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 -- Trailer for this classic action drama

Overview

User Rating:
8.0/10   7,785 votes »
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Director:
Writers:
Robert E. Burns (by)
Howard J. Green (screen play) ...
(more)
Contact:
View company contact information for I Am a Fugitive from a Chain Gang on IMDbPro.
Release Date:
19 November 1932 (USA) See more »
Genre:
Tagline:
Six sticks of dynamite that blasted his way to freedom... and awoke America's conscience!
Plot:
Wrongly convicted James Allen serves in the intolerable conditions of a southern chain gang, which later comes back to haunt him. Full summary » | Add synopsis »
Awards:
Nominated for 3 Oscars. Another 3 wins See more »
User Reviews:
Chained for Life See more (281 total) »

Cast

  (in credits order) (verified as complete)

Paul Muni ... James Allen
Glenda Farrell ... Marie
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. Allen
Sally Blane ... Alice
Louise Carter ... Mother
Willard Robertson ... Prison Board Chairman
Robert McWade ... Attorney
Robert Warwick ... Fuller
William Le Maire ... A Texan (as William LeMaire)
rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Erville Alderson ... Police Chief (uncredited)
Irving Bacon ... Bill (uncredited)
Reginald Barlow ... Parker (uncredited)
James Bell ... Red (uncredited)
Everett Brown ... Sebastian T. Yale (uncredited)
Frederick Burton ... Southern Prison Official (uncredited)
A.S. 'Pop' Byron ... Cop in Barbershop (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 ... 2nd 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)
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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)
 
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)
 
Costume and Wardrobe Department
Eugene Joseff .... costume jeweller (uncredited)
 
Music Department
Leo F. Forbstein .... conductor: Vitaphone Orchestra
Bernhard Kaun .... composer: music cues (uncredited)
 
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


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Additional Details

Also Known As:
Runtime:
92 min (Turner library print)
Country:
Language:
Aspect Ratio:
1.37 : 1 See more »
Sound Mix:
Mono (original release)
Certification:
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)

Did You Know?

Trivia:
The final fade came as an accident. Director Mervyn LeRoy had planned to go to a blackout after the final line. During rehearsals, a light blew, taking the fuse with it. The resultant slow fade, starting just before the final line, was so powerful that Leroy decided to shoot the film exactly that way.See more »
Goofs:
Continuity: When James Allen is getting a shave he asks the barber for a hot towel and when he does this the left side of his face is covered in shaving cream. When the barber returns with the towel the left side of his face has no shaving cream on it.See more »
Quotes:
[last lines]
Helen:How do you live?
James Allen:I steal.
See more »
Movie Connections:
Soundtrack:
Someone to Care ForSee more »

FAQ

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19 out of 22 people found the following review useful.
Chained for Life, 23 November 2001
Author: lugonian from Kissimmee, Florida

I AM A FUGITIVE FROM A CHAIN GANG (Warner Brothers, 1932), expertly directed by Mervyn LeRoy, is one of those rare movies released during the early 1930s to really stand the test of time. Although not the very first film to deal with prison injustice and harsh conditions, this is probably the best of its kind. Based on the story by Robert Burns, a war veteran who twice escaped from a chain gang in Georgia, it seems likely that Warner Brothers would be the only movie studio willing to take risks dealing with a social protest story, but here it is. And while actors like Spencer Tracy or James Cagney might have taken up such a challenge for the role, playing it to conviction, as fate would have it, Paul Muni has turned out to be the best and only choice.

The photoplay focuses on a World War Army veteran named James Allen (Paul Muni), who served his country, earning his medals and now respect of his small community. Regardless of being offered back his old job, he decides to find himself by drifting from state to state, job to job, until he finds something to his liking. Along the way, Jim innocently becomes involved in a robbery by a guy named Pete (Preston Foster). A shoot out occurs by the police, killing Pete and arresting Jim. Because the money was found on his person, the judge (Berton Churchill) sentences Jim to ten years of hard labor in a chain gang prison camp. Due to harsh conditions in a living hell, Jim makes a successful escape, becoming a model citizen over the years rising to the top of his profession in a construction firm, only to be betrayed by his gold-digging wife, Marie (Glenda Farrell) for wanting a divorce so he could marry Helen (Helen Vinson), a socialite. Because of his expose to the media, Jim finds he'll never be given his promised freedom after serving 90 days. He makes his second daring escape into the new world now hit by the Great Depression. In spite of his new found freedom, he finds he'll always be chained for life as a wanted fugitive.

Not exactly a family oriented movie, "I Am a Fugitive" is a dark and very realistic drama told in documentary style with a touch of "film noir." It includes violence, though mostly taken place off screen, such as the flogging of the convicts who groan out their pain. Unlike other chain gang movies, this one doesn't feature punished convicts being placed in sweat boxes for long periods of time. While Paul Muni would achieve success in later years for his biographical dramas, winning an Academy Award as Best Actor for "The Story of Louis Pasteur" (Warners, 1936), his role as the doomed Jim Allen, victim of circumstance, is obviously his best and most remembered performance. What makes Muni so different from the other screen actors is that Muni doesn't just play a character, he BECOMES that character.

Full of memorable scenes too numerous to mention, the one that stands out is the scene where Jim, after being brought back to the chain gang on a promise for parole and release within a year, is awaken from his bed by one of the guards to be told that his appeal has been denied and that he will have to serve out his original ten-year sentence. Hearing this, Jim, with unshaved face and looking fairly dirty, looks straight into the camera with tears slowly flowing through his eyes with the expression of disgust and betrayal, making fists with his hands before resting down his head on the pillow. As for the prison escapes, they are well staged, with the second escape more exciting than the first.

Taking support in this hard-hitting drama are Louise Carter (Mrs. Allen); Sally Blane (Alice); Allen Jenkins (Barney, a fellow convict); Edward Ellis (Bomber Wells, Jim's cell-mate); David Landau (First Warden); Edward McNamara (Second Warden); Noel Francis (Linda, the lady of the evening who makes Jim's night's lodging "comfortable") and James Bell as the ill-fated convict who suffers from stomach pains. When the movie played on local television back in the 1960s and 70s, it was presented under a shorter title, "I Am a Fugitive," but when distributed to video cassette in the 1980s, its complete title was restored. Other than Paul Muni's Academy Award nomination as Best Actor for his performance as Jim Allen, the movie was honored the Best Picture award, losing "Cavalcade" (Fox, 1933).

After all these years, "I Am a Fugitive" remains a fast-pace man-on-the-run drama, which holds interest throughout its 93 minutes of screen time, and not so easily to forget once it is all over. With the chain gang system being virtually a thing of the past (younger viewers might ask, "What is a chain gang?"), the movie is a curious look back as to how prison conditions were like in the early part of the twentieth century, and how the judicial system has changed since then. "I Am a Fugitive" available on both VHS and DVD formats, has become a frequent revival on Turner Classic Movies. (****)

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