As a long time follower of Alcatraz and its history, to say that I found this film dissapointing is an understatement. Is heavily influenced by the same titled (and vastly superior) book by Clark Howard.
The story itself centers around six individuals, but mainly Kentucky bank robber Bernard "Bernie" Coy - David Carradine trying his best to drag above a painfully wooden script loaded with the worst of B action movie cliche lines. Coy spent years working on the weaknesses of Alcatraz, arguably the most infamous prison in history - only to find out that the only area not heavily enforced was the main guards' cage, complete with cellblock keys and armaments! He creates an elaborate escape attempt relying on the help of Marvin Hubbard (David Morse in the film's best performance), Joe Cretzer (Howard Hesseman in by far and away the worst), "Buddy" Thompson (Jan-Michael Vincent), Sam Shockley (Charles Haid), and the only survivor of the whole thing - "Dan Durando" (really Clarence Carnes, his name was kept quiet originally, being a witness and all) and in May of 1946 they went to work.
The crux of the film arrives when the plot goes horribly awry due to a misplaced key and jammed lock. As things get more desperate the cons turn on each other, with the exception of Coy and Hubbard, who were friends to start with. Cellhouse guards are injured and killed, prompting the arrival of the Marines, among others. It is during this point that the film's biggest flaws really show - aforementioned script, a score that consists of chains clanking and a mechanical "ugh" for emphasis, numerous historical and continuity problems too lengthy to mention (not that I'm a purist, they were just that bad), and the persistent bugger that apparently in all of Alcatraz the only prisoners are our lot and Robert Stroud, the "Birdman" (Dennis Farina, in a role much more dramatic and key in reality) as cons run down empty cellblocks that previously had random hands sticking out to and fro all over. Without giving away the ultimate ending, things don't fare too well. And neither does the film, shot on location with some incredible views in that aspect. It comes across as a really low grade B movie, such a sad thing considering what happened and how the film could have been made with better attention to detail - and casting somebody, anybody other than Howard Hesseman. Persons not familiar with the "crashout" as it was called might find it interesting as a springboard in to better things. Folks interested in a better popcorn film (as this is intended to be on some levels) can check out David Morse yet again in "The Rock" or that Clint Eastwood perrenial "Escape from Alcatraz." Just don't bother with this.