IMDb > I Am a Fugitive from a Chain Gang (1932)
I Am a Fugitive from a Chain Gang
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I Am a Fugitive from a Chain Gang (1932) More at IMDbPro »

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I Am a Fugitive from a Chain Gang -- Paul Muni is a World War I vet who is wrongly convicted of armed robbery and is sentenced to hard labor where he endures gross humiliation and torture at the hands of a sadistic warden.
I Am a Fugitive from a Chain Gang -- Trailer for this classic action drama


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Down 11% in popularity this week. See why on IMDbPro.
Robert E. Burns (by)
Howard J. Green (screen play) ...
View company contact information for I Am a Fugitive from a Chain Gang on IMDbPro.
Release Date:
19 November 1932 (USA) See more »
Six sticks of dynamite that blasted his way to freedom... and awoke America's conscience!
Wrongly convicted James Allen serves in the intolerable conditions of a southern chain gang, which later comes back to haunt him. Full summary » | Full synopsis »
Nominated for 3 Oscars. Another 3 wins See more »
(16 articles)
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User Reviews:
A true classic AND a brave indictment. Excellent!!! See more (347 total) »


  (in credits order) (verified as complete)

Paul Muni ... James Allen
Glenda Farrell ... Marie Woods
Helen Vinson ... Helen
Noel Francis ... Linda

Preston Foster ... Pete

Allen Jenkins ... Barney Sykes

Berton Churchill ... The Judge
Edward Ellis ... Bomber Wells
David Landau ... The Warden
Hale Hamilton ... Rev. Robert Allen

Sally Blane ... Alice
Louise Carter ... James Allen's Mother
Willard Robertson ... Prison Board Chairman
Robert McWade ... F.E. Ramsey
Robert Warwick ... Fuller
William Le Maire ... A Texan (as William LeMaire)
rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Erville Alderson ... Police Chief (uncredited)
Irving Bacon ... Bill - Barber (uncredited)
Reginald Barlow ... Mr. Parker (uncredited)
James Bell ... Red (uncredited)
Everett Brown ... Sebastian T. Yale (uncredited)
Frederick Burton ... Southern Prison Official (uncredited)
A.S. 'Pop' Byron ... Cop in Barber Shop (uncredited)
Eddy Chandler ... Job Foreman (uncredited)
Wallis Clark ... Chicago Lawyer (uncredited)

G. Pat Collins ... Wilson (uncredited)
George Cooper ... Vaudevillian (uncredited)
Jack Curtis ... Prison Guard (uncredited)

Douglass Dumbrille ... District Attorney (uncredited)
J. Frank Glendon ... Arresting Officer (uncredited)
Lew Kelly ... Diner Cook (uncredited)

Jack La Rue ... Ackerman (uncredited)
Edward LeSaint ... Chamber of Commerce Chairman (uncredited)
Walter Long ... Blacksmith (uncredited)
Jack Low ... Big Prisoner (uncredited)
John Marston ... Prison Commissioner (uncredited)
Charles McAvoy ... Cop (uncredited)
Edward McNamara ... Second Warden (uncredited)

Charles Middleton ... Train Conductor (uncredited)

Dennis O'Keefe ... Café Chateau Dancer (uncredited)
William Pawley ... Doggy (uncredited)
Charles Sellon ... Hot Dog Stand Owner (uncredited)
Allen D. Sewall ... Train Station Guard (uncredited)
Lee Shumway ... Arresting Officer (uncredited)
William H. Strauss ... Pawnbroker (uncredited)
Sheila Terry ... Allen's Secretary (uncredited)
Fred 'Snowflake' Toones ... Marine on Ship (uncredited)
Jack Wise ... Tailor (uncredited)
Harry Woods ... Prison Guard (uncredited)

John Wray ... Nordine (uncredited)

Directed by
Mervyn LeRoy 
Writing credits
Robert E. Burns (by)

Howard J. Green (screen play) &
Brown Holmes (screen play)

Sheridan Gibney  screen play (uncredited)

Produced by
Hal B. Wallis .... executive producer (uncredited)
Original Music by
Bernhard Kaun (uncredited)
Cinematography by
Sol Polito (photography)
Film Editing by
William Holmes (edited by)
Art Direction by
Jack Okey 
Costume Design by
Orry-Kelly (gowns)
Second Unit Director or Assistant Director
Al Alleborn .... assistant director (uncredited)
Camera and Electrical Department
Robert H. Wagner .... camera operator (uncredited)
Costume and Wardrobe Department
Eugene Joseff .... costume jeweller (uncredited)
Music Department
Leo F. Forbstein .... conductor: Vitaphone Orchestra
Other crew
S.H. Sullivan .... technical director
Robert E. Burns .... consultant (uncredited)
S. Charles Einfeld .... general press agent (uncredited)
Jack Miller .... technical director (uncredited)
Crew verified as complete

