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Five "city boys" travel to the country to relax by doing some hunting, drinking Bud, and generally having good time. However, the local inbred backwoods psychos turn the hunters into the ... See full summary »
This is a film based on a true story, the story of Robert Burns, a World War I veteran who fell upon hard times, turned to petty crime in a point of desperation, and then went through the harrowing experience of the Southern prison system, with all the inhumanities that are attendant to that. Deprivations and cruel punishments abounded, as prisoners were literally whipped to death and set to work at back-breaking labour on chain gangs. At a certain point, Burns escaped, and finding a new life in a Northern state, became a prosperous businessman, still ever mindful of his escapee status. Burns, being assured of the justice of the system and that such inhumanities would not happen again, was led to seek to clarify his status by returning to the South, only to be absorbed once more into the inhuman system. However, this time his public profile was known around the country, and his cause became a cause célèbre. It forced a change in the prison system that remains a turning point in the humane treatment of prisoners to this day.
This film is based upon Robert Burns' own book, 'I am Fugitive from the Georgia Chain Gang'. Directed by Daniel Mann, the story stars Val Kilmer in a remarkably full role, with powerful performances by Charles Durning, Kyra Sedgwick and Elisha Cook Jr. (a veteran actor whose credits include 'The Maltese Falcon' and 'Sergeant York', in this his final role). The scenes are often breathtaking for their brutality and realism, and the overall tone is very true to life, albeit a reality we often want to hide from.
This is a rare film, not yet available on DVD, but one well worth watching, particularly for those who are interested in American history of a different sort.
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