8.1/10
10,595
393 user 43 critic

I Am a Fugitive from a Chain Gang (1932)

Passed | | Crime, Drama, Film-Noir | 19 November 1932 (USA)
Trailer
2:33 | Trailer

Watch Now

From $2.99 on Prime Video

ON DISC
Wrongly convicted James Allen serves in the intolerable conditions of a southern chain gang, which later comes back to haunt him.

Director:

Mervyn LeRoy

Writers:

Robert E. Burns (by), Howard J. Green (screen play) | 1 more credit »
Reviews
Nominated for 3 Oscars. Another 3 wins. See more awards »

Videos

Photos

Learn more

More Like This 

Scarface (1932)
Action | Crime | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  

An ambitious and nearly insane violent gangster climbs the ladder of success in the mob, but his weaknesses prove to be his downfall.

Directors: Howard Hawks, Richard Rosson
Stars: Paul Muni, Ann Dvorak, Karen Morley
Crime | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  

A young hoodlum rises up through the ranks of the Chicago underworld, even as a gangster's accidental death threatens to spark a bloody mob war.

Director: William A. Wellman
Stars: James Cagney, Jean Harlow, Edward Woods
Little Caesar (1931)
Action | Crime | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  

A small-time criminal moves to a big city to seek bigger fortune.

Director: Mervyn LeRoy
Stars: Edward G. Robinson, Douglas Fairbanks Jr., Glenda Farrell
Comedy | Crime | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.1/10 X  

A gentleman thief and a lady pickpocket join forces to con a beautiful perfume company owner. Romantic entanglements and jealousies confuse the scheme.

Director: Ernst Lubitsch
Stars: Miriam Hopkins, Kay Francis, Herbert Marshall
Fury (1936)
Crime | Drama | Film-Noir
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.9/10 X  

When a wrongly accused prisoner barely survives a lynch mob attack and is presumed dead, he vindictively decides to fake his death and frame the mob for his supposed murder.

Director: Fritz Lang
Stars: Sylvia Sidney, Spencer Tracy, Walter Abel
Comedy | Drama | Musical
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8/10 X  

A wealthy composer rescues unemployed Broadway performers with a new play.

Director: Mervyn LeRoy
Stars: Warren William, Joan Blondell, Aline MacMahon
White Heat (1949)
Action | Crime | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.2/10 X  

A psychopathic criminal with a mother complex makes a daring break from prison and leads his old gang in a chemical plant payroll heist. Shortly after the plan takes place, events take a crazy turn.

Director: Raoul Walsh
Stars: James Cagney, Virginia Mayo, Edmond O'Brien
Certificate: Passed Crime | Drama | Film-Noir
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.9/10 X  

A priest tries to stop a gangster from corrupting a group of street kids.

Director: Michael Curtiz
Stars: James Cagney, Pat O'Brien, Humphrey Bogart
The Thin Man (1934)
Comedy | Crime | Mystery
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.1/10 X  

Former detective Nick Charles and his wealthy wife Nora investigate a murder case, mostly for the fun of it.

Director: W.S. Van Dyke
Stars: William Powell, Myrna Loy, Maureen O'Sullivan
Action | Crime | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.9/10 X  

Three men attempt to make a living in Prohibitionist America after returning home from fighting together in World War I.

Director: Raoul Walsh
Stars: James Cagney, Humphrey Bogart, Priscilla Lane
Certificate: Passed Comedy | Musical | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  

A Parisian tailor finds himself posing as a baron in order to collect a sizeable bill from an aristocrat, only to fall in love with an aloof young princess.

Director: Rouben Mamoulian
Stars: Maurice Chevalier, Jeanette MacDonald, Charles Ruggles
Dodsworth (1936)
Certificate: Passed Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.1/10 X  

A retired auto manufacturer and his wife take a long-planned European vacation only to find that they want very different things from life.

