Riot in Cell Block 11 1954 Criterion Collection
Shot on location in California's infamous Folsom Prison and using a whole lot of the actual inmate population as extras in the picture, the story begins with an introductory scene that tells us about the plague of prison riots erupting violently across the United States. The prisoners are unhappy with the conditions and treatment doled out by the state and they're angry enough to do something about it. From here, we voyage into Cell Block 11 where the situation is just starting to approach boiling point. When they don't improve, James Dunn (Neville Brand) and the other inmates trick a guard named Monroe (Paul Frees) and wind up snagging his keys. From here, they take out the other guards and quickly secure command of the block.

The warden, Reynolds (Emile Meyer), is sympathetic to the cause and believes that for the betterment of society the prison population deserves better than what they're getting. For this reason he agrees to read the list of demands to the media circus but the Governor and Commissioner Haskell (Frank Faylen) are less than sympathetic. They intend to crack down on the rioters and use this to send a message to other facilities where similar problems could easily come up. Things aren't exactly coming up roses inside Cell Block 11 though, because ‘Crazy' Mike Carnie (Leo Gordon) is just itching to lay some hurt into the captive guards. Dunn doesn't want to play things that way and he allies himself with The Colonel (Robert Osterloh) to hopefully keep Mike in check. A few of the other inmates want to just give this all up out of fear of retaliation and a power struggle amongst the men ensues while outside forces and the powers that be conspire to blow up the cell block altogether.

Director: Don Siegel
Cast: Neville Brand, Emile Meyer, Frank Faylen, Leo Gordon, Don Keefer
Country: USA
Genre: Crime, Drama, Film-Noir

BD50 + DVD9 | 1080p AVC, NTSC 4:3 | 01:20:35 | 44 Gb + 6 Gb + 3% rec
Language: English
Subtitles: English


Commentary - film scholar Matthew H. Bernstein discusses the production history of Riot in Cell Block 11, the visual style of the film and the narrative's unique qualities that separated it from other similarly themed films produced before 1954, the initial reviews for the film, etc. Indeed, this is a wonderful commentary with plenty of excellent information that makes it extremely easy to appreciate Don Siegel and writer Richard Collins' vision. It was recorded exclusively for Criterion in 2014.

The Challenge of Our Prisoners - presented here are audio excerpts from journalists Peg and Walter McGraw's NBC radio documentary series The Challenge of Our Prisons originally aired in March 1953. Many of the issues discussed in the series are either identical or similar to the ones addressed in Don Siegel's film. In English, not subtitled. (60 min, audio only).

Excerpt From Don Siegel: Director - Kristoffer Tabori, Don Siegel's son, reads excerpts from the chapter on Riot in Cell Block 11 from Stuart Kaminsky's 1974 book Don Siegel: Director, which includes an interview with Neville Brand (who plays the leader of the prisoners, James V. Dunn). Included with the featurette are various production photographs and stills from the film. In English, not subtitled. (13 min).

Don Siegel on Riot in Cell Block 11 - Kristofer Tabori reads a chapter on Riot in Cell Block 11 from the American director's autobiography, A Siegel Film. In English, not subtitled. (26 min).