Four convicts escape from a chain gang. Shortly thereafter, changes are made at the prison, because a blue ribbon commission will be investigating conditions there. The changes include ... See full summary »
Four convicts escape from a chain gang. Shortly thereafter, changes are made at the prison, because a blue ribbon commission will be investigating conditions there. The changes include steak every day for dinner and stage shows for entertainment. After reading about this, the four escapees plead with the warden to take them back in. Or was this all a dream? Written by
David Glagovsky <email@example.com>
Successful absurdist mockery of I Am a Fugitive from a Chain Gang
This is a 20-minute long spoof of I Am a Fugitive from a Chain Gang (1932), directed by Roy Mack and starring Jerry Bergen. It is now available on DVD as an extra on I Am a Fugitive.
Because this is also a Warner Brothers production, Mack actually begins with a shot, under the titles, from I Am a Fugitive--of the chain gang working along a curved dirt road on a hill. It segues right away to the main character's existence in the chain gang, and spoofs the scene of James Allen's (Paul Muni) escape. Bergen's character, also named Jerry, runs through the woods with three other men. Instead of bloodhounds, the prison guards run after them with poodles and a Lassie-like collie. Eventually, state officials are scheduled to visit the chain gang facility to make sure that everything is kosher. The warden implements "a few changes". The changes are very amusing, as they turn the prison into more of a resort/country club.
20,000 Cheers for the Chain Gang is best watched immediately after I Am a Fugitive. Many of the funniest scenes work because of the changes they make to the original film. However, there is a hilarious original "soda song" (which I would suspect might have been spoofing an early theatrical commercial) that supplies our heroes with the straws they will need for hiding in the swamp, and later on, 20,000 Cheers becomes something of a vaudeville review.
At times, 20,000 Cheers plays a bit seriously--I didn't know anything about it when I first started watching it and thought it might have been just another chain gang film, and some of the musical performances are fairly serious. But the straighter moments are just as enjoyable, and they help emphasize the comedy. Quite often, the humor depends on gradually pulling serious material more and more towards absurdism.
The only downside to this short is that there's not more of it. It's good enough that a feature length spoof of I Am a Fugitive would have worked well.
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