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Lock Up (film)

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Title: Lock Up (film)  
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Lock Up (film)

Lock Up
Theatrical release poster
Directed by John Flynn
Produced by Charles Gordon
Lawrence Gordon
Written by Richard Smith
Jeb Stuart
Henry Rosenbaum
Starring Sylvester Stallone
Donald Sutherland
John Amos
Darlanne Fluegel
Frank McRae
Sonny Landham
Music by Bill Conti
Cinematography Donald E. Thorin
Edited by Don Brochu
Robert A. Ferretti
Michael N. Knue
Barry B. Leirer
Gordon Company
White Eagle Pictures
Carolco Pictures
Distributed by TriStar Pictures
Release dates
  • August 4, 1989 (1989-08-04)
Running time
115 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $24 million[1]
Box office $22,099,847 (US)[2]

Lock Up is a 1989 American prison action film directed by John Flynn. The film stars Sylvester Stallone and Donald Sutherland. The film was released in the United States on August 4, 1989.


  • Plot 1
  • Cast 2
  • Production 3
  • Reception 4
    • Box Office 4.1
    • Critical 4.2
  • See also 5
  • References 6
  • External links 7


Frank Leone, a skilled mechanic and football player in Hoboken, New Jersey, is a model prisoner nearing the end of his sentence in Norwood, a low security prison. He occasionally spends time outside prison in his garage fixing cars, playing football and spending time with his girlfriend Melissa.

One night, while sleeping in his cell, guards arrive and forcibly take Leone to maximum security Gateway Prison run by Warden Drumgoole. Drumgoole explains to him, that he will serve hard time, because he escaped once from Treadmore and did so on Drumgoole's watch. He escaped because his mentor and friend was dying; Leone was refused even one hour to see him so Leone escaped to visit him and went to the press about the warden's treatment of his prisoners, resulting in Drumgoole's transfer to Gateway and Leone serving five additional years in minimum security before his transfer.

Leone is mistreated by the guards and the boss of the inmates, Chink Weber, who is under control of Drumgoole. There he befriends fellow prisoners Dallas, Eclipse, and First-Base. The foursome refurbish a Ford Mustang, which Eclipse nicknames "Maybelline". After Leone reluctantly allows First-Base to start the car he refuses to turn it off and drives the Mustang out of the garage. Drumgoole has them watch as inmates destroy the car and Leone is subsequently sent to solitary confinement for six weeks.

Upon release, the warden wants an excuse to slap Leone with more time, so he allows prisoner Chink Weber and his bullying friends to kill First-Base in the gym. Leone fights and defeats Chink, but spares Chink's life because he knows that's precisely what Drumgoole wants. Since Leone didn't kill Chink one of Chink's friends stabs Leone from behind with a shank. Whilst Leone recovers in the prison infirmary, a stranger, says to him, that the warden has paid him to rape and murder Melissa. Dallas offers to help Leone escape to warn Melissa but instead delivers him to the utility basement right into Drumgoole's hands where he finds out that Drumgoole wanted him to try to escape so he would receive a mandatory 10-year sentence for the second escape attempt. Dallas agreed with the warden to lead Leone into a trap only if the warden would give Dallas an early release from prison, but the warden betrays Dallas. Dallas tries to attack the warden but the corrupt sadistic prison guards beat him up and push him into a pool of water. The warden then leaves the sadistic guards to physically abuse Leone. Leone breaks free. Dallas, badly beaten up, apologizes to Leone and helps him escape sacrificing his life and killing one of the guards on the way.

Enraged, Leone breaks into Drumgoole's office, takes him to the execution chamber and straps him to the electric chair. He activates the generator and secures his hand to the switch. The prison guards break into the execution chamber and point their weapons at Leone, but don´t shoot because of the situation. Under threat of being executed, the warden finally confesses to his plot to increase Leone's jail time. Leone pulls the switch anyway but nothing happens; he then reveals he took one of the fuses out before to trick the warden into confessing. Captain Meissner and his men cuff Frank, but they also take Drumgoole into custody for the legal confession.

A judicial inquiry is made into the matter about the warden's corrupt behavior and Leone serves only the jail time required of him in the first place. A few weeks later Frank leaves prison to the cheers of his fellow inmates and meets up with Eclipse one last time. He tells the Captain Meissner farewell, exits Gateway and embraces the waiting Melissa.



John Flynn later recalled how the movie was made:

Stallone had a “window,” which means the guy was available for a certain window of time. Larry Gordon had a terrible script set in a prison. Stallone calls James Woods and asks if I’m any good as a director. Woods says yeah, he’s a good director and you ought to work with him. So we have a director and a star, but no script. All we have is a theme - a guy escaping from prison. So we hire Jeb Stuart, who was then one of the hottest writers in Hollywood, to rewrite the script and we go off looking for prison locations. Now we have a star, a theme, a shooting date, a budget, a studio, but we still have no script. So we all go back to New York and move into a hotel where Larry “tortures” Jeb and Henry Rosenbaum into writing a script in record time. Meanwhile, I’m going around scouting prisons. We finally found one in Rahway, New Jersey. Jeb and Henry were writing the script as we were making the movie. New pages would come in every day. There was one day when I was on the third tier of a cellblock in Rahway Penitentiary and I had nothing to shoot. I had my movie star, all these extras and a great location - and the pages were on their way. So we sat around and bullshitted with the prisoners. Stallone is a smart guy and a very underrated actor. If I ever needed a better line, he’d come up with one. Stallone is a really hard worker. I had no problem whatsoever with him.[3]


Box Office

Lock Up did poorly at the American box office, making $22,099,847 on a budget of $24 million.[4]


Rotten Tomatoes, a review aggregator, reports that 17% of twelve surveyed critics gave the film a positive review; the average rating is 4.2/10.[5] Kevin Thomas of the Los Angeles Times wrote that Stallone "defies credibility to the point of inviting unintended laughter."[6] Hal Hinson of The Washington Post wrote, "Lock Up bears the unmistakable mark of a vanity production".[7]

The film was nominated for three Razzie Awards including Worst Picture, Worst Actor for Sylvester Stallone and Worst Supporting Actor for Donald Sutherland, but failed to win any of those categories.[8]

See also

  • Escape Plan, another Sylvester Stallone movie set in a prison.


  1. ^
  2. ^ "Lock Up (1989) - Box Office Mojo". Retrieved 2011-07-24. 
  3. ^ 2005Shock CinemaHarvey Chartand, "Interview with John Flynn",
  4. ^ Easton, Nina J. (1989-08-16). "Box Office Cold to Stallone's 'Lock Up' Role". The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2010-09-29. 
  5. ^ "Lock Up (1989)".  
  6. ^ Thomas, Kevin (1989-08-04). "'"Muscular Madness From Stallone in 'Lock Up. The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2010-09-29. 
  7. ^ "Lock Up". Washington Post. 1989-08-04. Retrieved 2010-09-29. 
  8. ^

External links

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