THE ESCAPE OF PRISONER 614 — Review by Susan Granger

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Set in upstate New York in what seems to be the 1960s, this wannabe comedic adventure begins as two bumbling deputies, Thurman Hayford (Jake McDorman) and Jim Doyle (Martin Starr), are summarily fired by cantankerous, corrupt Sheriff Wilson (Ron Perlman), because they’ve made no arrests since there’s been no crime committed in their tiny town of Shandaken for years.

Almost as soon as they clean out their desks and hand in their badges, the phone rings. It’s the prison warden (Ralph Cashen), alerting them that an escaped prisoner may be nearby.

Hoping to earn their jobs back, they set off into the foothills of the Slide Mountain Wilderness in hot pursuit, unfortunately using all their ammunition in fruitless gun practice, trying – in vain – to hit a beer can target. That’s followed by an idiotic encounter with three hunters in the oak and maple forest.

Eventually, they catch up with the hapless prisoner, Andre (George Semple III), crouching by his campire, only to discover that he’s probably innocent, a victim of racial prejudice and systemic injustice.

Making his first feature film, writer/director Zach Golden is best known for concocting an apparently lucrative website called whatthefuckshouldimakefor which served up 48 million recipes and spawned his own cookbook, sold at Barnes & Noble and on Amazon.

His film background includes directing commercials for GE, Kodak, Yahoo, Nestle and Proctor & Gamble.

Acknowledging his debt to John Ford and the Coen brothers, Golden says of this film : “It’s what I call a Matzoh Ball Western, which is basically a Western made by a Jew in the Catskills.”

But I suspect Golden needs to go back to Filmmaking 101, because his weakly-scripted, satirical Western never takes advantage of its talented cast, particularly Ron Perlman and Sondra James, who plays the sardonic waitress in the local diner.

On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, “The Escape of Prisoner 614” is a flimsy 4, destined for the DVD shelf.

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Susan Granger

Susan Granger is a product of Hollywood. Her natural father, S. Sylvan Simon, was a director and producer at R.K.O., M.G.M. and Columbia Pictures; her adoptive father, Armand Deutsch, produced movies at M.G.M. As a child, Susan appeared in movies with Abbott & Costello, Red Skelton, Lucille Ball, Margaret O'Brien and Lassie. She attended Mills College in California, studying journalism with Pierre Salinger, and graduated from the University of Pennsylvania with highest honors in journalism. During her adult life, Susan has been on radio and television as an anchorwoman and movie/drama critic. Her newspaper reviews have been syndicated around the world, and she has appeared on American Movie Classics cable television. In addition, her celebrity interviews and articles have been published in REDBOOK, PLAYBOY, FAMILY CIRCLE, COSMOPOLITAN, WORKING WOMAN and THE NEW YORK TIMES, as well as in PARIS MATCH, ELLE, HELLO, CARIBBEAN WORLD, ISLAND LIFE, MACO DESTINATIONS, NEWS LIMITED NEWSPAPERS (Australia), UK DAILY MAIL, UK SUNDAY MIRROR, DS (France), LA REPUBBLICA (Italy), BUNTE (Germany), VIP TRAVELLER (Krisworld) and many other international publications through SSG Syndicate. Susan also lectures on the "Magic and Mythology of Hollywood" and "Don't Take It Personally: Conquering Criticism and other Survival Skills," originally published on tape by Dove Audio.