|Directed by||Stuart Rosenberg|
|Produced by||Ron Silverman
Ted Mann (executive)
|Screenplay by||W. D. Richter|
|Story by||W. D. Richter
|Based on||book by
|Music by||Lalo Schifrin|
|Editing by||Robert Brown|
|Distributed by||20th Century Fox|
|Release date(s)||June 20, 1980|
|Running time||132 minutes|
Brubaker is an American Prison Drama film from 1980 directed by Stuart Rosenberg about a prison in distress and the Warden Henry Brubaker (Robert Redford) who attempts to reform the system. The screenplay by W.D. Richter is a fictionalized version of the 1969 book, Accomplices to the Crime: The Arkansas Prison Scandal by Tom Murton and Joe Hyams, detailing Murton's uncovering of the 1967 scandal.
The film boasts a large supporting cast of stars including Yaphet Kotto, Tim McIntire, Nathan George, David Keith, Everett McGill, Murray Hamilton, Matt Clark, M. Emmet Walsh and Jane Alexander, with an early appearance by Morgan Freeman. Nicolas Cage appears as an extra in his very first film.
A mysterious man (Robert Redford) arrives at a prison as an inmate and witnesses rampant abuse and corruption, including open and endemic sexual assault, torture, worm-ridden diseased food, insurance fraud and a doctor charging inmates for care, amongst other things. During a dramatic standoff, he reveals himself to be the new prison warden, Henry Brubaker, to the amazement of both prisoners and officials alike.
With ideals and vision, he attempts to reform the prison, with an eye towards prisoner rehabilitation and human rights. He recruits several long-time prisoners, including Larry Lee Bullen (David Keith) and Richard "Dickie" Coombes (Yaphet Kotto), to assist him with the reform. Their combined efforts improve the prison conditions, but his stance inflames several corrupt officials on the prison board who have profited from graft for decades. When he discovers multiple unmarked graves of prisoners on the property, he attempts to unravel the mystery, leading to political scandal. When a trustee realizes that he might be held accountable for killing another inmate, he decides to make a run for it, the resulting gunfight, in which Bullen is killed, proves to be the final ammunition that the prison board (acting with the tacit approval of the governor) needs to fire Brubaker.
A statement before the credits explains that two years after Brubaker was fired, twenty four inmates, led by Coombes, sued the prison. The court ruled that the treatment of the prisoners was unconstitutional and the prison system was ultimately reformed. Meanwhile, the governor was not re-elected.
The movie is based on the real-life experiences of Thomas Murton, author of the novel upon which the movie is based and one-time warden in the Arkansas state prison system. Much of the squalid conditions, violence and corruption depicted in the film was the subject of a 1970 federal court case, Holt v. Sarver, in which the federal court ruled that Arkansas' prison system violated inmates' constitutional rights, and ordered reform.
Cast and characters
- Robert Redford as Henry Brubaker
- Yaphet Kotto as Richard 'Dickie' Coombes
- Jane Alexander as Lillian Gray
- Murray Hamilton as John Deach
- David Keith as Larry Lee Bullen
- Morgan Freeman as Walter
- Matt Clark as Roy Purcell
- Tim McIntire as Huey Rauch
- Richard Ward as Abraham Cook
- Jon Van Ness as Zaranska
- M. Emmet Walsh as C.P. Woodward
- Albert Salmi as Rory Poke
- Linda Haynes as Carol
- Everett McGill as Eddie Caldwell
- Joe Spinell as Floyd Birdwell
- Val Avery as Wendel
- Noble Willingham as Dr. Fenster
- Wilford Brimley as Rogers
- John McMartin as Senator Charles Hite
- William Newman (William M. Newman) as Dunfield
- A. Daniel Parrish as Prisoner
- James Keane as Pinky
- Nicolas Cage (uncredited extra)
- Robbie DeVol as War Buff
Brubaker was a critical and commercial success. Produced on a budget of $9 million, the film grossed $37,121,708 in North America, earning $19.3 million in theatrical rentals, making it the 19th highest grossing film of 1980. The movie was also well received by critics, holding a 83% "Fresh" rating on the review aggregate website Rotten Tomatoes.
- Motion Picture Sound Editors: Golden Reel Award. Best Sound Editing.
- Academy Awards: Best Writing, Screenplay Written Directly for the Screen; W.D. Richter (screenplay/story) and Arthur A. Ross (story).
- Box Office Information for Brubaker. The Wrap. Retrieved April 4, 2013.
- Box Office Information for Brubaker. Box Office Mojo. Retrieved April 4, 2013.
- Solomon, Aubrey. Twentieth Century Fox: A Corporate and Financial History (The Scarecrow Filmmakers Series). Lanham, Maryland: Scarecrow Press, 1989. ISBN 978-0-8108-4244-1. p234. Please note figures are rentals accruing to distributors and not total gross.
- 1980 Domestic Grosses. Box Office Mojo. Retrieved April 4, 2013.
- Brubaker, Movie Reviews. Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved April 4, 2013.