Brute Force (1947) - Rotten Tomatoes

Brute Force (1947)




Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

Movie Info

Burt Lancaster had one of his first starring roles in this hard-hitting prison drama. Capt. Munsey (Hume Cronyn) is a cruel, corrupt prison guard who has his own less-than-ethical ways of dealing with inmates, enough so that Joe Collins (Lancaster) -- the toughest inmate in the cell block -- has decided to break out. Collins tries to persuade Gallagher (Charles Bickford), the unofficial leader of the inmates and editor of the prison newspaper, to join him, but Gallagher thinks Collins' plan won't work. However, Collins does have the support of his cellmates, most of whom, like himself, wandered into a life of crime thanks to love and good intentions. Tom Lister (Whit Bissell) was an accountant who altered the books so he could buy his wife a mink coat. Soldier (Howard Duff) fell in love with an Italian girl during World War II and took the rap for her when she murdered her father. Collins pulled a bank job to raise money to pay for an operation that could possibly get his girl out of a wheelchair. And Spencer (John Hoyt) made the mistake of getting involved with a female con artist. After Munsey drives Tom to suicide and prevents Gallagher from obtaining parole, Gallagher joins up with Collins and his men in the escape attempt. Director Jules Dassin would next direct the influential noir drama The Naked City; six years later, he would move to Europe after political blacklisting prevented him from continuing to work in the United States.more
Rating: G
Genre: Drama, Classics
Directed By:
Written By: Richard Brooks
In Theaters:
On DVD: Apr 17, 2007
Criterion Collection - Official Site


Burt Lancaster
as Joe Collins
Hume Cronyn
as Capt. Munsey
Howard Duff
as Robert `Soldier' Bec...
Anita Colby
as Flossie
Art Smith
as Dr. Walters
Roman Bohnen
as Warden Barnes
John Hoyt
as Spencer
Frank Puglia
as Ferrara
Jeff Corey
as Freshman
James Bell
as Crenshaw
Jack Overman
as Kid Coy
Whit Bissell
as Tom Lister
Sir Lancelot
as Calypso
Ray Teal
as Jackson
Crane Whitley
as Armed Guard in Drain...
John Harmon
as Roberts
Gene Roth
as Hoffman
Carl Rhodes
as Strella
Guy Beach
as Convict Foreman
Edmund Cobb
as Bradley
Tom Steele
as Machine Gunner
Alex Frazer
as Chaplain
Will Lee
as Kincaid
Ruth Sanderson
as Miss Lawrence
Jack S. Lee
as Sergeant
Billy Wayne
as Prisoner
Rex Dale
as Prisoner
Frank Marlowe
as Prisoner
William Cozzo
as Prisoner
Glenn Strange
as Tompkins
Al Hill
as Plonski
Rex Lease
as Hearse Driver
Blanche Obronska
as Young Girl
Hal Malone
as Young Inmate
Samir Rizkallah
as Convict's Son
Kippee Valez
as Visitor
Show More Cast

News & Interviews for Brute Force

Critic Reviews for Brute Force

All Critics (12) | Top Critics (5)

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

Full Review… | April 8, 2008
Chicago Reader
Top Critic

Bristling, biting dialog by Richard Brooks paints broad cameos as each character takes shape under existing prison life.

Full Review… | April 8, 2008
Top Critic

This is one of Dassin's best films.

Full Review… | June 24, 2006
Time Out
Top Critic

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.

Full Review… | March 25, 2006
New York Times
Top Critic

October 16, 2001
AV Club
Top Critic

Starring Burt Lancaster and cast against type Hume Cronyn, Dassin's first foray into noir is one of the bleakest and most powerful crime prison melodramas ever made, an existential chronicle that also serves as an allegory of American society at large

Full Review… | March 31, 2009

Audience Reviews for Brute Force

Excellent prison escape flick with Burt Lancaster butting heads with sadistic guard Capt. Munsey (a young Hume Cronyn -- imagine a more vicious version of Percy from The Green Mile). Several inmates at Westgate prison have come up dead or injured, and there is some suspicion that Munsey's way of doing his job may be to blame. There are several pretty shocking scenes, and the scene where Munsey literally beats information out of one prisoner has an almost homoerotic S/M feel to it. The climactic battle between the guards and the inmates is as exciting as anything Hollywood has come up with in recent years, and the ending is satisfying. Highly recommended.

Cindy I

Super Reviewer

What saves this movie from being a typical prison flick is its good ending although it would have been better without those crappy last lines said by the doctor

Arash Xak

Super Reviewer


gritty drama about a prison break. burt lancaster is outstanding in only his second film after a great debut in the killers and hume cronyn plays against type as a sadistic guard. there's some sappy melodrama in the flashback scenes but overall pretty damn good

Stella Dallas

Super Reviewer

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