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Canon City

Canon City(1948)

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Canon City (1948)

Canon City (1948), directed by Crane Wilbur, is based on an actual jailbreak that occurred at this maximum security compound in Colorado in 1947. Although the narrative focuses on an inmate named Sherbondy (Scott Brady) who is blackmailed by some fellow prisoners into escaping from the facility, the film seems closer to a documentary than a Hollywood prison flick. Part of this is due to the director's decision to cast non-professionals with real actors in the film (The "actor" identified as Roy Best is the same warden who was at the prison during the actual jailbreak in 1947!). Another reason the film has such an immediacy to it is due to the exceptional cinematography.

The man behind the camera of Canon City is John Alton (Telluride honoree in 1993). He's been the creative visual eye behind such films as Border Incident (1949), Father of the Bride (1950), and the film he won an Oscar® for in 1951, An American in Paris. John Alton came to the United States from Hungary in 1919 and stumbled into the movie business when the gate man at New York Studio (Hearst's Cosmopolitan Studios) noticed him, said "you're just the man we're looking for," and immediately hired him as a dress extra. This led to an invested interest in the movie business and a few years later, he jumped at the opportunity to work as a lab technician at MGM, a job which eventually led to the camera department. Alton is probably best known for his definitive film noir work on such movies as T-Men (1947), Raw Deal (1948), and He Walked By Night (1948). It's why he was the perfect choice to shoot Canon City.

Director: Crane Wilbur
Producer: Bryan Foy
Screenplay: Crane Wilbur
Cinematography: John Alton
Editing: Louis Sackin
Art Direction: Frank Durlauf
Cast: Scott Brady (Jim Sherbondy), Jeff Corey (Schwartzmiller), Whit Bissell (Heilman), Charles Russell (Tolley), DeForest Kelley (Smalley).

by Rod Hollimon

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