Picks and Pans Review: On the Yard
Ex-con Malcolm Braly's 1967 prison novel has been transformed into a handsomely photographed, impressively acted, but awkwardly plotted movie. The screenplay, also by Braly, tells of a tough young "top con" (Tom Waites) locked in a brutal power struggle with prison officials who are intent on breaking his hold over the other inmates. As the new arrival who runs afoul of this deadly system, John (Between the Lines) Heard is stunningly effective, and veteran Mike (Midnight Express) Kellin puts his hangdog looks to good use as Waites' dumb but dutiful sidekick. The movie tries to turn funny toward the end with an escape attempt by balloon that seems painfully out of place. Still, it's an impressive first effort for director Raphael Silver, whose only previous film ventures were as producer of wife Joan Micklin Silver's Hester Street and Between the Lines. (R)
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