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Brute Force (Blu-ray) Criterion


As hard-hitting as its title, Brute Force was one of Jules Dassin’s first forays into the crime genre, a prison melodrama with a scathing critique of the punitive American incarceration system at its heart. Burt Lancaster is the timeworn Joe Collins, who, along with his fellow inmates, lives under the heavy thumb of the sadistic, power-tripping guard Captain Munsey (a riveting Hume Cronyn). Only Collins’s dreams of escape keep him going, but how can he possibly bust out of Munsey’s chains? Matter-of-fact and ferocious, Brute Force builds to an explosive climax that shows the lengths men will go to when fighting for their freedom, and asks the question of who society’s real brutes are.

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Special Features

On the Blu-ray: New 4K digital restoration by TLEFilms Film Restoration & Preservation Services, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack
On the DVD: Restored high-definition digital transfer
Audio commentary from 2007 featuring film-noir specialists Alain Silver and James Ursini
Interview from 2007 with Paul Mason, editor of Captured by the Media: Prison Discourse in Popular Culture
Program from 2017 on Brute Force’s array of acting styles featuring film scholar David Bordwell (Blu-ray only)
Stills gallery
English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing
PLUS: An essay by film critic Michael Atkinson, a 1947 profile of producer Mark Hellinger, and rare correspondence between Hellinger and Production Code administrator Joseph Breen over the film’s content