Brute Force (1947)
Time sure passes slowly in prison!
10 June 2007
Everyone seems to have covered most of the bases on this one, but I'd like to add that Brute Force, despite its many fine qualities, must be the slowest and talkiest prison drama ever made. Whole life sentences seem to pass by without a hint of action, though the three violent set-piece sequences are shockingly well done.

Politically, I can't agree with one erudite and entertaining contributor's claim that it's a Stalinist allegory. Uncle Joe would have packed its makers off to jail themselves for the sin of bourgeois pessimism, not to mention for making a hero of a criminal, a member of the parasitical lumpen-proletariat.

Romantic existentialist gloom is more its line, along with similarly doom-laden and vaguely left-wing period gems such as Gun Crazy (alias Deadly Is The Female) and The Lady From Shanghai. If you want a truly Marxist 1940s film allegory, try Abraham Polonsky's magnificent Force Of Evil, if a film so politically transparent can be called an allegory at all.

I wonder if this defiantly uncommercial film sold many tickets on release? If it was even a minor hit, that would suggest some interesting differences between 1947's audiences and today's.
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