Escape from Alcatraz Is Thrilling On 4K Ultra HD

Clint Eastwood in Escape from Alcatraz. Courtesy of Paramount.

Escape from Alcatraz–the fifth and final collaboration between director Don Siegel and actor Clint Eastwood–is available on 4K UHD.

Kino Lorber Studio Classics released the film on 4K UHD back in November. Unfortunately, my November was very busy because of awards season. As such, I finally watched the film this week. Better late than never!

In 1962, three prisoners burrowed their way to the roof and jumped into the bay. It’s an idea that would make for quite the thrilling drama. In any event, Frank Morris (Clint Eastwood) arrives to the maximum security prison in 1960, where he covertly steals a nail clipper while the warden (Patrick McGoohan) informs him that no inmate has successfully broken out of the place. Morris also makes friends with a number of his fellow inmates. Things happen but start progressing after Morris notices old prison friends John (Fred Ward) and Clarence Anglin (Jack Thibeau). Add Charley Butts (Larry Hankin) into the mix and plans really start moving along. Over months, they make shovels out of spoons, construct dummies, and turn raincoats into a raft.

Morris, the Anglins, and Butts decide that it is time to make their escape but then Butts changes his mind. He eventually comes to the decision to escape with them but it’s too late. A huge manhunt gets underway and while they find some items floating in the bay, they never find any of the prisoners and the prison shuts down a year later.

Screenwriter Richard Tuggle places an emphasis on the wind, sound, and darkness. Alcatraz is certainly as much of a character as any humans in the film. If not for going on a tour, he’d probably have never written a script. Of course, he saw a book by J. Campbell Bruce at a newsstand and the rest is history. The publishing company held the film rights but the novelist was fine with Tuggle taking it on and then the rights were reverted back to the author. Funny that they never thought it would sell!

It’s certainly amazing to think about how many things had to happen in order for Richard Tuggle’s script to become a film. He had to find the book at a newsstand and then get the film rights. After the publisher reverted the rights back, Don Siegel had to first express an interest and then also know Clint Eastwood. What’s even funnier about the entire thing is that Paramount had initially passed but they distributed the film anyway. But at the end of the day, if Don Siegel did not want to make a film about a prison, it never would have happened. Of course, the film also led to a rift between both Siegel and Eastwood.

While the film implies their survival, none of the men have ever been found. Meanwhile, the FBI would later close their case a few months after the film came out. Meanwhile, the three men are still wanted by the U.S. Marshals Service and their warrant will expire in 2030.

As with any film based on a true story, there are some inaccuracies. Alcatraz had two wardens during this time. You wouldn’t know it from watching the film but Blackwell replaced Madigan as warden in 1961. In this film, it’s the unnamed warden service in the position for the entire film. Meanwhile, an incident with someone’s fingers getting chopped off did happen but back in 1937 and not when the film takes place.

Escape from Alcatraz remains a timeless thriller over 40 years after its release and makes great use of its setting.

Bonus Features


  • HDR/Dolby Vision Master by Paramount Pictures – From a 4K Scan of the Original Camera Negative
  • NEW Audio Commentary by Film Historians Steve Mitchell and Nathaniel Thompson
  • 5.1 Surround and Lossless 2.0 Stereo
  • Triple-Layered UHD100 Disc
  • Optional English Subtitles

DISC 2 (Blu-ray):

  • HD Master by Paramount Pictures – From a 4K Scan of the Original Camera Negative
  • NEW Audio Commentary by Film Historians Steve Mitchell and Nathaniel Thompson
  • THE GHOSTS OF ALCATRAZ: NEW Interview with Screenwriter Richard Tuggle
  • TALES FROM THE CELLBLOCK: NEW Interview with Actor Larry Hankin
  • Theatrical Trailer (Newly Remastered in 2K)
  • Dual-Layered BD50 Disc
  • Optional English Subtitles

DIRECTOR: Don Siegel
CAST: Clint Eastwood, Patrick McGoohan, Roberts Blossom, Jack Thibeau, Fred Ward, Paul Benjamin, Larry Hankin

Paramount released Escape from Alcatraz in theaters on June 22, 1979. Grade: 4/5

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Danielle Solzman

Danielle Solzman is native of Louisville, KY, and holds a BA in Public Relations from Northern Kentucky University and a MA in Media Communications from Webster University. She roots for her beloved Kentucky Wildcats, St. Louis Cardinals, Indianapolis Colts, and Boston Celtics. Living less than a mile away from Wrigley Field in Chicago, she is an active reader (sports/entertainment/history/biographies/select fiction) and involved with the Chicago improv scene. She also sees many movies and reviews them. She has previously written for Redbird Rants, Wildcat Blue Nation, and Hidden Remote/Flicksided. From April 2016 through May 2017, her film reviews can be found on Creators.