28 user 10 critic

Hell's Highway (1932)

Passed | | Action, Crime, Drama | 23 September 1932 (USA)
Chain gang prisoners forced to construct a "liberty highway" for their overseer chasten under his brutal stewardship, causing Duke Ellis to mastermind a mass riot.


Rowland Brown, John Cromwell (uncredited)


Samuel Ornitz (by), Robert Tasker (by) | 1 more credit »




Complete credited cast:
Richard Dix ... Duke Ellis
Rochelle Hudson ... Mary Ellen
Tom Brown ... Johnny Ellis
C. Henry Gordon ... 'Blacksnake' Skinner
Oscar Apfel ... William Billings
Stanley Fields ... F. E. Whiteside
John Arledge ... Carter
Warner Richmond ... 'Pop-Eye' Jackson
Charles Middleton ... Matthew the Hermit
Clarence Muse ... Rascal
Louise Carter ... Mrs. Ellis
Sandy Roth Sandy Roth ... Blind Maxie
Fuzzy Knight ... Society Red


Chain gang prisoners forced to construct a "liberty highway" for their overseer chasten under his brutal stewardship, causing Duke Ellis to mastermind a mass riot.

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


A Drama of the Doomed! (original print ad) See more »


Action | Crime | Drama


Passed | See all certifications »

Did You Know?


RKO executives were concerned about a possible plagiarism suit by the author of the book and the movie version I Am a Fugitive from a Chain Gang (1932) in production at Warner Bros. at the time. Some deletions and changes were made until they were satisfied that no legal action would be taken. See more »


Duke Ellis: [Chatting with a convicted bigamist] How many women did you really marry?
Matthew the Hermit: How many banks did you really rob?
Duke Ellis: Never more than one at the same time.
Matthew the Hermit: It takes nerves of steel to rob a bank.
Duke Ellis: It takes a lot of backbone to keep seven wives happy.
Matthew the Hermit: Yea, Brother!
See more »


Referenced in Hollywood on Trial (1976) See more »

User Reviews

The Unfunny Side of "O Brother, Where Art Thou?"
20 January 2003 | by glenn7See all my reviews

Having seen "O Brother, Where Art Thou?" recently, that film came to mind soon after Hell's Highway began. The similarities were obvious-- chain gangs, road work, harsh guards, escape, pursuit and capture. Even the music was similar-- worksong spirituals sung in rich harmony by black male choruses. But where "O Brother" wove humor and comedy throughout the story, "Hell's Highway" was hard, gritty, and definitely humor-less. You're told at the beginning this film is on the bandwagon of penal reform that must have existed at that time, showing the abuses and brutality and the efforts to stop it. It does this quite well, even with the corny (by today's culture)"Oh gosh, gee whillickers, Ma" script and acting that appeared occasionally. Producer David O. Selznick must have been a closet pyromaniac--a powerful scene in which the prison camp burns certainly called to mind the burning of Atlanta in "Gone With the Wind." This Depression-era film showed that even decent folks could find themselves behind the 8-ball of life. Overall, an excellent insight into one aspect of early 20th century American culture. Ignore the outdated-ness of the film and you'll learn a lot.

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Release Date:

23 September 1932 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Liberty Road See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

RKO Radio Pictures See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Mono (RCA Photophone System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »

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