Brute Force

  • Directed by Jules Dassin
  • United States, 1947, 98 mins., English

“Soon-to-be-blacklisted director Jules Dassin’s excoriating and angry prison drama uses the ‘big cage’ as a metaphor for the lost innocence and spiritual malignancy of post-WWII America. One in a series of ’40s films haunted by talismanic portraits of women, BRUTE FORCE uses a dreamy calendar model as the inspiration for a series of flashbacks that reveal Lancaster and his fellow cellmates to be united by bad luck, bad timing, and impossible love. Lancaster’s mournful yearning turns to embittered rage when a carefully planned breakout pits him against the messianic and warped ego of the Napoleonic prison warden, made viciously real by the brilliant Hume Cronyn. During the film’s furious, fiery climax of man against machine, Lancaster’s expressive use of his body is harrowing and perhaps unsurpassed in his entire career.”—Harvard Film Archive.

Appears in: Forever Burt

Genres: Crime, Drama, Film Noir

Other Films by Jules Dassin


Thieves’ Highway

WWII vet Nick Garcos (Richard Conte) returns to San Francisco, intending to go into the apple business with his father. But when he discovers that his old man lost his legs in a trucking accident, Nick is forced to partner up with Ed (Millard Mitchell). Following another accident, however, Nick senses something amiss and that