Number 1 in the IMDB top 250 and until a couple of weeks ago a film I hadn’t seen. Made in 1994 and set in 1940/50’s and directed by Frank Darabont it stars Tim Robbins and Morgan Freeman and tells the story of Andy Dufresne (Tim Robbins) a banker who is sentenced to 2 life sentences for the murder of his wife and her lover despite his claims of his innocence. During his time he befriends a fellow inmate Ellis Boyd Redding (Morgan Freeman) known as Red and gets Red to get him a small Rock Hammer and a poster of Rita Hayworth.
During his first months at prison Andy is regularly beaten by “the sisters” a couple of years later whilst working on fixing a roof with a gang of prisoners he overhears the Captain of the guards complain about being taxed on his inheritance, Andy offers to help his legally shelter the money. After one beating from the sisters that nearly kills Andy, the guards take revenge on their leader Bogs and cripple him and he is transferred to another prison. The Warden transfers Andy to work in the Prison Library and over a period of time the Warden gets Andy to manage his financial matters and then the rest of the prison employees, during his time in the library Andy starts writing letters asking for funds from the State government to improve the library.
Several years later Andy receives a donation for the library including a record of The Marriage of Figaro which he manages to play over the Public Address system after locking himself in a room, he receives solitary confinement for this but he tells Red that it has given him hope now. The warden then starts using the prisoners for public works and starts undercutting skilled labour and receives bribes and gets Andy to launder the money using an alias (Randall Stephens). The following year a prisoner (Tommy Williams) befriends Andy and Andy helps him study for his GED, during this time Tommy hears about the reason why Andy is locked up and tells a story about a former cellmate that confessed to him about committing this crime. When Andy hears about this he speaks to the warden but the warden refusing to listen and sends Andy to Soliatary confinement and then has Tommy killed by tricking him to being in an area outside of the prison so it looks like he’s escaping. After Andy has been released from Soliatry confinement he tells Red his plan on his release and gets him to promise to visit a tree in a field in Buxton, Maine, Red promises this but doesn’t believe either of them will get released. One day after Andy mentions to Red about having enough and Red finds that Andy has got 6 feet of rope from another prisoner Andy is not present at Roll Call, Red believes that Andy has hung himself but when the guards enter the cell it is empty, the warden then throws one of Andy’s rocks at the poster on his wall (now Raquel Welch) and it rips and they find that there is a tunnel that Andy has dug using the rock hammer behind it and he has escaped.
Andy after escaping having taken the Wardens clothes too, visits the banks posing as Randall Stephens and withdraws the money that he help laundered and then sends the ledger and the rest of the operation paperwork to a local paper which in turn prints the corruption and the FBI swaps on the prison and arrest the captain of the guards and whilst trying to get into the Warden’s office, he commits suicide. Shortly afterwards after spending 40 years in prison Red is paroled, he struggles to adjust to outside life but remembers his promise to Andy and visits the tree and finds money and a letter asking Red to come to Zihuatanejo in Mexico to work with him, he travels to Mexico breaking his parole and finds Andy working on a boat on the beach and they’re reunited.
I can’t believe it took me so long to watch this film and I thought was very good and certainly deserves to be in the top films on the IMDB. It works really well and I thought Tim and Morgan are outstanding in this and this is a must watch film.