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Theatrical poster
Directed by Stuart Rosenberg
Produced by Ron Silverman
Written by Screenplay
W.D. Richter
Arthur A. Ross
Joe Hyams
Tom Murton
Starring Robert Redford
Yaphet Kotto
Jane Alexander
Morgan Freeman
Nicolas Cage
Music by Lalo Schifrin
Cinematography Bruno Nuytten
Editing by Robert Brown
Distributed by 20th Century Fox
Release date(s) June 20, 1980
Running time 132 minutes
Country United States
Language English

Brubaker is an American 1980 film about a prison in distress and the Warden Henry Brubaker (Robert Redford) who attempts to reform the system.

The film boasts a large supporting cast of stars including Yaphet Kotto, Tim McIntire, Nathan George, David Keith, Everett McGill, Murray Hamilton, Matt Clark and Jane Alexander, with an early appearance by Morgan Freeman. Nicolas Cage appears as an extra in his very first film.



A mysterious man (Redford) arrives at a prison as an inmate and witnesses rampant abuse and corruption, including open and endemic sexual assault, torture, worm-ridden diseased food, insurance fraud and a doctor charging inmates for care, amongst other things. During a dramatic standoff, he reveals himself to be the new prison warden, Henry Brubaker, to the amazement of both prisoners and officials alike.

With ideals and vision, he attempts to reform the prison, with an eye towards prisoner rehabilitation and human rights. He recruits several long-time prisoners, including Larry Lee Bullen (Keith) and Richard "Dickie" Coombes (Kotto), to assist him with his reformation. Their efforts improve the prison conditions, but his stance inflames several corrupt officials on the prison board who have profited from graft for decades. When he discovers multiple unmarked graves of prisoners on the property, he attempts to unravel the mystery, leading to political scandal. When a trustee realizes that he might be held accountable for killing another inmate, he decides to make a run for it, the resulting gunfight proves to be the final ammunition that the prison board (acting with the tacit approval of the governor) needs to fire Brubaker.


The film is based on the 1969 book Accomplices To The Crime: The Arkansas Prison Scandal by Tom Murton and Joe Hyams. Murton was a warden at the Tucker and Cummins Prison in Arkansas. The abuses detailed in the film and the discovery of unmarked graves are based on fact.

The discovery of the buried bodies was the subject of a song by Bobby Darin, Long Line Rider, in 1968. Some of its lyrics were: "There's a farm in Arkansas, got some secrets in its floor, in decay, in decay. The lyrics include the line "This kind of thing can't happen here, especially not in election year". He was due to perform the song on the Jackie Gleason show, but when they ordered him to cut that particular line, rather than censor himself, he walked off the set.

Murton served as technical advisor to the film.



Filmed at The Junction City Prison Farm in Junction City, Ohio, Bremen, Ohio, New Lexington, Ohio, and at the Fairfield County Fairgrounds in Lancaster, Ohio.





  • Academy Awards: Best Writing, Screenplay Written Directly for the Screen; W.D. Richter (screenplay/story) and Arthur A. Ross (story).

See also

External links


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