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NEVILLE BRAND AND ROBERT OSTERLOH 'RIOT IN CELL BLOCK 11'

Title: RIOT IN CELL BLOCK 11 Director: Don Siegel Producer: Walter Wanger Year: 1954 Rating: ****

One of those 1950's Film Noirs that starts out a documentary, in this case an actual warden speaking about the "riot problem" in American prisons while a montage of news footage is shown... 

All occurring after the opening credits to blend with the grainy B&W story-line... as if both fact and fiction were one in the same... despite supposedly hard-edged prisoners Alvy Moore and Dabbs Greer's goofy smiles, donning upturned long-brim caps more befitting a keystone comedy...

Leo Gordon, Dabbs Greer & Alby Moore in Riot in Cell Block 11 with Neville Brand

Albeit quickly made up for by real life San Quentin ex-con Leo Gordon as Carnie (where this is filmed), the psychotic second-fiddle to ringleader Neville Brand as Dunn, spokesman of not only the frenzied riot but taking guards hostage within CELL BLOCK 11, a dark and unkempt, purgatory-like compound that desperately needs a makeover, or else...

The best scenes involve heated meetings with tough but sympathetic warden Emile Meyer, whose own antagonistic ally... a snarky politician setting off the already set-off prisoners... looks down on the bartering Meyer and Brand even more than upright prisoner Robert Osterloh's war-hero The Colonel does the noisiest of his fellow rioting inmates...

Whit Bissell and Neville Brand in RIOT IN CELL BLOCK 11

When Colonel becomes the brain of the negotiated standoff, Brand's brand of instigating menace is unleashed while still remaining this prison's spokesman agitator: a conflicting battle of good vs evil, and without going too over-the-top...

And the suspense really kicks in when it's do-or-die for the guards, all sparsely captured in a unique prison film... liken to a fight-for-work-Union melodrama... that tows the line of gritty realism, governmental idealism and... directed by the always-capable Don Siegel bringing producer Walter Wanger's labor-of-love to life... a heavy dose of mostly uncompromising tough guy cinema.

Neville Brand & Robert Osterloh in Riot in Cell Block 11
Neville Brand & Leo Gordon in Riot in Cell Block 11 with Robert Osterloh
Emile Meyer & Frank Faylen in Riot in Cell Block 11
Neville Brand in Riot in Cell Block 11
Robert Osterloh in Riot in Cell Block 11
Neville Brand in Riot in Cell Block 11
Neville Brand & Leo Gordon in Riot in Cell Block 11 with Dabbs Greer
Alvy Moore in Riot in Cell Block 11 with Dabbs Greer
Leo Gordon as Carnie in Riot in Cell Block 11
Nice nervous newbie guard Paul Frees in Riot in Cell Block 11

Leo Gordon lights up in Riot in Cell Block 11
Robert Osterloh and Neville Brand in Riot in Cell Block 11
Neville Brand in Riot in Cell Block 11
Robert Osterloh in Riot in Cell Block 11
Robert Osterloh and Neville Brand in Riot in Cell Block 11
Robert Osterloh and Neville Brand in Riot in Cell Block 11
Terrific shot from the news reel section from Riot in Cell Block 11
Criterion Blu Ray of RIOT IN CELL BLOCK

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