Production CompaniesDistributorsOther Companies

Additional Details

Also Known As:
92 min (Turner library print)
Aspect Ratio:
1.37 : 1 See more »
Sound Mix:
Mono (original release)
Argentina:13 | Australia:PG | Finland:K-16 (1946) | Finland:(Banned) (1933) | Norway:16 (1933) | Sweden:15 (cut) | USA:Not Rated | USA:Approved (certificate number not assigned at release) | USA:Approved (re-release: PCA #2647-R, 3 September 1936) | West Germany:16

Did You Know?

Paul Muni was not as impressed with Mervyn LeRoy upon first meeting him in Jack L. Warner's Burbank office. Warner made the introductions, but Muni did not say anything to LeRoy. Instead, he turned to Warner and said, "Is he the director, that kid?" Despite that inauspicious beginning, the director and the star became close friends. When Muni died in 1967, the only two people from the film industry present at his funeral were LeRoy and Muni's agent.See more »
Errors made by characters (possibly deliberate errors by the filmmakers): After James Allen's second escape from the chain gang, the last newspaper article shown states that he escaped "A little more than a year ago...". In the (final) scene that follows, Helen says to him, "It's been almost a year since you escaped."See more »
Pete:I'm hungry. What would you say to a hamburger?
James Allen:What would I say to a hamburger? Boy. I'd take Mr. Hamburger by the hand and say, "Pal, I haven't seen you for a long, long time."
See more »
Movie Connections:
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21 out of 25 people found the following review useful.
A true classic AND a brave indictment. Excellent!!!, 1 August 2002
Author: Night Must Fall from Awestruck, NYC

Without a doubt, this is one of the finest films I have seen. Paul Muni's performance is so good, it's practically indescribable. I thought he was extremely believable as the unduly accused and convicted James Allen. This story will rip your heart out, and rightly so. The film is very well done in every way, down to the smallest detail (best example of this: the disgusting looking prison food – if you can call it that). The use of newspaper headlines is extremely effective, as well as the very realistic scenes in the prison and work yard, and the whole environment in which Allen must live. The viewer can almost feel Allen's pain as the other inmate hammers away at his leg chains to give him a glimpse of hope toward freedom. However, even the scenes of Allen's life on the outside still evoke a sense of foreboding. This is a very powerful film.

I saw it as part of the Essentials series on Turner Classic Movies, and Robert Osborne said that the real-life protagonist on whom this film is based acted as a consultant. Since he was still on the run, however, he was not credited. The whole situation is so sad, and this sadness and feeling of oppression hang over the film with such realism, that sometimes it is as though you are watching Allen's life caught on videotape, instead of a motion picture. It is extremely gripping and downbeat, with a killer ending. The fact that it's a true story just adds to the pervasive feeling of doom. Way ahead of its time, and a brave picture to make in its indictment of the justice system. WOW.

TWO FAVORITE MOMENTS: 1) Allen looking directly at the policeman in the barbershop with a determined, steely glare, as if suddenly realizing that he will not be recognized, and simply defying the cop to recognize him. The barber doesn't recognize him either, even though the cop and barber have just been describing Allen. This scene, I am sure, meant to emphasize the incompetence of the police and justice system, without using any words to do so. Fantastically done. I am in awe.

2) Chain gang inmate Barney Sykes (played by supreme character actor Allen Jenkins), finally released from jail, is offered a ride from the prison staff, who are carting the coffin of a dead inmate off the grounds. Very matter-of-factly, as though he has done this before (and thus demonstrating the de-humanizing effects of prison life) Sykes hops up onto the back of the truck and sits right on the coffin. Upon seeing this out the window, the other inmates ruminate on the fact that there are only two ways to leave the chain gang – `get let out, or die out.'

I will not give the ending away, but if it doesn't move you to tears, I don't know what will. Haunting.

My ONLY (minor) problem with the film is that all of the ladies in Allen's life look so similar, I could barely tell them apart!


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Weak & full of plot holes???! Seriously??! foucaultmichele
Just watched this...weak script. santiken
Georgia or Virginia? boazbenjamin
definately my #1 favorite movie massiveaction5
Criminally underrated classicmoviecomedy
What are the words to, Raise Em Higgggghhh..... esor-2
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