Paul Muni stars in director Mervyn LeRoy's gritty prison exposé based on Robert E. Burns's memoirs. Returning war veteran James Allen descends into darkness when his architectural aspirations dissolve and he's incarcerated on bogus robbery charges.
Powerful and Important Film.
- I Am a Fugitive from a Chain Gang review by Steve Mason
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Based on a true story of an innocent man, Robert Burns, who was sent to do time on a chain gang in the depression era American south, and the political corruption that kept him there.
OK, some of the acting in minor parts creaks like a haunted house. But otherwise... this is a powerful prison drama, as real and painful as the tears in your eyes, or the taste of blood in your mouth. It is a story about dignity, but it doesn't pull its punches on the awful realities that awaited the people who were so cruelly treated by society.
The famous ending, is devastating. Paul Muni is very special as the wronged Burns, and the whole is delivered in the punchy, concise style of the Warners studio at this time. But its greatness is testified by its impact; chain gangs in the American south began to release prisoners under the pressure of law.
I can see the appalled face of Muni now, at his appeal, sent back to hell.