John Frankenheimer: shooting Against the Wall


  • Gerald Pratley



ON JUNE 26 last year all the clocks at the Tennessee State Prison in Nashville stopped at 9 o'clock. The iron doors clanged shut, the last of the prisoners filed out to be transferred to other prisons, and a deep silence settled over the long corridors and empty cell blocks once teeming with a thousand inmates. Today the clocks still say 9 o'clock, but the doors are open again and the place alive with the familiar sights and sounds of a film crew on location. And director John Frankenheimer is at last in a prison! When Frankenheimer made Birdman of Alcatraz thirty-two years ago he planned at first to shoot it there, but permission was refused and he had to settle for studio sets. This gave the film a "too clean look" he admits, but it was justified in part as the story was self-contained, like a poem, about...






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