Escape from Alcatraz (1979) - full transcript

The true story of three inmates who attempt a daring escape from the infamous prison, Alcatraz Island. Although no-one had managed to escape before, bank robber Frank Morris masterminded this elaborately detailed and, as far as anyone knows, ultimately successful, escape. In 29 years, this seemingly impenetrable federal penitentiary, which housed Al Capone and "Birdman" Robert Stroud, was only broken once by three inmates never heard of again.

All right, we've got to get back to the boat.
Come through here.
Strip down.
Open up.
Welcome to Alcatraz.
Inside, B and C! Count them!
- 25 on inside C, first tier. - 20, inside B, first tier.
- 23 on inside C, second tier. - 17, inside B, second tier.
Bring out, inside B and C.
You'd better button your collar, boy.
No forks...
- Hey... No forks? - You see any?
Fresh fish, do you want your pasta?
Hey! Do you want your pasta?
Do you see any?
I see pasta in my sleep.
I'm Litmus.
Like litmus paper.
When it's cold, my face gets blue. When it's hot, my face gets red.
Inside C! Move out.
Warden wants to see you.
- Name? - Morris.
That's funny.
This file says Frank Lee Morris.
If you disobey the rules of society, they send you to prison.
If you disobey the rules of the prison, they send you to us.
Alcatraz is not like any other prison in the United States.
Here, every inmate is confined alone
to an individual cell.
Unlike my predecessors, Wardens Johnston and Blackwell,
I don't have good conduct programmes or inmate councils.
Inmates here have no say in what they do. They do as they're told.
Newspapers, magazines or carrying news are not permitted.
Knowledge of the outside world is what we tell you.
From this day on
your world will be everything that happens in this building.
You will shave once a day. You will shower twice a week.
You will cut your hair once a month.
Privileges... You can talk. You can work.
Other institutions hand out work, but here it's a privilege you must earn.
I promise you, it's a privilege that you'll want.
Visitors, you're allowed two a month.
They cannot be former inmates of this or any other federal prison.
All names that you submit will be carefully checked by the F.B.I.
What names do you have in mind?
I can't think of any, offhand.
Family members?
None. No family.
Alcatraz is...
...a maximum security prison with very few privileges.
We don't make good citizens, but we make good prisoners.
Burglary, armed robbery, grand larceny...
You've escaped from quite a few prisons, haven't you?
That's why you're here.
Alcatraz was built to keep all the rotten eggs in one basket.
I was chosen to make sure that the stink from the basket doesn't escape.
A few people have tried to escape. Most of them have been recaptured.
Those that haven't have been killed or drowned in the bay.
No one has ever escaped from Alcatraz.
And no one ever will.
- Do you two go everywhere together? - Sure, even to bed together.
And when I wash, he washes. That way we sleep nice together.
I'm Wolf.
- Where did they transfer you from? - Atlanta.
Nice town, Atlanta.
I never saw it.
I'm looking for a new punk.
Good luck.
You don't understand. I just found her.
Why don't you show her what you can do?
Morris, I need somebody in the library.
- Yes, Captain. - Move!
- What do you want, boy? - Bull sent me down here to work.
Can you read, boy?
As long as it's in the English language, boy.
Do you treat them all like Wolf?
Wolf wanted to get friendly. I didn't.
You'll take that cart to the cells.
Don't they let cons down here?
- Do you see any chairs? - How come?
'Cause this is the Rock, man.
They want you doing anything here but time.
Hard, freaking time.
The Rock affects dudes differently.
It either brings out your strength or it breaks you.
What'd it do for you?
- What happens when you get out? - I won't.
Ten years ago
I was in this bar in Alabama, when two dudes started hassling me.
That was their first mistake.
They pulled knives. That was their second mistake.
They didn't know how to use them. That was the last mistake they ever made.
I got two 99 year sentences. Back to back.
Seems like you could have pleaded self-defense.
The dudes were white, man. Just like you.
When I arrived here, they put me in one of those dark cells in D block.
