonne De Carlo, Ann Blyth, Ella Raines and Anita Colby are the women on the 'outside' whose machinations, wiles or charms accounted for their men being on the 'inside'.

A closeup on prison life and prison methods, Brute Force is a showmanly mixture of gangster melodramatics, sociological exposition, and sex [from a story by Robert Patterson]. The s.a. elements are plausible and realistic, well within the bounds, but always pointing up the femme fatale. Thus Yvonne De Carlo, Ann Blyth, Ella Raines and Anita Colby are the women on the ‘outside’ whose machinations, wiles or charms accounted for their men being on the ‘inside’.

Burt Lancaster, Charles Bickford, Sam Levene, Howard Duff, Art Smith and Jeff Corey, along with Hume Cronyn as the machinating prison captain (later warden), are the ‘inside’ cast.

Each of the more prominent criminals has a saga. The flashback technique shows how bookkeeper Whit Bissell embezzled $3,000 to give his ambitious wife (Raines) that mink coat; how soldier Duff got jammed with the Military Police because of his love for his Italian bride (De Carlo) and through the snivelling skullduggery of her fascistic father; how the sympathetic Lancaster is in love with the invalided Blyth.

Bristling, biting dialog by Richard Brooks paints broad cameos as each character takes shape under existing prison life. Bickford is the wise and patient prison paper editor whose trusty (Levene), has greater freedom in getting ‘stories’ for the sheet. Cronyn is diligently hateful as the arrogant, brutal captain, with his system of stoolpigeons and bludgeoning methods.

the aspect of an audience rooting for the prisoners plotting a jailbreak is given a sharp turnabout, at the proper time, to point up that brute force by prisoners is as wrong as the brute force exercised by their keepers.

Brute Force

Production

Hellinger/Universal. Director Jules Dassin; Producer Mark Hellinger; Screenplay Richard Brooks; Camera William Daniels; Editor Edward Curtiss; Music Miklos Rozsa; Art Director Bernard Herzbrun, John F. DeCuir

Crew

(B&W) Extract of a review from 1947. Running time: 94 MIN.

Cast

Burt Lancaster Hume Cronyn Charles Bickford Yvonne De Carlo Ann Blyth Howard Duff
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