The Warner Archive DVD release of the 1958 jailhouse drama "Revolt in the Big House" rocks for reasons that include it being part of a series of Archive releases that feature Little Rascal turned '70s TV private eye Robert Blake. The wonderful noir vibe in this black-and-white film begins with a long anticipated capture of crime boss Lou Gannon.
The following spoiler-laden clip, courtesy of YouTube and Archive, of scenes from "Revolt" provide a good sense of the intensity and overall vibe of the film.
One spoiler is that none of the depictions of the brutal life in a men's prison involve using axle grease and a pool table to simultaneously physically and psychologically injure another.
"Revolt" further has a malicious and corrupt guard; however, that character cannot compare to the over-the-top brutal performance that Hope Emerson brings to her role as "Caged" matron Evelyn Harper.
Gannon soon find himself putting his previously acquired skills to use both in an apt prison job and allying himself with the inmates who run the particular asylum in which he finds himself staying. He also acquaints himself with teen Rudy Hernandez, who is Blake's character.
The success that Hernandez has keeping a fairly low profile and heeding the advice to stay out of trouble ends when Gannon forces him to actively participate in a planned prison break that plays a role regarding the titular uprising. This cynical message regarding the futility of trying to quietly do your time significantly contributes to the impact of "Revolt."
Much of the suspense and drama related to all stems from the smuggling in of the necessary "tools" for the escape. One scene in particular involves near certainty that the guards will discover the plot.
The clear signs that "Revolt" is a "post Code" release include both an ultimate ending that delivers justice and a strong message regarding the price for actively defying authority.
The final sentence (in both senses of the word) regarding this film is that it nicely combines aspects of a prison drama with more generic noir elements.
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