After a while I went stir-crazy. Slashed my Achilles tendon to get out.
You'll see why, when you see D block.
Tell me something. Are you through killing white guys?
- Why? - Oh, I don't know...
I just figured, maybe next time, I wouldn't turn my back on you.
- What's your name, man? - Frank. What's yours?
- English. - See you later.
- Your name? - Morris.
- Magazine or a book? - Where's English?
What did they do? Give a nigger a nigger of his own?
Hi, I'm Bugsy.
- Magazine or book? - Thanks.
- You're new. - Yeah.
Wait a minute! I haven't seen a new guy in six months.
It's nice to talk to people. How are the Brooklyn Dodgers doing?
- They moved to L.A. two years ago. - Are you kidding?
Warden don't allow books in these cells.
How come?
There's no light in them.
You better deliver them books, Morris, where they can be read.
- What's the flower? - That's something inside me
that they can't lock up with their bars and walls.
I'm Doc.
- Do you ever paint? - No.
Why not?
Are you scared of dying?
- I don't think so. - You'd better be.
You hurt Wolf. Wolf's going to hurt you.
Where are you going, Cracker?
Something special about those steps?
The higher you sit, the more status you've got.
We play King of the Mountain, except here we don't play for fun.
- And you're king? - Yeah.
I figure there's two reasons why you didn't sit down on my step.
Either you're too scared, or you just hate niggers.
Now, which is it, boy? You too scared?
I just hate niggers.
So no one's ever busted out?
No one's ever made it.
Everyone here has looked for a way out, but there ain't any.
See those hacks?
Most joints have one hack for every seven cons.
There's one hack for every three cons here.
If you start shitting at night instead of in the morning, they want to know why.
But let's say you're going to try it anyway.
First, you've got to get out of the cell.
Each bar has six hard smaller bars set in a steel tube
with extra steel poured in.
And there ain't no way to tunnel out either.
This island is solid rock.
See that water?
There's over a mile's swim to land. And the currents make it seem like 10.
And the water's so cold it will numb your arms in a matter of minutes.
And even if you are a good swimmer, you won't have the time to make it.
There are 12 counts every day.
Sometimes I think that's all this shithole is.
One long count.
We count the hours, the bulls count us,
and the king bulls count the counts.
Inside! Everybody in!
I'm assigning you a permanent job.
The carpentry shop. It's a paying job.
- How much? - 15 cents an hour.
- I always knew crime would pay. - It's a job.
See you later.
I slept lousy last night. But I sniff the glue. It helps pass the nights.
- What if they shake down your cell? - I go to the hole. It's worth the chance.
I guess anything you want bad enough is worth the chance.
Including busting out?
Maybe there's a way out. It's on top of your head.
The ventilator shafts on top of our block.
- How do you get on top of the block? - Ask the bull for the key.
Hey, you jive dude! Where are you going?
Summer's coming on. It's getting cooler.
The weather here's as crazy as the Rock. Maybe crazier.
Mark Twain wrote that the coldest winter he ever spent
was a summer in San Francisco. I can...
- Wolf's coming at you. - Is his hand cupped?
It is.
- Which one? - His right.
Break off!
Drop it, Wolf!
Drop it, Wolf.
Do you like D block, Wolf? Well, you'd better.
'Cause you're going to rot in there for a long time.
D block, Morris.
- He came at me. - I said D block.
- When I get out of here, you're dead. - You may be dead before you get out.
Warden don't like inmates fighting.
He don't like them stinking up their cells, either.
Lights out!
You're going back to your cell.
Welcome to Alcatraz.
- Is anybody over there? - Yeah, me.
- Come on up front, say hello. - I'm busy.
How busy can you be in one of these closets?
Don't worry, I washed it.
How are you doing, neighbour? I'm Charley Butts.
- Smallest cell I've ever been in. - You'll get used to it.
I don't think so. I don't like living alone in one of these cells.
You'll get used to that, too.
Yard time!
Button the collar, too.
