The Shawshank Redemption 1.0 stars

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One of the worst titles to the left or right of the Robert Ludlum portion of the bookshelves. But then, the original title of the Stephen King novella, Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption, belongs with When You Comin' Back, Red Ryder? and Come Back to the Five and Dime, Jimmy Dean, Jimmy Dean in a special display case of the worst titles, period. The movie proper does not quite live down to its name. Overloading itself with Significance, it badly misjudges its episodic drolleries detailing the twenty-year prison career of a wrongly accused murderer (Tim Robbins, talking in a sotto voce monotone), who makes many friends on the inside and one above all (the formidable Morgan Freeman), and who single-handedly builds up the prison library, serves as financial consultant to the guards (besides money-launderer to the warden), and pulls a locked-room disappearing act that will momentarily tantalize the fans of John Dickson Carr. Writer and director Frank Darabont, however, mistakes brutality, crudity, and sentimentality for power, earthiness, and empathy, respectively. Or irrespectively. He needs desperately to pick up the pace, to shave off somewhere between a half and a whole hour, to be disabused of the idea that he is making another La Grande Illusion. Either that, or he needs a long-range plan more ambitious than simple feel-goodism.

Duncan Shepherd

Length: 2 hours, 30 minutes

Rated: R

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