Brubaker (1980)

Brubaker Poster

Brubaker (1980)


I have been a fan of Robert Redford ever since I watched the film The Sting (1973) for the first time when I was a little kid.  Brubaker is a Redford movie that I had not seen, until now.

Brubaker Redford inmate

The movie is about Henry Brubaker (Robert Redford), the new warden of a prison in Arkansas who initially poses as an inmate to try to figure out just how corrupt the system is before revealing his true identity as the new warden.  Brubaker is a hard-nosed man who will stop at nothing to reform the deteriorating prison.

The film was directed by Stuart Rosenberg and the rest of the noteworthy cast includes Murray Hamilton, Jane Alexander, David Keith, Matt Clark, Morgan Freeman, Yaphet Kotto, M. Emmet Walsh, Albert Salmi, Everett McGill, Noble Willingham, and Wilford Brimley.

The movie was a little hard to follow in the beginning.  It was all over the place showing what it was like inside of the prison.  The film took a turn for the better when it started focusing on Redford’s part of the story.

For a prison movie, it was slower than I expected.  This turned out to be a good thing because it allowed for plenty of character development.

It was refreshing to watch a movie for the first time that has Robert Redford in his prime.  He gave a convincing, solid and powerful performance of a stubborn man trying to do the right thing no matter how much trouble he gets himself into.

Freeman’s part was very minor, but it was fun to see him much younger than he is now.  He seemed to have a few less freckles, too.  I know that is completely random, but I found it interesting.

Being that the film takes place in a prison and it is rated R, I expected there to be a lot of cussing, and there was a good amount.  However, for a movie that was made in 1980, I was surprised at how many F-bombs there actually were.  It wouldn’t be considered a lot by today’s standards, but it felt like a lot for a movie that was made 33 years ago.  Actually, if the film had been released today, it would only take a little bit of minor tweaking to give it a PG-13 rating.  All they would have to do is edit out the 5 seconds of nudity and some of the F words.

Brubaker Redford Warden

Overall, the movie told a unique story of right vs. wrong.  If you are a fan of Redford, then you will most likely enjoy Brubaker.

I rate this movie a 7.5 on a scale of 1-10.

Buy, rent, or run?  Rent.

Note: I couldn’t help but think of Morgan Freeman’s other prison movie, The Shawshank Redemption (1994).  In The Shawshank Redemption, Freeman’s character has been in prison for a long time.  Brubaker was made 14 years before The Shawshank Redemption.  Each character that Freeman played in those films is not a big stretch from one another, except for the fact that his role was very minor in Brubaker.


About Brock Winspear

Structure Therapist and Film Critic

Posted on October 21, 2013, in Drama Movie Reviews and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. One thing I’ll say for this movie is that the guards in that prison know how to deal with convicts.We
    need more prisons like this.This is where we should be sending all these street gang members
    like the bloods and the crips and the aryan brotherhood.You think those guards would put up with
    their crap?They’d blow their brains out.

    • Thanks for the comment, John. Our system is pretty backwards. It does seem like convicts these days have it almost too easy and there is some truth to what you’re saying. Thanks for reading.

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