I Am a Fugitive From a Chain Gang (1932)
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as James Allen
as Second Warden
as District Attorney
as Bomber Wells
as Rev. Robert Clinton Allen
as Prison Commissioner
as Mrs. Allen
as Allen's Secretary
as Chairman, Chamber of Commerce
as Train Conductor
as Hot Dog Stand Owner
as Chief of Police
as Mike, Proprietor of Diner
as Sebastian T. Yale
as Georgia Prison Official
as Barber Bill
as Arresting Officer
as Arresting Officer
as Dance Extra
Critic Reviews for I Am a Fugitive From a Chain Gang
Based on a true story, its style is simple, direct, forceful -- even after more than six decades.
I Am a Fugitive from a Chain Gang is a picture with guts. It grips with its stark realism and packs lots of punch.
Muni gives a brilliant performance as a regular guy wrongly convicted of murder and subjected to the hardships and beatings of a dehumanising chain gang regime.
A moody, nasty-minded crime movie full of rage and anchored by some deep, moody visuals.
There's enough here to make I Am a Fugitive From a Chain Gang worthwhile, but its problems are deep enough to keep it a long way from sniffing greatness.
Audience Reviews for I Am a Fugitive From a Chain Gang
Hot off the wheels from Howard Hawks' 1932 Scarface, Paul Muni gives a much more focused and compelling performance as the titular fugitive. The story is based on true events, and the injustices it evokes on the big screen infuriate accordingly. The female roles are (unfortunately) secondary to all other plot elements, but the film still warrants a viewing if but for the political uproar it brought about after exposing the chain gang system.
If you're not interested in the volatile performance of Paul Muni, the violence of a 30's chaingang, or a morally obscured storyline, then watch this film for its historical and cultural aspects. This film caused an uproar during the heyday of the Hays Code for its portrayal of chain gangs as abusive and negligent means of torture, which at the time was the preferred course of punishment in America. Muni is the original Andy Dufresne, innocent of his conviction, yet forced into hard labor, finally being prodded to escape. The only difference between Andy and James Allen (Muni), being the nature of the escapes, one leading to redemption, another forcing an honest man into a life of crime in order to escape the tragic circumstances of a deadly prison sentence. Besides that, Muni, one of the great stage and screen actors of his time, blew me away with his emotional variance. A gem among Hollywood treasure.
One of the greatest and most famous of the social imperative films of the pre-Hayes Code 1930's, I Am A Fugitive From A Chain Gang depicts a man's decade long battle to attain the unattainable, peace. A truly fantastic Paul Muni plays James Allen, a returning WWI vet who gets wrongfully arrested and sentenced to ten years hard labor at an abhorrent southern work camp. There he -- and 1930's audiences -- witnessed the atrocities of the chain gang institution in the American south. And that was the point -- to expose its cruelty and incite reform. For all its cynicism, this Mervyn Leroy classic is still an absorbing and exciting portrait of one man's hell: from combat to prison to fugitive life, and then finally to the shadowy, soul-sucked, madness that comes with a life fraught with such hardship. Muni's tour-de-force induces not only sympathy, but anger toward the heartless miscarriages of justice that condemn Allen throughout the film. I was by turns enthralled, enlightened, heartbroken, and frustrated by his journey from start to finish. Leroy's 1932 film is a fiery indictment of the chain gang hypocrisy that often lacks subtlety, but never power.
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