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Prisoners in films have one thing on their minds when they’re incarcerated: how to break the binding chains that confine them.

In this course, we discuss and view five films which define man’s need to be free at any cost.

  • Feb 27: Brute Force (1947, dir. Jules Dassin)
    Disgruntled prisoners plan a daring, bloody escape while on a drain pipe detail. Stars Burt Lancaster, Hume Cronyn and Yvonne DeCarlo.
  • Mar 6: The Defiant Ones (1958, dir. Stanley Kramer)
    Two convicts, John (Tony Curtis) and Noah (Sidney Poitier), each other’s worst enemy, escape chained to each other.
  • Mar 13: The Great Escape (1963, Dir John Sturges)
    The Nazis relocate allied prisoners to a high-security "escape-proof" camp to sit out the remainder of the war. Undaunted, the prisoners plan one of the most ambitious escape attempts of World War II. Based on a true story. Stars Steve McQueen, James Garner, James Coburn and Richard Attenborough.
  • Mar 20: Papillon (1973, Franklin J. Schaffner)
    Henri "Papillon" Charierre (Steve McQueen) is sentenced to life in prison and transported to the penal in French Guyana. The conditions at the penal colony are horrific and Papillon desperately attempts escape many times. While there, Henri meets Louis Dega, (Dustin Hoffman), a forger. They form a bond that lasts a lifetime.
  • Mar 27: The Shawshank Redemption (1994, Frank Durabont)
    After the murder of his wife and her lover, banker Andrew Dufresne (Tim Robbins) is sent to Shawshank Prison, and gains the respect of his fellow inmates, especially longtime convict "Red" Redding (Morgan Freeman), a black marketeer, and eventually becomes influential within the prison.

Subscribe and Save! These events can be purchased together as part of the following subscription: Break Out: The Cinematic Prison Break Film.


Brief Bio

Philip Harwood currently lectures at 92nd Street Y and LIU: C.W. Post. He was the coordinator for Lifelong Learning at Queens College, where he also coordinated the annual Summer Film Festival. He is also a published author.

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