John Ingram of Oklahoma has a loving family, loves his work fighting oil fires, and is good at it. But 9 years ago, under another name he escaped from a Southern chain gang. Enter William Ramey, a "friend" from John's past, who gradually works up to a blackmail attempt under a promise to get Ingram cleared...but instead has him sent back to the old chain gang. Though determined to tough it out this time, circumstances compel Ingram to attempt another escape... Written by
Rod Crawford <firstname.lastname@example.org>
All chain gang movies take us on a journey. We start with a nice guy, usually innocent, being brutalized on a chain gang until he becomes a seething mass of controlled rage out for vengeance. This movie is no exception.
Edward G Robinson has been victimized before so his situation here is no real surprise. The surprise is the object of his rage. A total psychopath named Ramey, played by non other than Gene Lockhart of all people. The casting director in this movie was a genius. Who would have ever thought of this perennial nice guy as a villain. Crybaby Bobs Watson does his bit as EGR's kid Hank. Big Boy Williams is his loyal affable self. It is no wonder he stayed busy for decades. Only Ruth Hussy drops the ball in this one. She just doesn't seem gritty enough for this kind of melodrama.
It may sound crazy, but there is something comforting about the savage routine of a chain gang when compared to the terror of escaping and becoming a fugitive. You would think that every police force in the country has nothing to do but search for this guy.
I won't get into the ending - it's a little hard to swallow, but I think it's worth waiting for. Just remember, this takes place long before the Miranda decision. This is a little programmer that gets lost between "I Was a Fugitive From a Chaingang" and "Cool Hand Luke", but as chain gang movies go, this is a winner.
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