Maybe it was that echo of Alcatraz in Waterschei, but tonight, as part of our ‘programme’ of post-US trip films, we watched Don Siegel’s Escape from Alcatraz (1979). It’s only a slight exaggeration to write that the film, and Clint Eastwood in it, are as good as The Eiger Sanction, also with Clint Eastwood in it, was bad. It’s a simple story, based broadly on a true one, of the escape of three men from a prison from which it had previously been boasted that prisoners simply couldn’t escape. Eastwood plays according to type: the tough, taciturn loner who knows his own mind, stands up for himself and, in the end, gets what he wants. What gave the film added poignancy for us was, first, that it was filmed on location on Alcatraz itself, and so the action took place in the cell blocks and recreation grounds we had so recently visited and, second, that we had seen for ourselves the air vents that the men had chiselled out with spoons and nail files before slipping through and climbing up a ventilation shaft to the prison roof, and we had seen the dummy heads they had placed in their beds and which fooled the guards, giving the three a precious night to make their getaway. Did they make it through the icy waters and strong currents of the Bay to Angel Island? The film strongly implies that they did. Certainly, their makeshift raft made it to Angel Island, where its remains were discovered. None of the three were murderers, and by portraying the prison governor as a sadist, the film appeals to the romantics in all of us. Morris and the Anglin brothers would be in their eighties now (86, 82 and 81 respectively). Are they out there somewhere and, if so, did they raise their glasses on 11 June this year, the 50th anniversary of their 1962 escape?