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"No one has ever escaped from Alcatraz... and no one ever will!"
The good guys are the bad guys, and the bad guys are the good guys. This is Hollywood's version of the story of, in case you couldn't tell by the title, the Great Escape from Alcatraz.
Alcatraz... The Titanic of prisons. Invincible. Unbreakable. 100% escape-proof. Fate called their bluff.
How much of the Clint Eastwood film can you trust? Well, Alcatraz really was a harsh prison off the coast of San Francisco. Frank Morris and John and Clarence Anglin really did cut the vents out of the walls in their cells using spoons and really did trick the guards using the old dummy-head-in-the-bed trick. They really did escape, leaving behind a fourth prisoner (named Alan West, not Charlie Butts), and really did disappear without a trace.
It's no wonder Hollywood had to grab this story- if any writer tried to make something like this up, they would have been told, "Get Real!"
- Air Vent Passageway
- The Alcatraz: The one and only.
- Anti-Hero: Frank Morris.
- Based on a True Story: As noted above, the portion of the film dealing with the actual escape is quite accurate.
- Building of Adventure
- Deadpan Snarker: Frank Morris. Being played by Clint Eastwood, this is practically a given.
- Determinator: You'd have to be to pull this off.
- The End - or Is It?: Did Morris and the Anglins make it or die trying?
- The film implied that the escape had been successful. It ends with the warden finding a chrysanthemum on Angel Island. He throws it into the bay after being told that they do not grow there.
- Great Escape
- The Guards Must Be Crazy: They're more complacent than anything. And it's not their fault no one did an architectural analysis of the decades-old prison to determine how being in the middle of a seawater bay is rusting out the walls...
- Hey, It's That Guy!: In one of the great casting gags of all time: Patrick McGoohan as The Warden.
- Ineffectual Sympathetic Villain: As we watch, something in our heads is screaming we shouldn't be cheering for a criminal trying to break out of prison, but we do.
- Of course, they're not ineffectual, but very sympathetic (we're never told the severity of most of the criminals' real misdeeds, and the ones we hear about like English's backstory make it seem justified in their actions). Morris is a genius-level career criminal with a knack for escaping prisons. Which is why they sent him to The Rock, where no one has ever escaped...
- Locking MacGyver in the Store Cupboard
- Never Bring a Knife to A Fist Fight: Morris asks how English wound up in "The Rock":
English: I was in a bar in Tennessee. Then these two dudes start hassling me. That was their first mistake. They pulled knifes. That was their second mistake. They didn't know how to use them. That was the last mistake they ever made.
- N-Word Privileges: Clint has 'em, but only because he and English quickly figure each other out.
- The Old Convict: English.
- Police Brutality: Downplayed. Most of the guards are just doing their jobs. If violence is shown it's to stop a fight in the yard or to discourage a con from starting a fight again.
- Subverted with The Warden. He's depicted as a sadist, especially when he revokes the painting privileges of a sweet old prisoner whom he finds out painted an unflattering portrait of him.
- Sleeping Dummy: Essential part of the escape plan.
- Shown Their Work: It's considered one of the most accurate Alcatraz movies ever made.
- Tempting Fate: The Warden, telling a genius-level, escape-artist criminal like Morris that "No one has ever escaped Alcatraz... and no one ever will!"
- The Stoic: Morris again.