Synopsis

When the new warden comes in disguised as an inmate, he sees firsthand all the corruption and scams the guards and prison officials are running. When he reveals himself and starts to implement reforms to stop the corruption, the local business community, who had been benefiting from the scams, fights back, and the corrupt prison system starts making political trouble for the new warden.

Director

Stuart Rosenberg

Cast

Robert Redford
as Henry Brubaker
Yaphet Kotto
as Richard 'Dickie' Coombes
Jane Alexander
as Lillian Gray
Murray Hamilton
as John Deach
David Keith
as Larry Lee Bullen
Matt Clark
as Roy Purcell

Movie Reviews

Reviewed by dbridges7 N/A

Personal Comments

My belated two cents worth: The movie is based on the book, "Accomplises to the Crime: The Arkansas Prison Scandal," by Tom Murton. Tom was my roommate at Oklahoma A&M (now OK State U). I have discussed the film with Tom and read official State Police reports of the information on which the story dwells. The first few minutes when Robert Redford goes into the prison incognito was a device to inform the audience of conditions. The remainder of the film is factual, although embellished at points for audience interest. Redford did an outstanding performance representing Murton. At times I could almost believe that it was Murton standing there! Murton was advised by Governor Rockefeller that he had 48 hours to leave Arkansas or be charged with grave robbing. Official reason: lack of qualifications. How much does it take to qualify? Murton got a BS in Agriculture at A&M, and a Dr of Criminology at U Cal, Berkeley, was a Dept Marshal and had 20 years experience in corrections. Murton kept his sense of humor, keeping count of applications declined (he was "too controversial") for similar work (43 at last count), and remarked that one day another system would be so corrupt to demand his services. He died after teaching at Southern Illinois, U of Hawaii, and even his alma mater in Oklahoma. Waste of talent of a brilliant penologist.

Reviewed by bkoganbing 10 /10

The best prison picture ever

Though Shawshank Redemption has gotten the critical raves and the box office receipts that could make it the best prison story ever filmed, my personal choice for the best film ever done about the penal system is Brubaker.

Based on the true life experiences of Thomas Murton, the co-author of the book the film is based on, Brubaker captures the realities of prison life, the complexities of trying to "reform" the system without sacrificing one iota of entertainment.

Robert Redford leads a great ensemble cast in this film. The people here are real, dealing with complex issues for which there are no simple answers. The corruption of the penal system runs deep and helped in part by the prisoners themselves who don't want to see too much change at once or have a vested interest in seeing things run just as they are. Yaphetto Kotto and Tim McIntire are two such prison trustees, both of them showing very different reasons why they don't like some or all of what Redford is doing as warden.

Among the supporting cast, I'd like to single out David Keith who was the best as the prisoner whose life Brubaker saves and ultimately becomes his biggest booster in the joint. A really outstanding job by David Keith as this simple country kid who just got caught up in "the system."

Rare you can say a film is informative as well as entertaining, but Brubaker definitely fits in both categories.

Reviewed by mikedonovan N/A

Not a Disney feel-good

BRUBAKER is my kind of movie; grim, realistic, stimulating and a story based around a great struggle between right and wrong. Robert Redford plays Brubaker (based on the real life story of one Thomas Murton of Arkansas, not to be confused with Thomas Merton, the poet) who tries to bring decency to an Arkansas prison that is corrupt from top to bottom. There are rotten scoundrels among the prisoners and some decent men as well. What is worse, Brubaker has to fight a State bureaucracy full of characters who are even more slimy and despicable than the worst of the prisoners. Along with basic reforms, he is out to uncover a series of murders, prisoners who were murdered and secretly buried. He is really up against it and its tough not to get emotionally involved. The writing and acting is more than ok. Redford is very good in spite of being a little too pretty for the rugged guy part. He's the only one in the movie with the 300-dollar blow dry haircut. This reminds me of the movie MARIE, another flick about a single warrior battling a corrupt state system. The Grape Nuts Guy (W Brimley) and the guy who played Mrs. Robinson's husband (M Hamilton)put in a good performance as despicable bureaucrats. Very little background music is another mature plus.

A good, feel-bad movie; and as a Bostonian, it's hard to hate a film that has a character in it named Fenway Park.

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