This superior British B-movie has a group of newly-sentenced prisoners en route to serve their sentence, only to find the bus transporting them held up by an armed gang so one of the prisoners – the dangerous gangster Bart Rennison (Tom Bowman) – can escape.
One of the prison guards is shot dead and the remainder of the prisoners and guards are locked in a barn which has been doused with paraffin with the gang threatening to set it alight if they try to escape before morning. To make matters worse – and as luck would have it – it’s also Guy Fawkes Night so there are fireworks flying about!
Karma catches up with Rennison early in the film when he and his accomplice – making their getaway in a speeding Austin Healey – crash on a humpback bridge at 80mph and are killed.
Meanwhile, back in the barn, we get to know the other prisoners:
Former army officer turned insurance man, Ronald Grey-Simmons (Alan Wheatley), has been sent down for embezzling his clients’ funds. He has taken a very noble attitude to his sentence, believing that since he has been found guilty he must serve his time and behave impeccably whilst inside.
Martin Lord (Terence Longden) is a man who was convicted of unlawful killing when he intervened against an intruder who was attempting to rape his wife. He had no intention of killing the man but the intruder fell, hitting his head on the fireplace, and died.
Lord strikes up a friendship with small-time cockney burglar Doug Roberts (Harry Fowler) and persuades him to turn over a new leaf, offering him a job on his poultry farm when they are both released.
Martin and Doug find a way out of the barn and sneak away so that Martin – who lives nearby – can spend some time with his beloved wife, Nita (Jennifer Jayne) before he goes to jail and begins his sentence.
While they are gone, paranoid and mentally unstable prisoner Victor Lush (Peter Sallis) strikes a match setting the barn on fire. Martin and Doug return just in time to rescue the trapped men, but Lush is trapped inside and is killed in the inferno.
The police arrive just before the credits roll and decide that Lord and Roberts deserve remission for their bravery.
Released in the US as Escape by Night.