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Movie Info

Released from solitary confinement, prisoner Joe Collins (Burt Lancaster) learns that his supportive wife, Ruth (Ann Blyth), is refusing surgery to treat her potentially deadly cancer, unless Joe can be by her side after the operation. But while Joe is plotting his escape with fellow prisoner Gallagher (Charles Bickford), a violent incident in the prison machine shop causes the entire prison to go into lockdown mode, overseen by the mean-spirited guard Captain Munsey (Hume Cronyn).

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Critic Reviews for Brute Force

All Critics (16) | Top Critics (4) | Fresh (15) | Rotten (1)

  • The escape sequence has the spatial intricacy of the heist in Dassin's Rififi, but the tone is tougher, bleaker, and more suspenseful.

    April 8, 2008 | Full Review…
  • Bristling, biting dialog by Richard Brooks paints broad cameos as each character takes shape under existing prison life.

    April 8, 2008 | Full Review…
  • This is one of Dassin's best films.

    June 24, 2006
  • Producer Joan Harrison, who seems to have profited from a long association with Alfred Hitchcock, and Director Irving Pichel have created mounting suspense which comes to a distinctly surprising and explosive climax as the jury brings its verdict.

    March 25, 2006 | Rating: 4/5 | Full Review…
  • Dassin cleverly combines film noir with other genres to create an explosive, dark and violent prison melodrama about inmates who are on the edge. [Full review in Spanish]

    October 21, 2020 | Rating: 7/10 | Full Review…
  • It's inherently compelling subject matter that's employed to progressively engrossing effect by Dassin...

    October 16, 2020 | Rating: 3.5/4 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for Brute Force

  • Jan 11, 2019
    Great cinematography and the closing action scene is excellently staged by director Jules Dassin. But some of Richard Brooks' script is brutishly corny and forced. (Yeah, I know.) Nonetheless, despite its flaws, worthy of all prison noir film fans.
    Aldo G Super Reviewer
  • Jan 10, 2017
    This early Burt Lancaster piece is an underrated classic. I don't understand the G rating but the strong performances make it a fantastic tour de force.
    John B Super Reviewer
  • Jun 15, 2011
    With a realistic and brutally honest ending, the film comes to an end. However, during the movie we are pulling for the criminals to make a daring escape. Each character has their own stories and backgrounds that make you care about their fates. The film captures the feeling of despair and the bars and darkened prison cells are all on display and bring about the feeling of a cage. These cages are filled with people and no matter how much Captain Munsey thinks he is in a position to do as he pleases, he never realizes that they are still human beings. He will reap what he sows down the line. Highly Recommended!
    Chris B Super Reviewer
  • Apr 02, 2010
    Good prison movie staring Burt Lancaster. After one infraction too many, prison guard Cpt. Munsey assigns tough guy Collins (Lancaster) and his fellow prisoners to the dreaded drain pipe detail. With the support of his cellmates, Collins hatches an escape plan that could cost him his life. Brute Force is well acted with a strong story. Many films of this era had tendencies to add a lot of sappy melodrama, but not this time, Brute Force never went down that path, and is on par with anything Hollywood has produced since. Overall, well worth hunting down.
    Jonny C Super Reviewer

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