Brute Force (1947) Sadistic Prison Guard Gives Lancaster Beef!

Brute Force (1947) mvie poster burt lancaster jules dassin

Tough driving rain smashes against the brick fortress of the Westgate Penitentiary prison walls. If the place wasn’t dark enough as it was, the bleak cold rain just added more dreary dread to the inmates banged up inside. Six guys per cell room, squeezed in like sardines, so close together you just had to be friends. Luckily the six in cellroom R17 are tight together, a band of brothers watching out for each other.

Brutal Force (1947) Jules Dassin prison westgate penitentiaryBrutal Force (1947) Joe Collins Burt Lancaster cell mates prison

The maverick of the group, the one they all look up to, is Joe Collins (Burt Lancaster). With his tough persona, thinking on his feet attitude, he’s become the reluctant leader of their small room. Crammed in between the bars with Joe are Spencer (John Hoyt), Robert “Soldier” (Howard Duff), Tom Lister (Whit Bissell), Kid Coy (Jack Overman) and “Freshman” Stack (Jeff Corey).

Brutal Force (1947) Joe Collins Burt Lancaster crammed small cell mates prison

Tagline – HUMAN DYNAMITE! Told the Raw, Ruthless “KILLERS” Way!

Would you believe me if I said there’s actually a seventh member of this claustrophobic room? Who just happens to be a beautiful young lady, well a calendar face, on the wall keeping a watchful eye on them. Each seeing something different in her face, a way to remember the past and a clever way to give our main players out the six their back stories.

Brutal Force (1947) Kid Coy Jack Overman calendar girl prisonBrutal Force (1947) R17 cell room Captain Munsey Joe Collins Burt Lancaster

The conditions at the prison are tough and what with constant fights breaking out and having to dodge rival gangs, they find most things are dealable to get through the day. But there’s one small thing that’s in the way! That small thing is a sadistic jumped up little shit called Captain Munsey (Hume Cronyn) a brutal power hungry, ruthless and vicious minded bastard. Munsey wants to seize control within the prison and sees the opportunity to relinquish the top spot from the weak Warden A J Barnes (Roman Bohnen).

Brutal Force (1947) Captain Munsey Hume Cronyn Joe Collins Burt LancasterBrutal Force (1947) Jules Dassin prison westgate penitentiary prison fight guard

The onslaught of brutality starts to work it’s way through the prison with Munsey and his top guard and right hand man Hodges (Jay C Flippen).  After getting put on drain duty and what with the pull of loved ones back at home, they decide there’s nothing else for it, a jailbreak is the only option.

Tagline – Raw! Rough! Ruthless!

Brutal Force (1947) Joe Collins Burt Lancaster Gallagher Charles Bickford film noir

Tune into see what will happen to these guys as they plan their escape, will Captain Munsey get what’s coming to him or will he outsmart the inmates with his manipulations and brutality?

A few observations……

  • Tell me it isn’t so! The cute old man from 80’s sci-fi classics *batteries not included and Cocoon can’t really of been this mean as a youngster? Hume Cronyn really digs out a Nazi SS gestapo style performance thats makes you wanna grab him through the screen.
  • A few other great parts are taken up by the wise but alcoholic Doctor Walters (Art Smith), convict newspaper reporter Louie Miller (Sam Levene) and tough head prisoner Gallagher (Charles Bickford).

Brutal Force (1947) Jules Dassin prison westgate penitentiary flame burner scene

  • The title name of “Brutal Force” really lives up to its name. For the time, seeing the violent and ferocious scenes unfold must have looked savage on the big screen. Even now the interrogation scene makes you winch back some.
  • Directed by Jules Dassin whom I’m going to have a heap of fun exploring his filmography as the only other one of his films I’ve seen so far is the wonderful Night and The City. I have Thieves Highway and The Naked City lined up to see very soon but I see there’s loads more gems of his to see.

Brutal Force (1947) Jules Dassin prison westgate penitentiary prisoners waiting

What a time to be discovering film noir! I am completely spoilt for choice. Over the last few years I’ve ticked off lots but there are absolute thousands to be enjoyed. Hope you’ve liked the three noir drama’s in a row I’ve picked this week, Side Street and Split Second being the other two. I’m off to the 80’s next time, so pop on back if you wish and see what I’ve picked.

Take it easy…… Mikey the wolf

9 thoughts on “Brute Force (1947) Sadistic Prison Guard Gives Lancaster Beef!

  1. This film is still a very tough watch. Strong performances to enjoy. Cracking film for sure. If you want more from Dassin check out Rififi and The Naked City.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I think you need to change the name of your site to Wolfmans Cult Film Noir Club! Another great noir of many you still have left to see! Jules Dassin did some great noir work…The Naked City has some great location shooting, and Night and the City was just flat-out well done, in my opinion. And if you want to see Cronyn play a cool good guy from his early years (instead of a ‘sadistic jumped up little shit’…ha!), check out ‘The Seventh Cross’!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Haha yes the blog has started to go Noir heavy Todd hasn’t it! Having so much fun ticking off classics and finding new discoveries. Love the run-times too, always a bit easier to fit in on a “school night”… I loved Night and The City, so brilliant, how cool to have some wrestling in noir. I have The Naked City but still haven’t got round to it yet. Need to get my finger out. Thanks for the tip on Cronyn, I don’t know that one, I’m on the case, thank you. I did see him in Lifeboat this month, with a really bad English accent dare I say 🙂


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