Brute Force (1947)


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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 … More

Rating: G
Genre: Drama, Classics
Directed By:
Written By: Richard Brooks
In Theaters:
On DVD: Apr 17, 2007
Criterion Collection - Official Site


as Joe Collins

as Capt. Munsey

as Gallagher

as Robert `Soldier' Bec...

as Ruth

as Flossie

as Louis

as Dr. Walters

as Warden Barnes

as Spencer

as Ferrara

as Freshman

as Crenshaw

as Kid Coy

as Tom Lister

as Calypso

as Jackson

as Armed Guard in Drain...

as Roberts

as Hoffman

as Strella

as Convict Foreman

as Bradley

as Machine Gunner

as Chaplain

as Kincaid

as Miss Lawrence

as Sergeant

as Prisoner

as Prisoner

as Prisoner

as Prisoner

as Tompkins

as Plonski

as Hearse Driver

as Young Girl

as Young Inmate

as Convict's Son

as Visitor
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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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