Brubaker (1980) - Rotten Tomatoes


Brubaker (1980)




Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

Brubaker Photos

Movie Info

Fact-based drama starring Robert Redford as Henry Brubaker, the new inmate at a run-down Southern prison that's become notorious for corruption and violence. After he witnesses several instances of gross misconduct and defuses a tense confrontation with a crazed inmate (Morgan Freeman), Brubaker reveals to the guards and administrators that he's not a criminal at all, but the new warden, assigned by the governor to infiltrate the facility undercover. His identity confirmed, Brubaker takes office and sets about shaping up policies and procedures, despite resistance from, incredibly, even some of the more entitled convicts. With the help of the prison's chief trustee (Yaphet Kotto) and a compassionate ally (Jane Alexander), the warden effects some positive change, but powerful business interests line up against him when his ideas threaten their financial bottom line. A reform-minded, socially conscious, and politically liberal picture of the type usually associated with director Norman Jewison, this fact-based prison drama was the result of a troubled production that saw original director Bob Rafelson replaced with Cool Hand Luke (1967) and The Amityville Horror (1979) helmsman Stuart Rosenberg. Despite the backstage turmoil, Brubaker was an acclaimed release and an Oscar-nominated, career-finale triumph for co-screenwriter Arthur A. Ross, creator of Creature From the Black Lagoon (1954) and father of successful writer/director Gary Ross.

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Robert Redford
as Henry Brubaker
Yaphet Kotto
as Richard 'Dickie' Coombes, Richard "Dickie" Coombes
Jane Alexander
as Lillian Gray
Murray Hamilton
as John Deach
David Keith
as Larry Lee
Matt Clark
as Purcell
Tim McIntire
as Huey Rauch
Richard Ward
as Abraham
Jon Van Ness
as Zaranska
Albert Salmi
as Rory Poke
Val Avery
as Wendel
M. Emmet Walsh
as C.P. Woodward
Don Blakely
as Jerome Boyd
David Harris
as Duane Spivey
Ron Frazier
as Willets
Joe Spinell
as Birdwell
Konrad Sheehan
as Glenn Elwood
Roy Poole
as Dr. Gregory
Nathan George
as Leon Edwards
Lee Richardson
as Warden Renfrew
John McMartin
as Senator Hite
Harry Groener
as Dr. Campbell
John Glover
as Ackroyd
Alex Brown
as Fenway Park
John Chappell
as Captain Cleaves
Brent Jennings
as Mr. Clarence
Noble Willingham
as Dr. Fenster
Jane Cecil
as Bea Williams
Vic Polizos
as Billy Baylock
Jack O'Leary
as Floor Walker
James Dukas
as Oafish Rankman
J.C. Quinn
as Barber
Hazen Gifford
as Parridge
Bill McNulty
as Richards
Rob Garrison
as Pretty Boy
Ritch Brinkley
as Gate Guard
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Critic Reviews for Brubaker

All Critics (24) | Top Critics (4)

Brubaker is a grim, often powerful prison movie based on the true story of convict torture and mass murder in a Southern penitentiary.

October 25, 2018 | Full Review…

Brubaker is a dramatic movie with a social conscience and a welcome change from the primarily fluffy-headed film fare of the summer of 1980.

April 28, 2018 | Full Review…

... a vivid, entertaining and shamelessly manipulative "crusading" melodrama about the impact of a reform warden on a barbarous penal institution.

October 17, 2017 | Full Review…

Brubaker is a well-crafted film that does a harrowingly effective job of portraying the details of its prison, but then it populates it with positions rather than people.

October 23, 2004 | Rating: 2.5/4 | Full Review…

It's interesting to note that Brubaker, before it devotes itself entirely to the protagonist's exploits, boasts a first act revolving around the happenings within the central penitentiary...

October 1, 2018 | Rating: 2/4 | Full Review…

The first half-hour is powerful stuff, but after Brubaker reveals his true identity, the movie begins to falter, with the one-dimensional nature of the characters (particularly the warden himself) eventually stripping the story of any dramatic charge.

June 9, 2013 | Rating: 2.5/4 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for Brubaker


Brubaker is a prison drama - a little like Shawshank Redemption, but in this one, it is Brubaker that is fighting corruption in prison. It is almost too idealistic, but it is always cool when corruption is stifled.

Red Lats
Red Lats

Super Reviewer

Classic Robert Redford from the early 80's. A gripping movie from the director of "Cool Hand Luke".

Mister Caple
Mister Caple

Super Reviewer

Based on the real life story of Tom Murton, this sure is a worthy tale to tell, however I found the whole film pretty boring and I have to say Robert Redford did absolutely nothing for me acting wise.

Lady D'arbanville
Lady D'arbanville

Super Reviewer

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