Fortune and Men's Eyes (1971)

Genres - Action, Drama  |   Sub-Genres - Prison Film  |   Release Date - Jun 15, 1971 (USA - Unknown)  |   Run Time - 102 min.  |   Countries - Canada, United States  |   MPAA Rating - R
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Review by Craig Butler

A true curiosity, Fortune and Men's Eyes is a strange little film that seems very much of its era. Its creators seem to have been of two minds about Fortune, and seem to have been unable to resolve the conflict between the two minds. On the one hand, it wants to be a "problem" picture, dealing with the damaging social realities in a men's prison. On the other, it also seems to want to be an exploitation flick about the same subject and at times seems to celebrate the sexual abuse it chronicles in such a way as to border on pornographic (in its voyeuristic outlook, not in the actual revelation of flesh). The end is a mish-mash that isn't helped by a simplistic viewpoint and a lack of credibility; it simply doesn't seem believable that Wendell Burton's character could undergo such a radical change in the six months covered by the film. (It also doesn't help that Zooey Hall is not physical imposing enough for his character, despite a performance that does its best to overcome this physical defect.) Harvey Hart's direction is lacking in nuance, and Galt MacDermot's score is used in a very inappropriate manner. All this aside, Fortune still has an undeniable power, and some of its sequences make a definite impact. Burton does very well with the impossible role, and Michael Greer's over-the-top flame is something that shouldn't be missed.