- Who's the new fish? - I've got him in next to me.
- What's your name, kid? - Charley Butts.
- Charley's butt? - Butts. Butts. Charley Butts.
You've got a funny frigging name.
- What's your name? - Al Capone.
- I thought you were dead. - I've got too much money, I'll never die.
- Say... You play poker? - Not much.
I just learned myself. We'll play tomorrow. See you later, kid.
See you later, Al.
- I don't believe I just met Al Capone. - I don't either.
I'm Doc.
- Charley Butts. - How's the painting going?
The one of the Warden? It's nearly finished.
- Are you painting the Warden? - Very inspiring.
Inside! Everybody in!
Yes, sir?
I want painting privileges taken away from Chester Dalton.
- Doc? - Cell 233.
- What's the reason? - You're the deputy warden.
You think of one.
- When is the suspension to begin? - Not suspension. Elimination.
- Right away. - Yes, sir.
Your painting privileges have been removed.
- Why? - I don't know.
Painting's all I have!
I'm sorry, Doc.
You okay, Doc?
I think there's something wrong with him.
If I were you, I'd keep my eye on Doc. He seems pretty upset.
Cons are always upset about something. Put your overalls on.
Mr Zimmerman.
I'm making a new table, I need a hatchet.
Bob! Get Doc a hatchet.
Mr Zimmerman!
Will you come over here for a minute?
Get him out of here! Get him out!
Take him out of here. Get him out!
Get back to work!
Let's go. Move!
Everybody, back to work! Let's go!
Here. Put that in your report.
What were you doing back there?
- How about a magazine? - Why not?
What do you want?
I've got Boy's Life. I know some queens who fight over it every month.
Just give me what you've got on top, there.
I heard about Doc.
And I know why he did it.
Somebody took away his painting privileges.
The Warden.
I hear there was a slight accident in one of the shops.
Accident? Oh, you mean Doc.
Someone didn't like his paintings, so he didn't let him paint any more.
Someone should have warned Doc to be careful about what he painted.
You're right. There's always a possibility that some asshole will be offended.
- Isn't there? - We all have to be careful.
Back in line.
How is it going, Frank?
Well, well... If it isn't the Anglins.
- Are you just dropping by? - We thought we'd pay you a visit.
- Are you going to stay long? - No, not long.
- Only 15 or 20 years. - Why the Rock?
We were going over the wall in Atlanta when we encountered a problem.
- Such as? - They saw us.
- That does present a problem. - They shipped us to Leavenworth.
We didn't like their accommodations either.
Warden said he knew just the place for us. Alcatraz.
Is it true no one's ever bust out of here?
So they tell me.
Jesus... Wonder what I'd be like after 15 years here.
- You still reading that Bible? - It's opening up new doors.
I turn 35 today. Some birthday...
- When's your birthday? - I don't know.
- What kind of childhood did you have? - Short.
I always wanted to see San Francisco. I never thought it would be like this.
What did you get sent to the Rock for?
A couple of years ago, I started stealing cars.
Sometimes I'd strip them and sell the parts. Got sent to the State Pen.
- Did you end up in Alcatraz for that? - Not exactly.
There was a bull there that pushed me around, so when I got out I stole his car.
Unfortunately, I drove across the state line, which made it a federal rap.
The bull saw to it that I was sent to the Rock.
English! Visitor for you.
Butts. You've got a visitor.
- Me? - Yeah, you.
Probably somebody who wants their car back.
Hello, father.
Why didn't you tell me you were coming?
I was afraid you wouldn't let me.
It's just hard to see you like this.
Your momma's going to die.
- When? - Well, she's got a few months.
- Can you call her? - We can't make any phone calls.
It's not allowed to discuss the rules of the prison. Stick to your personal life.
This is my personal life. Do you get a kick out of it?
Hello? Hello!
I love you, Charley.
- Frank? - Yeah.
If you ever try to get out of here, I want in.
- Must be Wednesday. - Why?
Mystery mounds. We always have mystery mounds on Wednesday.
