Brute Force is a film as brutal as its name suggests. The movie features a star-studded cast, including Hume Cronyn, in the most unlikely of parts – as an enforcer for a prison warden.
In many prison pictures, the warden represents the ultimate meanie. However, in this one, he’s a milquetoast compared to Cronyn’s character, Captain Munsey.
Cronyn convincingly shows how even a little man can become a big tyrant when circumstances allow.
Burt Lancaster plays the stubborn inmate, Joe Collins, who refuses to bow down quietly to Munsey. He plans an escape so reminiscent of The Shawshank Redemption, I wondered if the Stephen King short story from which that movie was adapted had been inspired at all by this film. Or, perhaps, the adaptation itself.
Lancaster is forced to make the tough choices, when confronted with the inevitable roadblocks to his plan. Nonetheless, Lancaster thrusts his jaw forward and toughs it out.
The film clearly draws parallels between the brutal prison and the Nazi regime. It also nearly hits viewers on the head with its message of the utter futility of existence or doing the right thing (whatever that may be).
In that respect, Brute Force was a groundbreaking movie for its time. A suspenseful and violent crime story that makes you think.
I judge that this film richly deserves two thumbs up!