All the films from all the editions, including those subsequently removed, presently totalling 1154. 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 relevant.
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…
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…
a thrilling, daring pre-code prison-break picture with an excellent performance from paul muni.
It has taken me a long time to get round to watching this. What makes it so gpod? Paul Muni is brilliant in the central role; it makes it clear you really wouldn't want to be on a chain gang in the American South in the first half of the last century; some really great dramatic, black and white photography; and like many prison movies it makes the point that in or out of gaol you are never really free. Has left a mark - or a scar - on most films featurung prisons ever since.
I can see how this was a big deal for its time, but with a lot of other "SOCIALLY IMPORTANT PICTURES!!!!!!!," it's dated irreparably from its time. Cinematically, though, I can see its importance as a blueprint for later movies to follow. Paul Muni was considered one of the finest actors of his era, but his style of acting and mugging for the camera is quite hammy and exaggerated now.
This is what campaigning journalism looks like on the big screen. And Muni's remorseless hunting down by the Georgian penal system is alleviated only by knowing it was a huge box office hit, that the real life protagonist helped on the screenplay and was eventually pardoned. A lot less sadistic violence in it than I remembered, seeing for 1st time on the big screen, 20 yrs after catching it on tv one afternoon. Worth comparing to 12 Years A Slave for its truth is stranger than fiction premise, and its unflinching presentation of a working civil system based on such cruelty, but disturbing in its own way as the abuse it documented was very much current. The portrayal of black…
I Like 1932's I Am A Fugitive From A Chain Gang, I Like It Because It Turned 80 Years Old In 2012.
I need to watch more Paul Muni movies. I Am a Fugitive From a Chain Gang has held up incredibly well with time. Part of this is due to Muni's great performance, but a lot of it has to do with the film having a lot of pre-code bite to it as it takes on a number of issues that were beginning to arise in a post WW1 America. The film does lose a bit of energy towards the end but manages to end strongly.
Concluding with one of the most haunting shots in all of American cinema, I Am a Fugitive from a Chain Gang is one of the great achievements of the pre-Code era – a problem picture so stirring that it actualized social change. Beyond memorably depicting the barbaric chain gangs of the American south in the early 20th century, it is one of the great pictures about a country failing its war veterans. Among its many lasting images, few are more silently devastating than a box of war medals in a pawn shop. Writers Brown Holmes and Howard J. Green nimbly condense the Robert Elliott Burns autobiography of the same title to ninety minutes and impressively represent the concision and effectiveness…
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