I can't taste it. I just eat out of habit.
- What's the movie this weekend? - Some cowboy piece of shit.
Hey! At least they could show us a gangster movie.
I may have found a way out of here.
You looking at something?
The way I figure it, this cell block is really getting old.
The moist air is corroding the concrete, and the salt is rusting the metal.
I took a nail clipper. I dug around the grille in the back of the cell.
With some work I can dig that grille out of there, enlarge the hole
and get into the utility corridor, that might lead to the roof.
How will we hide the hole while we're working on it?
We can tear the ads out of magazines and make cardboard out of them.
Paint grilles on that and put it back in the hole.
Maybe partially obscure it with a towel or a bathrobe or whatever.
I've ordered an accordion, which I'm going to put in front of my hole.
If we get out of the cell house, they'll know we're gone at the next count.
We'll leave at night. That way, they won't know 'til the morning.
We have to make dummy heads out of plaster, cardboard or whatever.
Put them in the bunks, and the guards won't know.
You work in the barber shop. You can get the hair.
- How do we get across the bay? - You work in the clothing shop.
You're going to steal some raincoats and some contact cement.
We'll make life rafts and life preservers. I read about it in Popular Mechanics.
They're going to think we go to Frisco.
We won't. We'll go to Angel Island instead.
What about me?
You'll stand guard while I dig. I'll stand guard while you dig.
You two trade off the same way.
- What are our chances? - Slim.
- I'm in. - Me, too.
I want to go.
- Charley. - Yeah.
I'm going to start digging, so keep an eye out for the bulls.
If you see one coming, you start whistling.
- How's it going? - Fair.
Whoever named this place the Rock wasn't kidding.
Working with those nail clippers just doesn't have any grip.
Hey, guard.
Can I exchange this spoon? Looks like it's been sticking in someone's ass.
And I want to ask about working in the kitchen.
- Go ahead. - Thank you.
- I want to join the kitchen detail. - Can you cook?
- Can I turn this spoon in for another? - You're goddamn right, I can cook!
I used to be a cook in a cafe in Georgia. Everybody loved my meatballs.
- Did you quit or get fired? - Neither. I robbed the cafe.
- Heard you had a visitor. - My daughter. She's getting married.
He's white. Just like you.
- Want a magazine? - Yeah. What do you recommend?
Hey, English...
Is it possible to weld two pieces of metal together, here in the cell?
For digging or sticking?
It ain't easy, but I could show you. Planning on going somewhere?
There hasn't been a day that I've been here, that I didn't think of busting out.
If I'd known, when I slashed my tendon, I'd have slashed my throat instead.
- Hey, Litmus. Can you get me a dime? - No problem.
- Cost you 10 desserts. - I need it tonight.
No problem. Cost you extra five.
If you get me a dime, I'll toss in 10 beetles for your mouse.
Hey, Frank. What's burning?
If you see one of those bulls coming, you just start whistling.
Hey, Spoof. What's for breakfast?
I smell something burning.
I don't smell anything.
It must be in my imagination. Working nights gets to you after a while.
You ought to try it from my side.
Keep an eye out, he may be back.
Do you think the grille's welded on two hook anchors?
If I get a wedge from the carpentry shop
I may be able to knock them loose.
This might just be what I'm looking for.
- It won't get through the metal detector. - I know.
- Morris, hold it. - I made it for a clothes peg.
- Why the metal over the edge? - So the clothes would slide off easy.
I don't believe you.
I didn't try to hide it. Why would I try to take metal through a metal detector?
Because you're stupid.
Move it.
Open up 107.
What did you order this stuff for? You don't look like the painting type.
You wouldn't know talent if it looked you in the face.
I'm looking you in the face, and I don't see jack shit.
Hair. Your color.
Paint. One of them's flesh colored.
- What are you painting? - I don't know. The ocean, maybe.
If you're using flesh colored paint, you'd better paint a portrait.
- Morris go to sleep early tonight? - Yeah. He wasn't feeling well.
