Tagline – Six sticks of dynamite that blasted his way to freedom… and awoke America’s conscience!
Starring – Paul Muni (James Allen), Glenda Farrell (Marie Woods), Helen Vinson (Helen), Noel Francis (Linda), Preston Foster (Pete).
Released – November, 1932
Directed By – Mervyn LeRoy
Produced By – Warner Brothers
Distributed By – Warner Brothers
Description – James Allen has been wrongly convicted of a crime and sentenced to 10 years on a chain gang. He manages to escape to Chicago hoping to remain undetected.
James finds success in the construction business and begins a relationship with boardinghouse proprietor Marie Woods. Marie learns of his secret and blackmails him into marriage. With unhappiness back into his life, James gets lucky and meets and falls in love with Helen.
However, his luck does not last long. James asks Marie for a divorce only to be promptly betrayed by her to the authorities. The only life left for James is alone and on the run.
NOTABLE: I Am a Fugitive From a Chain Gang was nominated for three Academy Awards – Best Picture, Best Actor in a Leading Role (Paul Muni), and Best Sound, Recording.
In 1991, I Am a Fugitive From a Chain Gang was selected for inclusion in the United States National Film Registry.
The film was written by Howard J. Green and Brown Holmes from Robert Elliott Burns’s autobiography, I Am a Fugitive from a Georgia Chain Gang.
Personal Comment: An excellent film with a haunting ending that still stuns today. The brutality of a corrupt court, as portrayed in this film, caused such public concern regarding the legitimacy of America’s legal system that it allowed for a number of nationwide chain gang prisoners to appeal their convictions and gain release.