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Alcatraz: The Whole Shocking Story (5 November 1980)

Appearing as Walt Stomer

Synopsis from the Warner Brothers Presskit:

This two-part miniseries gives the first factual accounts of what life on “The Rock” was really like, and tells the true stories of the two most famous attempted escapes in 1946 and 1962. One man involved in both of the breakouts was Clarence Carnes -- the youngest man ever imprisoned at Alcatraz, and the man who served the longest stretch (18 years) on “The Rock.”

Part One: The story begins in 1943 as Clarence Carnes (Michael Beck), a Choctaw Indian living in Oklahoma, gets bored with a life of poverty and stages a robbery with an Indian friend, who kills someone during the robbery. Carnes is sent to prison, from which he tries to escape in 1944. He is caught and returned. In 1945 he is sent to the federal penitentiary at Leavenworth, Kansas. Later that year he is moved to Alcatraz, because it is escape-proof.

The associate warden at Alcatraz is Jughead Miller (Alex Karras). Carnes is sent to detection, where he dreams of escape. It is in detection that he meets Coy (Ronny Cox). As Carnes fends off a homosexual inmate, a fight ensues and he is sent to solitary. Through Coy, he meets Cretzer (Telly Savalas). Soon Carnes learns the ropes and agrees to join Cretzer’s escape plan.

On May 26, 1946, several prison guards are taken hostage. Robert Stroud (Art Carney), “the bird man,” refuses to take part in the escape attempt and warns Carnes against it also, as he has been left to guard the hostages. Jughead and Warden Johnson (Charles Aidman) grow alarmed, as Coy and Cretzer want to kill the hostages for revenge. Cretzer does murder one of them as the other guards and marines are closing in. Carnes is ordered to kill the remaining hostages, but he cannot. As the attack culminates, Coy, Cretzer and two of the guards are left dead. Two other convicts involved survive, but are later executed. Carnes is named an unwilling participant and sentenced to life imprisonment.

Part Two: It is 1953 and Clarence Carnes has been in the hole since 1946. As a result of his internment, he becomes close to Stroud, who has been incarcerated for 27 years for the death of a guard. The new warden returns Carnes to the general prison population, but instructs the guards and all personnel to keep a close eye on him and to monitor all his movements.

Carnes works in the library and is helped by Stomer (James MacArthur), Bumpy (John Amos) and Frank Morris. Stomer, Morris and the Anglin brothers plan an escape. Carnes is invited to join them, but he insists on being the leader. The others agree to this and he begins instructing them on his complicated details. They are about to move on the escape when they learn of how closely Carnes is being watched. They tell him that he cannot jeopardize their plans, so he must not be a part. He reluctantly agrees, but still wants to help in the details ... to prove that Alcatraz is not escape proof, hoping this will mean the end of the prison. Morris and the Anglin brothers manage to escape.

On May 15, 1963, Alcatraz is closed. Clarence Carnes is returned to Leavenworth, Kansas, where he stays until his parole in 1973.

To view a full image gallery from this film click here.

James MacArthur

James MacArthur

James MacArthur, Michael Beck

James MacArthur

James MacArthur

James MacArthur, Ed Lauter

James MacArthur

James MacArthur

James MacArthur

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