The character played by Joe King is shown in the opening credits as Moett. On the TCM print every time this character is mentioned it's clear the actors are saying Metcalf even though the sound drops out as if being censored. See more »
Framed for crimes they did not commit, two young men are sentenced to five years at hard labor on a Southern prison's brutal ROAD GANG.
Here is a fine example of the type of crime film which Warner Bros. produced so well. Although there are no big stars in the film, the acting is generally good, the stifling atmosphere is well maintained and the production values - especially in the prison camp/mine sequences - are of a high standard.
Donald Woods makes a sturdy, stalwart hero; made to endure various humiliations & punishments, he never wavers in his fight for justice. This is quite typical of the fine performances Woods gave during his career. Kay Linaker is enjoyable as his courageous fiancée.
The film is sparked by a handful of noteworthy performances among the large cast: Carlyle Moore Jr. as Woods faithful, tragic buddy; Henry O'Neill as a slick, utterly corrupt politician; Edward Van Sloan as a shyster lawyer; Olin Howlin as the lethargic prison doctor; and Charles Middleton as the Blackfoot Mine's vile warden.
ROAD GANG was a partial re-make of Warner's' hit film from four years earlier, I AM A FUGITIVE FROM A CHAIN GANG (1932), starring Paul Muni. In the days of the studio factory system, when churning out one picture after another in an almost endless supply was vitally important, it was not at all unusual to recycle the plots of successful A movies. The B pictures department would change elements here & there (ROAD GANG has a much happier ending than the Muni film), and release an entirely new picture, hoping for another winner. This was the first film scripted by the young Dalton Trumbo, destined to be famous for more than just his celebrated screenwriting abilities.
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