In this week’s totally nonessential news (well maybe for you, but not for me) comes word that Shout Factory will release the 1973 United Artists film, I Escaped From Devil’s Island, starring the hardcore definition of black masculinity, the one and only Jim Brown, on blu-ray DVD on July 15.
The title of the film, set in 1916, tells the story in which Brown leads a group of fellow prisoners with a plan to escape from the infamous and brutal French penal colony Devil’s Island, which was located on an island off the coast of French Guiana in South America. (The French government closed the prison in the early 1950’s)
The story behind the film is a little interesting, in that, the big film that everyone was waiting for during the Christmas season of 1973, was the big budget extravaganza Papillon with Steve McQueen (the actor, of course, not the director) and Dustin Hoffman, and which was based on the huge international best-selling autobiography by Herni Charriere, about his experiences and eventual escape from the penal colony (Though several had claimed at the time that the book was more fiction than fact).
So along came legendary B movie producer Roger Corman and his producer brother Gene, who saw that there was going to be a Devil’s Island frenzy when Papillon came out, and decided to capitalize on it and make a cheap, quick knock-off in Mexico to cash in. However, they were too efficient and quick, and I Escaped From Devil's Island actually came out, not after Papillon was released, but three months before the film came out.
Now to be completely honest, I Escaped is not a great film by any means. It is what it is - a low budget, scrappy B movie. But according to Leonard Maltin in his annual Movie Guide review books, the film is "violent and vulgar" and it stars Jim Brown. So as far as I’m concerned, that’s as good as a four star review.
Here a film clip from the movie: