All the films from all the editions, including those subsequently removed, presently totalling 1187. An easy way of seeing how…
I Am a Fugitive from a Chain Gang
Six sticks of dynamite that blasted his way to freedom... and awoke America's conscience!
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.
This bruising, brutal slab of social realism was made during that brief period when Hollywood had the opportunity, and the inclination, to take aim at the nation’s ills. In 1932-3, films like Heroes for Sale, Wild Boys of the Road, The Mayor of Hell and Gold Diggers of 1933 (ostensibly a throwaway musical) held a mirror up to Depression-era America, in all its cruelty, drudgery and despair. Packed with righteous rage, these explosive movies went off like dynamite, helping to set the national agenda and changing laws and lives. Then the Hays Code came in, and the mainstream simply wouldn’t touch progressive pictures (with the very rare exception, like Ford and Zanuck’s The Grapes of Wrath in 1940).
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…
This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.
I watched this film with no previous knowledge of its controversial history, only knowing that it is suppose to be a marvelous pre-code Hollywood production with a great Paul Muni performance. I watched the film and it took a toll on me with great effectiveness. I experienced a wide array of emotions from the social commentary and injustice the film had to offer. I knew there was something important about this film in the year and time it was made but I was in complete awe of its factual history when I read about it afterwards.
First I want to keep to the film which provided as much suspense and tension as a Hitchcock film. It is a edge of…
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.
"The State's promise didn't mean anything!"
It all starts with the title - confrontational, bold, no time to mince words but enough to make the point clear - it's not 'Chain Gang' or 'Fugitive' or 'Jailbreak' or whatever, in favor of a simple declarative statement that's impossible to ignore. The whole movie is like that, one of the earliest examples of super-cinema in which image and sound combine for a tactile, visceral experience, as uncompromising towards the viewer as it is towards the social injustice it exists to illuminate.
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.
A remarkable film from Hollywood right on the precipice of the enactment of the Hays Code, which would constrain American film until the 1960s and the end of the old studio system. This is inspired by a man's autobiographical account of his experiences with the Georgia prison system -- indeed, many of its seemingly implausible turns come straight out of the life of Robert Elliott Burns, who evidently was a sort of real-life Jean Valjean. Among the ways the film differs from the life is that Burns was self-admittedly guilty of the crime that got him sent to the chain gang, while the fictional James Allen is wrongfully convicted. This is, perhaps, a concession made by the filmmakers to guarantee…
good pre-code crime & punishment tale muni was Oscar nominated
What a powerful film about the conditions on the work camps in the south after the first world war. Paul Muni is even better than in "Scarface" as the lead and I think everyone who watches this film sympathizes with his character. It's easy to see where films like "Cool Hand Luke" got their inspiration from.
Paul Muni is great. He fully embodies the classic Hollywood outlaw that we all know and love from this era of film. He does an incredible job of acting with his face and using facial expressions to convey a message.
The story moved a little fast and the pacing often felt pretty choppy. The relationships hardly have time to develop with how quickly the film jumps forward in time. All the pieces are there; however, too much focus was put into exaggerating how terrible prison is and nothing else.
I thought it was a little ridiculous, with the main character being forced to work on a chain gang for 10 years after being forced into participating in a robbery, and then I found out the movie was based on someone's autobiography. Jeez...
This pre-code schlockfest is a bizarre masterpiece. It's as lurid as movies could get in the days before moralist shitbirds put the stomp on them. What's more, its moral panic is so screamingly obvious it's like being beaten over the head with a police baton. When you realize that the guy who wrote this book (it was his autobiography) was still in prison when the film was released, the moral panic seems far more justified. In any event, with the benefit of distance, it's campy fun. Just try not to think about all the grotesque problems in today's correctional system while you watch it. Or if you're a right-wing law & order type, I guess you can watch it and wank.
ul Muni is electrifying in this exceptionally tense prison drama. Considering it's the movie that turned Warner Bros. in the '30s into the "socially-conscious" Hollywood studio, it hasn't aged much at all. It dramatizes social issues with such passion that it scarcely matters that it stacks the deck in the protagonist's favor. Whenever it might seem that the plot might become routine, Muni's skittishness ensures the film remains riveting. Also, it's got one of the best endings of all time.
This movie was very interesting.
Perfect summer movie, especially for how hot this summer's been. Totally brutal, smothering pre-code violence and sadism that, unlike pretty much every film that ever followed it, manages to perfectly balance it's political goals with Hollywood thrills and excitement. Final shot is still a total heart-stopper. A+
High-rated movies with very few views. Suggestions are welcome.
Every film that has ever been nominated for an Academy Award in any category. Enjoy!