Paramount Pictures | Release Date: June 22, 1979 CRITIC SCORE DISTRIBUTION
Generally favorable reviews based on 9 Critic Reviews
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The major reason for Escape's success is Siegel's effortless expertise in re-creating the atmosphere of Alcatraz, an atmosphere in which, as the Warden says, good citizens were not made, but good prisoners were. As photographed by Bruce Surtees in rainy black and blue, the dogged, slow-motion swim through excelsior that constitutes prison existence is painfully and convincingly reproduced. For Eastwood, there is an extra bonus: if the milieu doesn't provide him with a reason for his stubbornly characteristic grimness, it does at least provide an excuse. [23 June 1979]
NewsweekCharles Michener
Beautifully served by Eastwood's self-containment, which is less granitelike than usual (he has a soft spot for that mouse), Siegel sets these various escapes ticking like a time bomb. [22 July 1979, p.67]
VarietyStaff (Not Credited)
Screenwriter Richard Tuggle and director Don Siegel provide a model of super-efficient filmmaking. From the moment Clint Eastwood walks onto The Rock to the final title card explaining the three escapees were never heard from again, Escape from Alcatraz is relentless in establishing a mood and pace of unrelieved tension.
It's a half-baked stopover in the big house, relying on Eastwood, rather than a particular prison theme, for focus and continuity. For better and worse, Eastwood's peculiarly intimidating personality - solitary, sarcastic, fearless - has become its own predominant, suggestive theme. Escape From Alcatraz is poorly orchestrated, but the Eastwood melody still comes through, laconic and clear. [22 June 1979, p.C1]