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Trailers from Hell Starts a 'Riot in Cell Block 11'

Photo of Trailers From Hell By Trailers From Hell | Thompson on Hollywood April 30, 2014 at 11:17AM

Today on Trailers from Hell, director Joe Dante talks up 1954's prison-based drama "Riot in Cell Block 11," starring Neville Brand and Frank Faylen.
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'Riot in Cell Block 11'
'Riot in Cell Block 11'

Today on Trailers from Hell, director Joe Dante talks up 1954's prison-based drama "Riot in Cell Block 11," starring Neville Brand and Frank Faylen.

An intelligent, well-acted “message” melodrama hides behind that hard-nosed title. Directed by Don Siegel at his most primal, the film’s violence erupts in compelling contrast to the quiet intelligence of the screenplay by Richard Collins ("My Gun is Quick"). Its empathetic attitude is due in some part to veteran producer Walter Wanger whose recent stint in the slammer moved him to advocate for improved prison conditions. Starring Neville Brand as the firebrand who instigates the protests and, as “Crazy Mike Carnie”, real-life ex-con Leo Gordon, who Siegel described as “the scariest man I have ever met ” but went on to a long career as a dependable character actor. This was the beginning of Siegel’s longtime friendship with Sam Peckinpah who served as dialog director on this and several other Siegel films including "Invasion of the Body Snatchers."

This article is related to: Trailers, Trailers from Hell, Trailers


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Born and raised in Manhattan, Anne Thompson grew up going to the Thalia and The New Yorker and wound up at grad Cinema Studies at NYU. She worked at United Artists and Film Comment before heading west as that magazine's west coast editor. She wrote for the LA Weekly, Sight and Sound, Empire, The New York Times and Entertainment Weekly before serving as West Coast Editor of Premiere. She wrote for The Washington Post, The London Observer, Wired, More, and Vanity Fair, and did staff stints at The Hollywood Reporter and Variety. She eventually took her blog Thompson on Hollywood to Indiewire. She taught film criticism at USC Critical Studies, and continues to host the fall semester of “Sneak Previews” for UCLA Extension.