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WARNER ARCHIVES MELODRAMA 'CONVICTS 4' WITH BEN GAZARRA

Ben Gazarra and Sammy Davis Jr. in CONVICTS 4 Year: 1962 Rating: **

There's a point in the prison drama CONVICTS 4 when Ben Gazzara, after standing-through a rowdy lecture from one-scene-only chief guard Rod Steiger, complains about bedbugs in his cot: Which wouldn't seem all that questionable if the film actually began with Gazarra's John Resko being thrown into this not-so-cleanly prison...

But what the audience and main character had suffered through during an entire first act was a waiting game for impending execution on death row, harboring the most suspenseful and effective scenes and making those gripes about the next prison's subpar prison-conditions seem outright ludicrous...

Ben Gazarra and Sammy Davis Jr. in CONVICTS 4

What CONVICTS 4 almost achieves is an old school crime-genre collective of character-actors, not including another of several random "guest spots" in Sammy Davis Jr. as a pontificating cell mate but Timothy Carey as one of the more edgy inmates, a role he'd perfected in the noirish exploitation REVOLT IN THE BIG HOUSE...

Only this is more a rehabilitation-victory tale as Gazarra  eventually proves himself as a painter (with the help of good guard Stuart Whitman no thanks to bad warden Broderick Crawford); although it would would have fared better on television... but a decade later, when gritty realism became a bit more realistic and less like an Actor's Studio workshop.

Death Row sequence Andy Williams as a goading guard from CONVICTS 4
Timothy Carey in CONVICTS 4
Rod Steiger in CONVICTS 4
Broderick Crawford and Stuart Whitman in CONVICTS 4
Ben Gazarra in CONVICTS 4
Ben Gazarra in CONVICTS 4 with Stuart Whitman

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