YouTube Noir — Noirvember Day 17: Brute Force (1947)

Brute Force (1947) is not your typical film noir.

Almost entirely set inside the confines of a maximum security prison, there’re no rainswept city streets, no anti-hero detectives, and the two femmes fatales are on screen a total of about three minutes.

But you’ll be hard-pressed to find a darker film.


The film centers on a quintet of prison cellmates who are languishing in prison under the sadistic supervision of one Capt. Munsey (Hume Cronyn). They include Joe Collins (Burt Lancaster), who spearheads an intricately planned prison break, motivated by Munsey’s dehumanizing treatment, and his desire to reunite with his wheelchair-bound girlfriend.

The cellmates.


The movie was inspired by the 1946 Battle of Alcatraz, a two-day riot that resulted from an unsuccessful escape by armed convicts at the famed San Francisco prison.

The film’s score was composed by Miklos Rozsa. Listen closely to the music in Brute Force right after the credits – it’ll remind you of the Double Indemnity score, which was also composed by Rozsa.

Brute Force was directed by Jules Dassin, who also helmed such top-notch noirs as The Naked City (1948), Thieves’ Highway (1949), Night and the City (1950), and Rififi (1955).

John Decker’s “Calendar Girl.”

The cell occupied by Joe and his fellow inmates features a calendar pin-up girl who causes each of the men to reminisce about the girl they left behind. The girl was painted by John Decker, who also did the paintings used in yesterday’s YouTube noir pick, Scarlet Street (1945).


Join me for my next YouTube recommendation on Day 18 of Noirvember!

~ by shadowsandsatin on November 17, 2020.

4 Responses to “YouTube Noir — Noirvember Day 17: Brute Force (1947)”

  1. You are doing a great job advertising all these Noirs which can be viewed on You Tube!

  2. Such an excellent movie, but it is indeed so dark that I keep hesitating regarding a re-watch.

    I did not know about that connection to Scarlet Street. Very interesting. My family will be impressed.

    • Yes — it’s certainly no fun to watch, that’s for sure. And to be honest, while I feel like I’ve seen it several times, I actually rarely watch the last 20 minutes or so. It’s too much.

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