I Am a Fugitive from a Chain Gang

I Am a Fugitive from a Chain Gang ★★★★½

Flying in just ahead the Hayes Code, I Am a Fugitive from a Chain Gang is a rare breed of gut punch cinema that's hard to come by in the 1930's. The film and the autobiography on which it is based were so integral to dissolving the deplorable penal labor system in America that Warner Bros developed a reputation for being the "socially conscious" film studio. This is, categorically speaking, a message movie with all the heartache and frustration that that implies. It's loaded with tiny details, proving it to be an extensively researched production. It is inexorably authentic, but also dazzlingly artistic. Mervyn LeRoy's use of tableaus and montage is arresting, and Paul Muni's performance is out of this world. You needn't look further than 1932's double punch of this and Scarface to see how immensely talented he was.

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