5 user 2 critic

Chain Gang (1950)

Approved | | Crime, Action, Drama | 1 November 1950 (USA)
Crusading newspaperman Cliff Roberts (Douglas Kennedy), masquerades as a prison guard and gets a job attached to the chain gang. Using a tiny camera in the shape of a cigarette lighter, he ... See full summary »





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Complete credited cast:
Capt. Duncan
William 'Bill' Phillips ...
Roy Snead
John McKelvey
Henry 'Pop' O'Donnell


Crusading newspaperman Cliff Roberts (Douglas Kennedy), masquerades as a prison guard and gets a job attached to the chain gang. Using a tiny camera in the shape of a cigarette lighter, he takes pictures of and documents the miserable conditions. The sadist guard captain, Captain Duncan (Emory Parnell), learns about Cliff's activities and has him beaten by the other guards. Roberts escapes to write his expose that brings about some prison reforms. Written by Les Adams <longhorn1939@suddenlink.net>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


It was legal murder until a reporter and his girl dared to get the inside story!


Crime | Action | Drama


Approved | See all certifications »




Release Date:

1 November 1950 (USA)  »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(RCA Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?


Don C. Harvey plays one of the callous guards who watches while a stripped-to-the-waist prisoner, tied to a post, is whipped across his bare back. Three years later, in "Prince of Pirates," Harvey plays a stripped-to-the-waist prisoner who's whipped across his bare back. See more »


Capt. Duncan: [to Cliff Roberts] Three lashes ain't enough. Keep going.
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User Reviews

Stop Press-Undercover Reporter In Death Defying Job-Stop Press.
28 October 2008 | by (United Kingdom) – See all my reviews

Upon hearing about the brutality that is abound in the chain gang penal system, intrepid reporter Cliff Roberts goes undercover as a prison guard. Using a tiny camera cunningly disguised as a cigarette lighter, he takes pictures of barbaric practises and documents the whole sorry existence of the inmates. However he is always one mistake away from being found out and with that in mind, his life is severely in danger.

Chain Gang is a solid if instantly forgettable incarceration based picture, small budget and a largely unknown cast list make it a film that only genre fans can readily embrace. No real surprises here as we, thru the term of our protagonist reporter, witness the hostile environment the prisoners live in, this of course throws up the usual moral quandaries. Surely because these men have broken the law {some crimes despicable} they forfeit the right to a decent term of imprisonment? Or is it wrong that they be treated like animals and bullied to breaking point? So like I say, nothing new here, but as with every other film of this type, there is no denying that the quintessential point of the topic makes for an interesting story.

Chain Gang stays above being poor because of the candid display from Douglas Kennedy as Roberts, his conflict of interest during his stay at the prison {before it inevitably goes pear shaped} is handled very well and gives the piece more heart than it probably deserves. William Phillips is the other actor to come out with some credit, a bit of gruff believability goes into his prisoner Snead, and both he and Kennedy keep the film on safe waters. Having a short running time of only 70 minutes, Chain Gang is unable to break free from its own B movie shackles, but a little drama here, and a little moral poser there, means it's at the very least a watchable genre entry. 5/10

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