|Perry Lopez and Kenneth Tobey|
Ed Novak (Perry Lopez) is a cocky hothead and bookie who, after being arrested, is told if he tells all he knows about the operations of Steve Madden (Ted de Corsia) he''ll get a greatly reduced sentence. Loyal to the undeserving Madden, he refuses, much to the heartbreak of his wife, Frances (Beverly Garland), who doesn't care about the fur coats he gives her and hopes he'll get an honest job after serving his time. Madden is also in jail and Ed tries to ingratiate himself with the mob boss, who comes to like him. Ed witnesses the murder of a guard which Madden was responsible for and still refuses to talk, leading to serious complications and an unexpected kidnapping ... Lopez gives a good lead performance in this, which also boasts fine work from Garland, Walter Abel [Mirage] as the no-nonsense warden, and Kenneth Tobey as a sympathetic if somewhat sappy prison shrink. Allison Hayes has a small role [playing a "Mrs. Archer" as she later would in her classic Attack of the 50 Foot Woman] as a neighbor of Novak's who has some information; Joe Flynn [McHale's Navy] is a prisoner; and Malcolm Atterbury plays a chatty mailman. Gregory Walcott of Plan 9 from Outer Space plays the guard, Weaver. The Steel Jungle is an acceptable prison melodrama with some effective performances. Lopez had a long list of credits.
Verdict: Reasonably engaging potboiler. **1/2.