Escape From Alcatraz Parent Review
Yes, it is true. In 1962 three men, Frank Morris along with brothers Clarence and John Anglin, managed to escape from Alcatraz Federal Penitentiary located on a small island in the San Francisco Bay. Of course pulling off the breakout involved careful planning and many tense moments, making it the perfect inspiration for a movie script.
Clint Eastwood plays Morris, a man who has been in – and slipped out of—other jails. Now he’s been sent to “The Rock” where he immediately meets the prison warden (Patrick McGoohan) who reads him the riot act (the script’s way of tell the audience the rules of the game). We learn of the facility’s unique geography and how high walls, stony cliffs and ice-cold waters surround the institution. The building itself is a concrete structure punctuated by steel bars and, if you really misbehave, you get sent to the “hole”—an isolation cell.
Inside, Frank makes friends quickly. Along with becoming reacquainted with his former bank robbing prison chums John and Clarence (Fred Ward, Jack Thibeau), he also becomes buddies with Charley Butts (Larry Hankin), a car thief in the cell next door, as well as English (Paul Benjamin), a black inmate who killed two white men in self-defense. Of course not all of his new roommates are such pleasant fellows. A rapist named Wolf (Bruce M. Fischer) proves to be quite disagreeable, and after he makes a sexual advance on Morris, the two become worst enemies.
Parents should be aware that because of changes in the rating system over the years, the PG applied to this title in 1979 might not prepare you or your family for the assortment of concerns this movie presents. In the opening minutes a shower scene displays a number of naked males—mostly seen from the rear. Prison violence portrays a knife-fight and a depressed inmate who cuts his fingers off in the woodworking shop (the dismembered digits are briefly shown). However objectionable content you may assume would be present is also missing, especially profanities. A few scatological terms, some religious expletives and racial slurs are the limit of what’s heard.
The bulk of the film (and what makes it worth viewing) is spent documenting the daring escape plan and then watching these inmates pull it off. Scrounging spoons, nail clippers and raincoats they put together a scheme that would seem ridiculously impossible – if it hadn’t actually happened.
The writers work hard to make these maximum security prisoners seem like affable men – the kind you would be happy to spend an evening with. Except for the “bad guy” whose in the slammer for an “evil” crime, each of them has an opportunity to explain the reasons behind their misdemeanors, and this justification allows us to have enough empathy for their plights to root for their successful escape. If you can overlook this manipulation, you will likely enjoy this reasonably good thriller that is considered a classic.Directed by Donald Siegel. Starring Clint Eastwood, Patrick McGoohan, Roberts Blossom. Running time: 112 minutes. Theatrical release June 22, 1979. Updated October 14, 2015
Get details on profanity, sex and violence in Escape From Alcatraz here.
Escape From Alcatraz Parents Guide
Alcatraz: Search for Truth is a 2015 documentary from The History Channel that discusses new findings, including visual evidence that suggests the Anglin brothers might have survived the escape.