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By Jeff Shannon

Through solid dramatic impact and global exposure on cable TV, Brubaker gradually joined the ranks of all-time best prison movies. While preparing to direct Ordinary People, Robert Redford brought his considerable star power to bear on his title role as a prison reform warden, in an unnamed Southern state, who poses as an inmate to expose corruption, violence, and administrative abuse in Wakefield, a prison farm where trustee inmates are armed and encouraged to shoot at would-be escapees. Originally developed for director Bob Rafelson and ultimately filmed by Stuart Rosenberg, this rugged exercise in social commentary has undeniable power, even if some its characters--including Redford's--seem more like stick-figure ethicists than real human beings. It's also got a dynamite supporting cast including Yaphet Kotto, Jane Alexander, and Morgan Freeman in one of his earliest films. Bolstered by his Oscar-winning directorial debut, Redford didn't star in another film until The Natural ended his four-year hiatus.


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"I really loved this film when it came out and I still gravitate towards it when it's screened on TV. Redford gives one of his finer performances in his leading role as the Warden. Witness too an early performance of the fabulous Morgan Freeman who impressed me so much then, that I noted his name! A well-paced, well-directed movie of the prison genre, with an emotive and satisfying conclusion."

--Tracy Francis



Buy this VHS movie from! (Click here!)Buy this DVD from! (Click here!)Soundtrack unavailable at - try eBay (see links below)Rated RNot on an American Film Institute 100 list

Director: Stuart Rosenberg

Stars: Robert Redford, Yaphet Kotto, Jane Alexander, Murray Hamilton, David Keith, Morgan Freeman, Matt Clark, Tim McIntire, Linda Haynes, M. Emmet Walsh, Albert Salmi, Wilford Brimley

Released: June 20, 1980

Availability: DVD VHS

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