Questions about "Escape from Alcatraz" WARNING! spoilers galore, no boxes

Probably hard to spoil a movie called “Escape from Alcatraz” (starring Clint Eastwood), but please don’t read my questions if you haven’t seen it and don’t want to know what happens.

In no particular order:

  1. Is it actually possible to weld a spoon to nail clippers using a bunch of matches bundled together, as Morris does in one scene? He is shown filing off part of a dime, so I would assume he was doing some sort of silver-soldering, using the dime filings as the solder. But silver-soldering doesn’t work unless you get the object red-hot. Would that be enough heat to do it?

  2. On the night they escape, Butts is still in his cell when the others go into the utility corridor. They call to Butts, who says he’ll meet them “up top”. Then Butts is shown, still in his cell, looking very distraught, but it doesn’t seem clear why. Does he chicken out and not have enough nerve to go through with it at first? Is the guard watching and thus preventing him from making his escape? A guard is shown looking in on Butts, but only later after Butts has already initially failed to get out of his cell. There is a suggestion that the phony vent grill he made is stuck in the hole (earlier, Morris had told him to use contact cement to keep it from falling out), but again, it’s only shown after Butts’ initial failure to escape, and he easily circumvents this problem by smashing it with his foot. So what’s the real reason that Butts doesn’t get out of his cell in time?

  3. When they are discussing the escape plan, Morris says they will go to Angel Island, because he believes the guards will look for them in San Francisco. But in the final scene, the warden and guards are shown searching Angel Island. Was Morris supposed to be wrong? He was portrayed as being highly intelligent; it seems unlikely that he would end up being wrong at the end of the movie with no explanation. If they had gone to Angel Island, why didn’t the guards find them? I realize that it’s a true story, and that in reality they were never found, so then why have the premise that they would escape to Angel Island at all?

  4. Why do you suppose the warden didn’t like the portrait of himself? It seemed like a pretty good likeness, and not unflattering. Was it just the idea of a prisoner painting him that bothered him?

  5. What was the purpose of the headphones that a prisoner is shown wearing in one scene? Were the prisoners provided with piped-in music at Alcatraz? I have visited Alcatraz and noticed the headphone jacks in every cell, and wondered the same thing, then later noticed it in the movie.

Apologies if any of these questions are incredibly stupid - please be gentle with me. :wink:

  1. Are prisoners required to sleep with their head near the bars?

Mythbusters recreated & tested the raft made from raincoats and the homemade paddles. They worked reasonably well.

I think they recreated the paper mache heads too.

They had studied a tidal model of the bay and understood how it would effect their trip. Morris and the others didn’t have this detailed information.

The headphones were for listening to the radio.

Wow. It’s been years since I saw that movie. I need to see it again, because I can’t answer any of those questions.

I saw it when it came out…1979?..and I can’t remember any of the character names, or anything of the plot.

But I have a PHOTOGRAPHIC MEMORY of the portrait of the Warden (Patrick McGoohan). It was wearing one of that actor’s more over-the-top expressions, with extremely arched eyebrows? I think it was an inside joke about McGoohan occasionally hamming it up, which is why his character didn’t care for it.

Casting Number Six as the Warden had to be a inside joke. :smiley:

This does not make any sense at all and is not even funny.

Well, the OP does want… In-For-Ma-Shunnn.

Are you completely unfamiliar with The Prisoner?

The Simpsons did a riff on The Prisoner. Homer steals Number Six’s raft.

Back to the Op’s questions.

There’s conflicting opinions if the movie’s welding scene would work.

One critical omission in the movie is making flux. Borax from the prison laundry will work.

“The Prisoner” broke Patrick McGoohan. Before, he was John Drake, action hero. Then they got him in The Village and worked him over. After that, he was the villain in Braveheart, the villain in Silver Streak, and the villain in Escape from Alcatraz, where, like a good alumni from The Village, he even keeps other people imprisoned.

A fine tribute to the methods and practices of The Village!

This was Clint Eastwood’s second time filming at Alcatraz. The end of The Enforcer was set there, which was released three years earlier.

I always thought there was a potential trivia question there, but I never figured out a way to word it.

“…it is possible to solder low-melt filler metals such as lead and tin with fairly little heat and SMALL AMOUNTS OF SILVER OR SILVER FLAKES added to the lead or tin create a solder commonly known as ‘silver-bearing solder’…”

While I agree that low temperature silver-bearing solder is indeed composed of these elements, I don’t think you can start with molten regular solder and just add the silver, it isn’t hot enough to melt in. After you have the solder made (at a higher temperature), it remelts at intermediate temperatures.

And in the movie, there is clearly no lead solder involved.


13 years he’s been waiting for these answers! Not one reply in all that time, now, BOOM!

How is this possible?

I have melted small quantities of copper and silver using nothing more than a candle and a crude blowpipe. Here is a pro at work:

Good question. I wondered the same thing.

See Post #6 (hee hee hee)


I actually just watched this not long ago, and I gotta say, that painting was made to look intentionally…

… well, this isn’t 1979, and attitudes have changed, but…
…Damn! That looked Gay!

  1. I think Butts absolutely chickened out. Remember, he’s not a murderer & lifer like Morris & the Anglin brothers. He’s a small time car thief who got sent to Alcatraz for stealing a prison guards car. The only reason he wanted to escape was because his mother was dying. So when it came down to it, he was initially too scared to go through with it. And when he did try to join the others, it was too late and he couldn’t reach the window(?) they were escaping through.

Did I miss something? Actors play different roles and it is public knowledge, not an inside joke. Not only that, it isn’t even funny. Ironic, maybe.