Don Siegel, a sort of connect-the-dots director who is very good at charting a terrain or tracing a course of action, takes such a pragmatic interest in locale and procedure that he restores a certain credibility, if not freshness, to the prison movie clichés collected herein. The locale, really, is the whole point -- its walls, its watchtowers, its guards, and its icy mile-wide moat serving as the strict equivalents of Houdini's handcuffs, straitjackets, and underwater caskets. The narrative problem of how to get out of that awful place is laid out as teasingly as in a classical John Dickson Carr locked-room mystery, although it is approached from a different (i.e., criminal) point of view. Extremely grim, tense, tough. With Clint Eastwood and Patrick McGoohan. (1979) — Duncan Shepherd
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