Frank Morris (Clint Eastwood) arrives at Alcatraz in 1960 after having successfully broken out of several other prisons. He seems to inspire respect or hate just by his presence. A brutish prisoner (Bruce Fischer) ties to kill him when he dosen't respond to his sexual advances; the meticulously chilly warden (Patrick McGoohan) knowing his background throws out a challenge — "No one has ever escaped from Alcatraz"; a black con (Paul Benjamin) gives him all the dope on the power structure; a mild-mannered prisoner (Frank Ronzio) with a pet mouse relates to him like a brother; and an old man (Roberts Blossom) who retains his sense of dignity treats him as a son. These character portraits give Escape from Alcatraz an edge over other films of its type.

The one mistake in Richard Tuggle's screenplay is that he has Morris choose two old buddies who arrive from another prison to escape with instead of the men we have come to know. When they make their break, we only feel like cheering for Morris. Despite this dramatic flaw, Escape from Alcatraz will probably hold its own in the history of prison break movies.