Monday, December 31, 2012

Last blog of 2012!

Escape From Alcatraz
Director: Don Siegel
Cast: Clint Eastwood, Patrick McGoohan, Fred Ward, Larry Hankin
Released: June 22, 1979



If you're like me and love the movie, The Shawshank Redemption; the book, Watership Down; and the TV show, Prison Break (well, at least the first season), chances are, you will like this movie as well. It's based on the true story of Frank Morris, one of three men to have escaped from Alcatraz, probably the most famous prison in America and one of San Francisco's most well-known sites. I had an amusing conversation with my mom about this movie:

Me: Have you ever seen Escape from Alcatraz?
My mom: Is that the one with Nicolas Cage?
Me: No, you're thinking of The Rock.

Well, I thought it was amusing! Come to think of it, The Rock was my first introduction of Alcatraz. And probably my first introduction to Michael Bay, heh! I wasn't familiar with the story of Frank Morris (played by a younger-looking but still older Clint Eastwood), an inmate sent to Alcatraz because he had escaped from several other prisons. He was serving time for breaking and entering and robbery. He was said to have an IQ of 133, which is probably the reason for all his escapes...including this one.
One of the first things he is told by the warden (Patrick McGoohan) is that Alcatraz can not be broken out of and even if he did manage to escape, he would die trying to swim to the mainland from the cold.

Morris sizes up everyone at the prison. He becomes friendly with a few inmates including Old Man Marley from Home Alone (hmm, maybe Buzz was right and he did kill his entire family!) No, actually his name is Doc and he's played by Robert Blossom and his voice sounded so familiar and then I placed that he was the old scary neighbor in Home Alone who was actually a nice guy, just lonely. Let's just say in this movie he doesn't get a happy ending like he does in Home Alone when he's reunited with his family. Remember that scene in Misery that involves feet? There's a scene like that in this movie, only it involves fingers and Kathy Bates isn't in the scene!

Morris also befriends John and and Clarence Anglin who are brothers and Charlie Butts, his cell neighbor. Morris knew the brothers from another prison where they first met and together the four of them come up with an elaborate plan to escape. Over several months, they chip away at the grille in their rooms with spoons which they sneaked from the kitchen. From the arts and craft department, they get material to make paper-mache heads of themselves so the guards will think they are in bed when they are actually working on their escape plan. On the night of June 11, 1962, they are ready to escape. It doesn't quite go according to plan when one of them loses the nerve to escape and sits on his bed, contemplating whether or not he should join the others who wait for him for a few minutes, but leave once it's clear he's not coming. He does finally escape from his room, but by that time it's too late because the others are long gone and he needs help to reach the window on the roof that is too high for one person to reach without help. He goes back to his room and waits for the massive outburst that will erupt in the morning when the guards will find there are three men missing. Now I was curious about the guy who didn't escape, so I went to my ever faithful source: Wikipedia. It says that the reason he didn't escape was because he couldn't remove the grille in time, but in the movie it makes it seems he doesn't escape because he's having second thoughts.

Of course everyone is searching the island and water for any sign of the three men who escaped. They found personal belongings that belonged to one of the men but didn't know if this meant that they had drowned or he left them there so that people would think they drowned. They never found any bodies, but there's no evidence to indicate that they were ever found alive, so it's believed that the men probably drowned. You think if they were still alive, they would have come out by now and bragged that they escaped from Alcatraz! Frank Morris would be 86 today if he were still alive, so if he did make it out alive, it's possible he could still be alive today. And, really, would they throw an 86 year old man back in jail if he came forward and confessed that he was Frank Morris? But he most likely died that June night fifty and a half years ago.

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