The Prisoner (1955) **** Blu-Ray

March 2nd, 2019
Author: Meredith Taylor

Dir: Peter Glenville | Wri: Bridget Boland | Cast: Jack Hawkins, Alec Guinness | UK, Drama 95′

Jack Hawkins and Alec Guinness are the dynamite duo driving this intellectually daring and morally complex thriller forward. With its themes of pride and betrayal, The Prisoner is based on Irish Catholic novelist Bridget Boland’s play of the same name, embellished by a rousing minor love story that bubbles along under the surface of its main plot line involving an inquisition between Guinness’s ‘Cardinal’ and Jack Hawkins ‘Interrogator’ that takes place in solitary confinement in an unspecified totalitarian Eastern European country under siege. The outdoor scenes are pure social realism, but the interiors benefit from John Hawkesworth’s elegant set design. Guinness exudes a peerless subtlety as the breathtakingly sinuous man of God interrogated, tortured and broken – with equal finesse – by a charismatic Jack Hawkins. Benjamin Frankel’s sinister occasional score compliments the slow-burning narrative directed with stylish aplomb by Peter Glenville (Becket, Term of Trial) and photographed by DoP Reginald H Wyer in velvety black and white. This is a fine British film ripe for rediscovery. MT


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