Convicts 4 (aka Convicts Four): Millard Kauffman’s Prison Drama, Starring Ben Gazzara

Millard Kaufman directed Convicts 4 (aks “Convicts Four”) a prison drama that’s a fictionalized version of the life of death row convict John Resko, starring Ben Gazzara.

Convicts 4
Convicts 4.jpg

Tale begins on Christmas, when John Resko (Gazzara) wants to buy his baby daughter new teddy bear. In a shop, he tries to get the shopkeeper to sell it, promising to pay later. When the shopkeeper refuses, Resko grabs a gun, and in a fight, the latter is shot. Resko, only 18, is condemned to the electric chair.

Pardoned by the governor, Resko is sentenced to Dannemora Prison, where he can’t adjust, especially after hearing that his wife (Carmen Phillips) has left him and that his father (Jack Kruschen) has died.

Resko is befriended by fellow convicts like Iggy (Ray Walston) and Wino (Sammy Davis Jr.) who help him to pass the time. When he takes up art as hobby, Resko’s work is seen by art critic Carl Carmer (Vincent Price), who believes he shows promise.

In 1949, after 18 years in prison, Resko is released. His daughter (Susan Silo) and granddaughter are waiting when he gets out.

Ben Gazzara as John Resko
Stuart Whitman as Principal Keeper
Ray Walston as Iggy
Vincent Price as Carl Carmer
Rod Steiger as ‘Tiptoes’
Broderick Crawford as Warden
Dodie Stevens as Resko’s Sister
Jack Kruschen as Resko’s Father
Sammy Davis Jr. as Wino
Naomi Stevens as Resko’s Mother
Carmen Phillips as Connie Resko
Susan Silo as Cathy (as an adult)
Timothy Carey as Nick
Roland La Starza as Duke
Tom Gilson as Lefty
Jack Albertson as Art teacher


Directed by Millard Kaufman
Produced by A. Ronald Lubin
Screenplay by Millard Kaufman, loosely based on the 1959 memoir, “Reprieve, the Testament of John Resko.”
Music by Leonard Rosenman
Cinematography Joseph F. Biroc
Edited by George White
Distributed by Allied Artists Pictures Corporation

Release date: September 15, 1962

Running time: 105 minutes


TCM showed the movie on August 11, 2020.