Brute Force


Director Jules Dassin’s 1947 Brute Force is one of the last movies he made in America before getting named as a Communist, being blacklisted in Hollywood and resettling in Europe. It tells the story of a group of sympathetic cellmates (led by stalwart hero Burt Lancaster) who plan a dangerous prison break while working on drainpipe detail. Brute Force isn’t up to the level of Dassin’s expatriate classics Night and the City and Rififi, and it’s a touch too cornball for a rough-hewn prison drama, especially when it flashes back to the women the convicts left on the outside. However, the film is more than redeemed by the violence and savagery of its finale, and also boasts brilliant work from Hume Cronyn, four decades before he frolicked with aliens in Cocoon, as a sadistic prison guard.