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CLINT EASTWOOD STARS IN DON SIEGEL'S 'ESCAPE FROM ALCATRAZ'

Clint Eastwood in ESCAPE FROM ALCATRAZ Year: 1979 Rating: ***1/2

Don Siegel's ESCAPE FROM ALCATRAZ starred his most famous actor/collaborator, Clint Eastwood, and it turns out the picture seems more Eastwood-directed because of the rather safe, mainstream appeal...

For instance, once Eastwood as new inmate Frank Morris... the real life prisoner who actually escaped with two brothers and were never heard of since... enters the infamous rock island as horror movie lightning lights up the dark Alcatraz interior, the upcoming sequences has Clint's character meeting friendly inmates and, with one major exception, the most notorious prison in American history doesn't seem all that awful...

Bruce M. Fischer and Clint Eastwood in ESCAPE FROM ALCATRAZ

The primary threat is bullying lifer Wolf (Bruce M. Fischer), who wants Morris as his punk... and had anyone besides the granite-faced/never-lose Eastwood starred, there might have been some suspense during their various brawls....

But ALCATRAZ is as much a cemented vehicle for Clint as he and director Siegel's DIRTY HARRY... seeming less a biopic of gritty prison life and more a gritty-for-a-TV-Movie with violence and swearing...

Roberts Blossom and Clint Eastwood in ESCAPE FROM ALCATRAZ

Fellow inmates range from a nice old fella with a pet mouse (probably based on The Birdman from Alcatraz) and comic actor Larry Hankin as a poor dolt with a name that's a punchline all its own, Charley Butts, ironically based on the fourth would-be escapee who was more a lethal criminal than Morris or The Anglin Brothers: criminal siblings played by square-jawed ruffians Fred Ward and Eastwood regular Jack Thibeau...

Another inmate is veteran actor and father-figure type Roberts Blossom, whose penchant for painting is ruined by an overboard warden played by famous over-actor Patrick McGoohan, whose actual performance is ironically subdued here... but like one of those cat-lapped Bond villains with a purring desire to rule the world...

Paul Benjamin and Clint Eastwood in ESCAPE FROM ALCATRAZ

Making the coolest, most naturally-tough convict in expository-spouting black actor Paul Benjamin, who runs the library-cart with Eastwood, and, had these two planned and executed a fictional jailbreak in a rougher kind of prison flick, Noir veteran Don Siegel would fit more as full-blown director as opposed to directorial-partner and co-producer...

Meanwhile, despite the hackneyed prison flick ingredients, the best scenes actually occur during those rudimentary scenes of inmate interplay, that are both involving and fun while the second-to-third-act escape plan becomes so meticulous that, while there's a fair amount of guard-passing tension and urgency, it's way too drawn-out and predictable, especially given the historically-based/built-in title.

Danny Glover (with a different voice) and Clint Eastwood in ESCAPE FROM ALCATRAZ
Clint Eastwood in ESCAPE FROM ALCATRAZ
Frank Ronzio and Clint Eastwood in ESCAPE FROM ALCATRAZ
Bruce M. Fischer in ESCAPE FROM ALCATRAZ
Clint Eastwood and Larry Hankin in ESCAPE FROM ALCATRAZ
Jack Thibeau and Larry Hankin in ESCAPE FROM ALCATRAZ
Clint Eastwood and Fred Ward in ESCAPE FROM ALCATRAZ
Jack Thibeau and Fred Ward in ESCAPE FROM ALCATRAZ
Patrick McGoohan (warden) and Clint Eastwood in ESCAPE FROM ALCATRAZ
Patrick McGoohan (warden) and Clint Eastwood in ESCAPE FROM ALCATRAZ
Paul Benjamin and Clint Eastwood in ESCAPE FROM ALCATRAZ
Bruce M. Fischer and Paul Benjamin in ESCAPE FROM ALCATRAZ
Bruce M. Fischer and Clint Eastwood fight in Escape from Alcatraz & City Heat
Blu Ray for ESCAPE FROM ALCATRAZ
Clint Eastwood in ESCAPE FROM ALCATRAZ
Clint Eastwood in ESCAPE FROM ALCATRAZ

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