15 June 2009 | susannah-straughan-1
Low-budget prison drama that wears its heart on its (striped) sleeve
Leading man Douglas Kennedy's uncanny resemblance to tough guy Robert Ryan almost makes up for the lack of star names in this watchable B-movie. Kennedy is convincing as a crusading reporter who goes under cover as a chain-gang guard to expose the brutality of the penal system. Brandishing his high-tech (for the time) camera disguised as a cigarette lighter, he tries to conceal his bleeding heart liberal credentials secret from his oafish colleagues as he posts a series of shocking exposes.
The film's brief running time doesn't give director Lew Landers much of a chance to explore nuances of character or theme. But it's not giving anything away to say that the real villains here aren't the guys in the striped suits.
If you're a fan of this particular sub-genre of prison movies, you'll want to check out the infinitely superior Paul Muni vehicle, I Am a Fugitive From A Chain Gang.