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Escape from Alcatraz (1979)


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Average Rating: N/A
Critic Reviews: 4
Fresh: 4 | Rotten: 0



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Average Rating: 3.6/5
User Ratings: 63,857

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Movie Info

No one can escape from Alcatraz, right? Try telling that to lifer Frank Morris (Clint Eastwood). This Donald Siegel-directed nailbiter is a reenactment of Frank Morris' 1962 attempt to bust himself and two other cons out of The Rock. Eastwood, as Morris, tilts with nasty warden Patrick McGoohan for a while, befriends several fellow prisoners, and picks the guys with whom he'll make his escape. Among his break-out buddies are the Anglin Brothers (Fred Ward and Jack Thibeau), with whom he'd served

Mar 9, 1999

Paramount Home Video

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All Critics (20) | Top Critics (4) | Fresh (19) | Rotten (1) | DVD (4)

Escape from Alcatraz is relentless in establishing a mood and pace of unrelieved tension.

March 26, 2009 Full Review Source: Variety
Top Critic IconTop Critic

It's an austere depiction of the tedious routines of prison life, and of the courage and strength of spirit needed in coping with unpleasant warders, tough fellow-inmates, and a life sentence.

January 26, 2006 Full Review Source: Time Out
Time Out
Top Critic IconTop Critic

It's one of those very difficult exercises in which large emotions, like the compulsion to be free, are reflected in minute actions, like the chipping away at stone with a pocket nail clipper.

October 23, 2004 Full Review Source: Chicago Sun-Times
Chicago Sun-Times
Top Critic IconTop Critic

What Mr. Siegel has made is fiction, a first-rate action movie that is about the need and the decision to take action, as well as the action itself.

May 20, 2003 Full Review Source: New York Times
New York Times
Top Critic IconTop Critic

One of the better prison break films.

September 1, 2010 Full Review Source: Ozus' World Movie Reviews
Ozus' World Movie Reviews

Siegel stages it all like a collection of haikus, all grilled corners and hard camera pans, not a single wasted frame

November 13, 2009 Full Review Source: CinePassion

Escape from Alcatraz was the last of five films that Don Siegel directed with Clint Eastwood, and it's the end of an impeccable track record.

June 18, 2009 Full Review Source: Combustible Celluloid
Combustible Celluloid

Eastwood adds a lot of grit to this entertaining prison flick.

April 17, 2005

Eastwood and McGoohan make this work.

September 21, 2004
Tolucan Times

Classy and intriguing.

June 12, 2004
Shadows on the Wall

Escape from Alcatraz is an above average prison break flick.

January 27, 2004 Full Review Source: Spirituality and Practice
Spirituality and Practice

Audience Reviews for Escape from Alcatraz

Maybe for its time, it was considered a great masterpiece but with little character development and no real emotions it's hard to like this slow paced uneventful long movie!
October 11, 2013
Film Crazy

Super Reviewer

An efficient prison break movie that manages to be tense and gripping, even though there is nothing really memorable about the plot and it does not make any attempt to conceal the artificial and clearly manipulative efforts to create suspense in many key scenes.
October 8, 2013

Super Reviewer

Warden: Some men are destined never to leave Alcatraz... alive. 

"No one has ever escaped from Alcatraz... And no one ever will."

Escape From Alcatraz has always been a movie of great interest to me. I've seen it probably a dozen times by now and I still am engrossed by every minute of it. I first watched this movie when I was nine years old, shortly after visiting Alcatraz. The prison is an eerie place and the movie brings that out through the characterization of the inmates and especially of the warden. The film has obviously been worn down over the years, but I still hold it up as one of the best prison movies out there. Especially, prison escape movies.

Frank Morris arrives at Alcatraz and is told by the warden that it is inescapable. Morris had broken out of prisons before and that's why he was sent to Alcatraz. He starts nosing around trying to find a way out, when two old prison buddies show up. They too were sent to Alcatraz for breaking out of prison. Through prison jobs  they get the necessary equipment they need to try to break out of there cells and hopefully the prison altogether. The ending isn't much of a secret, unless you know absolutely nothing about the history of Alcatraz, but it is a suspenseful film nonetheless. 

Don Siegel and Clint Eastwood are again collaborating on this one, and it, to me, is their best collaboration. Eastwood is playing a prototypical Eastwood character, while a nice supporting cast brings presence to the characters around him. There's intrigue in the friendships, anger at the warden, and a hope that Frank can really make it out. The movie succeeds because it is able to make us care if a criminal is able to make it out. 

The film isn't a masterpiece by any stretch, but what it is, is a cool and intriguing film about one of the most famous jailbreaks in history. Actually, THE most famous jailbreak in history. I wouldn't call it a must watch, but if you are a fan of Eastwood or at all interested in Alcatraz, it is a very worthwhile film. The pacing is just right and we all know Siegel knows how to create suspense from just about anything. There's not a lot of action in the movie, mostly plotting the escape and what not, but the suspense level couldn't be higher throughout the whole film.
January 12, 2013
Melvin White

Super Reviewer

Alcatraz prison, aka The Rock had a reputation for being inescapable, despite the fact that many tried. This film, one of several collaborations between director Don Siegel and Clint Eastwood, is a retelling of perhaps the most famous attempt ever conducted.

It's 1962, and lifer Frank Morris has had just about enough of life behind bars at Alcatraz. Along with two others, Frank begins hatching an inspired plot to be the first ones to successfully flee from the island prison.

It is definitely to the credit of Siegel and others that, even with the ending being known, that this a quite an engrossing nail-biter. The film really draws you in with great atmosphere and holds you in a strong web of suspense all the way through. The editing and cinematography really shine here.

The performances aren't too shabby either, with Patrick McGoohan doing great as the evil Warden, and Eastwood delivering a typically solid turn as Frank. Fred Ward is also quite nice as one of the guys trying to bust out with Frank.

All in all, this is quite an enjoyable and solid thriller. Go check it out.
December 9, 2012
Chris Weber

Super Reviewer

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