Director: William Wyler
Stars: Walter Huston, Ruth Chatterton, Paul Lukas
Edit

Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Paul Muni ... James Allen
Glenda Farrell ... Marie Woods
Helen Vinson ... Helen
Noel Francis ... Linda
Preston Foster ... Pete
Allen Jenkins ... Barney Sykes
Berton Churchill ... The Judge
Edward Ellis ... Bomber Wells
David Landau ... The Warden
Hale Hamilton ... Rev. Robert Allen
Sally Blane ... Alice
Louise Carter ... James Allen's Mother
Willard Robertson ... Prison Board Chairman
Robert McWade ... F.E. Ramsey
Robert Warwick ... Fuller
Edit

Storyline

Having returned from fighting in World War I, James Allen doesn't want to settle into a humdrum life and decides to set off to find his fortune. He travels the length and breadth of America, working as a skilled tradesman in the construction industry. When times get tough however, he finds himself living in a shelter where an acquaintance suggests they go out for a hamburger. What the friend really has in mind is to rob the diner and Allen soon finds himself working on a chain gang with a long jail sentence. Allen manages to escape however and heads to Chicago where over several years he slowly but surely works his way up the ladder to become one of the most respected construction engineers in the city. His past catches up with him and despite protestations from civic leaders and his many friends in Chicago, he finds himself again on the chain gang. Escaping for a second time, he accepts that to survive, he must lead a life of crime. Written by garykmcd

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

Cast of great names too long to list here. Warner Bros. original, authentic picture of Robert E. Burns famous best-seller! See more »

Genres:

Crime | Drama | Film-Noir

Certificate:

Passed | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
Edit

Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

19 November 1932 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

I Am a Fugitive See more »

Edit

Box Office

Budget:

$195,845 (estimated)
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Warner Bros. See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

(Turner library print)

Sound Mix:

Mono (original release)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »
Edit

Did You Know?

Trivia

Paul Muni was not as impressed with Mervyn LeRoy upon first meeting him in Jack L. Warner's Burbank office. Warner made the introductions, but Muni did not say anything to LeRoy. Instead, he turned to Warner and said, "Is he the director, that kid?" Despite that inauspicious beginning, the director and the star became close friends. When Muni died in 1967, the only two people from the film industry present at his funeral were LeRoy and Muni's agent. See more »

Goofs

Calendar pages flip several times in the film and it is always the same calendar even though the events of the story unfold over the course of many years. The first calendar flipping should be 1923 or 1924. The next is in 1929/30. The last flipping is likely intended to be 1930/31. In all cases, a 1932 (could be 1904, but due to the date of the film, 1932 is more likely) calendar is used. In two instances, the date flips from December to January and in both instances Jan 1 falls on the wrong day. Instead of using a 1933 calendar for January, they simply used the same 1932 calendar. See more »

Quotes

[last lines]
Helen: How do you live?
James Allen: I steal.
See more »

Connections

Featured in Warner at War (2008) See more »

Soundtracks

Smiles
(1917) (uncredited)
Music by Lee S. Roberts
Lyrics by J. Will Callahan
Sung by soldiers during crap game
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.

User Reviews

 
They Really Made Him A Criminal
11 June 2007 | by bkoganbingSee all my reviews

Paul Muni's performance in Scarface led him to a long term contract with Warner Brothers and his first film with them was another classic. Unlike Scarface where Muni becomes a gangland boss, he's led almost by accident into a life of crime.

Restless since his service in the World War, Muni leaves his factory job to see the world. On the bum, he gets accidentally drawn into a holdup of a greasy spoon diner by another tramp, Preston Foster. Foster is killed and Muni is left with the rap for a grand total of about $5.00 and change. Today that would be about $35.00 to $40.00 all told.

No first offender status in this state and no one to speak earnestly for him, he gets a 10 year stretch for that holdup. Here's where the themes of I Am a Fugitive From a Chain Gang come into play. The brutal and callous treatment of the prisoners had never been shown so graphically on the screen before, although at RKO they were doing a film with the same themes in Hell's Highway at the same time.

Muni got an Oscar nomination for playing James Allen in this film, but lost to Charles Laughton for The Private Lives of Henry VIII. Still he gives a riveting performance as a man truly a victim of forces he cannot comprehend.

Overshadowed by Muni and sometimes overlooked unfortunately is Glenda Farrell. She plays a trampy dame with a heart of pure brass who latches on to Muni who marries her when she discovers he's a fugitive, then turns him in when he tries to throw her out. Her part as Muni's unfaithful wife may just have been her career role.

Even though the film is black and white, the fashions are old, prison themes whether it's this one, Brubaker, or The Shawshank Redemption usually have a lot of the same themes and are eternal. This one is a deserved classic and should never be missed when televised.


10 of 12 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you? | Report this
Review this title | See all 393 user reviews »

Contribute to This Page

Stream Popular Action and Adventure Titles With Prime Video

Explore popular action and adventure titles available to stream with Prime Video.

Start your free trial



Recently Viewed