He must sleep pretty soundly. He hasn't moved.
Yeah. What's up?
I went up on top last night.
I saw the ventilator shaft to the roof.
I can't reach it, I might need a boost.
- How are you all coming? - My dummy's ready.
The hole's done. I'm just starting the dummy.
I ain't doing too good.
Tonight, John and I'll go up.
Can you get the raincoats? We might as well start hauling them up.
I'll wear one back from the shop each day.
There's a different hack in the afternoon. He'll think I wore it to work.
- Can you get that contact cement? - I keep inventory.
Give me a boost.
The bars feel pretty solid.
Seems to be a metal hood riveted onto iron uprights.
We can spread the bars with a pipe, and knock the hood off.
There's an electrical outlet here.
If we could get a motor and a drill bit, a flashlight, we'd have it all.
Where's the nearest hardware store?
Could you get me an extension cord and a drill bit out of the shop?
If they find out, I go to the hole.
All right. But from now on, you put your desserts onto my tray.
Time's up! Back to the cells.
Damn it! Just when I thought we was doing good.
I can use this.
Are you crazy?
Hold it, Morris!
I want to take a look at one of those cases.
Try this one.
Let's open it up.
I stole this pen light from the Doc.
Give me a boost.
Okay... Hand me the drill.
It's all through.
Hey! 50 millimeter guns.
I'm worried about the shakedowns. My cardboard grille keeps slipping out.
Put some contact cement around the edges. That should take care of it.
How's the rafts and the life jackets coming?
Okay. I think they'll be done Tuesday.
Tuesday night we go.
- What's that for? - I was just thinking about Doc.
We planted those chrysanthemums 15 years ago.
They meant a lot to Doc. To me, too.
- I had a garden once. - What did you grow? Weeds?
It's against regulations, Morris, and you know it.
- I'll get the medics. - He won't need one.
Some men are destined never to leave Alcatraz
- Got those books that may help you. - Thanks.
- See you later, man. - Goodbye, boy.
So long, boy.
Move. Move, move, move.
Take a seat.
- Have you been playing this thing long? - A couple of months.
- You any good? - Terrible.
You'll get better.
Excuse me.
That's one of the benefits of Alcatraz.
Lots of time to practice.
Has Morris been doing anything unusual recently?
Sometimes he stays up late, talking with Butts.
- Split them up. Move Morris. - Yes, sir.
I'll have to get a cell ready and do the paperwork.
We could move him, say Wednesday.
- Tuesday morning. - Yes, sir.
I missed you, Morris. I missed you so much, I've got a present for you.
I'll give it to you later.
Get your ass back here!
He'll kill you. Or you'll have to kill him.
Yeah, well, I'm not going to give him the chance.
Can you get the rafts and the life jackets ready to go by tonight?
We'll all meet on top, as soon as lights are out.
- Wolf. You carrying? - Who? Me?
Move out.
- Where are you going, Wolfie? - I'm just going for a walk.
Let's take that walk.
After six months in the hole, you could use some exercise.
- Butts! - I'll meet you up on top.
Let's go.
Yeah... You're going, too.
Butts, goddamn it.
I can't risk tearing this gear. What's left of it...
Throw me this stuff when I get over.
Watch the barbed wire.
Get up, Morris. It's moving day.
I said get up, Morris. Open up 109.
Goddamn it, Morris! I said...
Jesus Christ!
Morning, Sergeant. What have you got?
Photos and a notebook of Clarence Anglin. The bag's made from a raincoat.
- It would appear that they drowned. - Why?
If that was important enough to take along, they wouldn't have lost it.
Maybe they lost it to look like they drowned.
Warden, we just got a message from the Director.
He wants you on the next plane to Washington.
- Do chrysanthemums grow here? - Not here on Angel Island. Why?
I'm curious.
The tides were mild and the fog light last night.
If they left at lights out, they had a nine-and-a-half hour head start.
- I wonder if they made it. - They drowned.
Yes, sir.