A sadistic, near psychopathic chief guard (Hume Cronyn) rules a prison with an iron fist while the ineffectual warden (Roman Bohnen) looks the other way. But his vicious cruelty drives the men to the brink of their endurance and it's only a matter of time before everything explodes. The title says it all. This is a gritty and violent look at prison life, where rehabilitation takes a backseat to cruel and unusual punishment. Even though the film takes place entirely in a prison (except for the obligatory flashbacks), Jules Dassin's film is often classified as noir. The sense of a hopeless predestined fate is there as well as the requisite B&W chiaroscuro lensing courtesty of William H. Daniels (NINOTCHKA) and a moody score by noir veteran Miklos Rozsa. If the film has any strong drawback it's in the somewhat overdone portrayal of Cronyn's evil guard who you almost expect to twirl his moustache and give a wicked laugh. There's nothing wrong with Cronyn's performance, he's quite good, it's in the writing. The flashbacks are necessary to bring the girls into the story though they only minimally add anything to the narrative. With Burt Lancaster, Ann Blyth, Yvonne De Carlo, Howard Duff, Charles Bickford, Ella Raines, Charles McGraw, Sam Levene, Whit Bissell, John Hoyt, Anita Colby, Art Smith, Jay C. Flippen and Jeff Corey.