All the films from all the editions, including those subsequently removed, presently totalling 1167. An easy way of seeing how…
I Am a Fugitive from a Chain Gang
Warner Bros.' hard-hitting chain-gang movie was a faithful adaptation of the similarly titled autobiography of Robert Elliot Burns. Paul Muni plays World War I veteran James Allen, whose plans of becoming a master architect evaporate in the cold light of economic realities. Times get really tough when he's falsely convicted of a crime and forced to work on a chain gang.
With one foot still in the silent era, and the other revelling in the state of affairs prior to the Hays code, I am a Fugitive from a Chain Gang dips in quality now and then, mostly due to Muni not yet fully adapting to a wider range of possibilities when expressing emotions. He's got a great face, but there really is no need for that much expressions in a talkie.
Mervyn LeRoy's film is a scathing attack on a penal system just as topical today as it was then, unfortunately, with the powers that be still blind to the fact that punishment is not the deterrent they claim and believe it to be.
It keeps a…
Paul Muni had such a tremendously expressive face. The weight of the world is communicated entirely through it in this excellent proto-noir, a marvellous depiction of the hardship of life for soldiers returned from the Great War. The First Blood of its time, I Am a Fugitive from a Chain Gang has a lot to say about contemporary society, and an impressive visual style with which to say it. Mervyn LeRoy brings an accomplished eye to the story, the many shadows and bars which fill his frames an omnipresent reminder of the entrapment Allen feels within a society that refuses to accept him as he now is. This is a damn important movie in the history of American film, a great story not afraid to condemn aspects of its surrounding culture, and one of the best exemplars of the Pre-Code era I've seen.
a+ use of shots of newspaper editorials as exposition and fluttering calendar pages to indicate the passage of time
The socially conscious elements are as bold and (sadly) relevant as ever, but what rockets this into being one of my favorite movies is the masterful sustaining of tension. It really captures what it must be like to escape from prison and to be on the run afterward. Some of it even hits proto-Hitchcock territory - I particularly like the shaving scene and its tension-breaking punchline. And the famous ending is a nice relief from the often artificial Hollywood endings, bleak and socially significant.
Adapted from the true story of Robert E. Burns, this movie wears its social consciousness on its sleeves as much as lead Paul Muni--as James Allen--wears the weight of the world on his face.
It is all the better for it, and not only taking on one issue also helps the overall feel of it all. Yes, it'll always be closely linked to the inhumanity of chain gangs of the south, but I found the smoother touches upon the treatment of veterans of war almost as important.
This movie isn't perfect, and I was picturing it landing at four stars because of its flaws, but the more I think about as I write these lines... While it's somewhat flawed and…
Very interesting 1930s piece of cinema. Social commentary, not something usually noted from that era, is really played out well here as a wrongly accused James Allen is sent to a chain gang after being tricked into committing a robbery.
This film caused a lot of controversy when it was released, even being banned in the state of Georgia.
It's all based on a true story too!
ANOTHER great Paul Muni performance from 1932. The final shot is one of the very best I can remember.
A decorated soldier (Paul Muni) returns from WWI with ambitions to become an engineer. Hard times and injustice put him on the chain gang instead. With Glenda Farrell as a no-good dame.
If I recall correctly, this was cited by Hitchcock as one of his favorite films when he first arrived in America. I don't know if I'd go that far, but it certainly does make compelling watching and Muni is great.
Powerful story wonderfully acted and beautifully filmed. I was shocked and appalled to discover that it was based on the true story of Robert Elliott Burns.
This film is based on a fascinating true story about a guy returning from service after World War 1, wanting to become an engineer but ending up with a prison sentence after becoming accidentally caught up in a crime and unable to prove his innocence. Then it moves on to expose the brutal chain gang system that was in place in the 20s in the South. Our hero eventually escapes from that ordeal and becomes a successful engineer but he's wanted and when his landlady finds out she blackmails him into marriage and then turns him in when he tries to get a divorce. He escapes again after being denied a pardon deal he was promised. The real life character…
Great acting and heartbreaking plot. And it's a true story!
A short but gritty film over the penal system of the early 20th century. Muni gives a fine performance.
The type of direct unsubtle social commentary that Mervyn LeRoy's I Am a Fugitive from a Chain Gang peddles seems like old hat as modern film making goes, but understandably was rather brash for it's time. Cinema was viewed as merely entertainment for most of it's early years, and to see such a harsh indictment opened the eyes of audiences coming merely to see a crime drama. It helps that LeRoy's film takes such a gradual approach to it's topic, starting out slow and carefully ramping up the outrage, sympathy, and emotion of it's tragic story to build our anger along with its protagonist's. This makes it a slow starter, but Paul Muni does an excellent job at making his…
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