DirectorMax Anderson Initial DVD release2010 (United Kingdom) Duration CountryUnited Kingdom
WriterMark Benney (dialogue) Release date1950 (1950) CastArthur Mullard, William Mervyn Similar moviesLove Crimes of Kabul (2011)
Four Men In Prison is a 1950 documentary film about English prison conditions directed by Max Anderson. Filmed at Wakefield Prison, it was commissioned for the purpose of educating people involved in criminal justice.
The film was criticised for being inaccurate and sensational, and was quickly withdrawn.
The film was made for educational purposes by the Central Office of Information to be shown privately to magistrates and others who were involved in administering criminal justice. The Home Office initiated production of the film, which cost £16,000. It was one of three produced under Donald Taylor at the Crown Film Unit and completed in 1950. John Grierson was the producer and the film was directed by Max Anderson.
The film deals with penology. It is semi-documentary. It depicts the impact that living in prison has on four very different offenders. One is serving a short sentence for a first-time offence, one is a youthful thief who is mentally sub-normal, one is being given training to prevent him from turning into a habitual criminal and the fourth is a hardened criminal who knows the ropes of prison existence.
The film was aired for the first time at a magistrate's conference. The reaction was immediate and public, with the film condemned for inaccuracy and sensationalism. The magistrates said the first offender and the mentally defective thief would not in fact have been sentenced in jail. The film "disappeared under a ban of official disapproval."