Review: I Am a Fugitive from a Chain Gang


I Am a Fugitive from a Chain Gang is based on the book and true story of Robert E. Burns.


This movie was a commentary of the overall situation going on in America after World War I and how the veterans coming back from war were treated.  This is also a look at how prisoners in the state of Georgia were treated, this was changed partly because of this book and movie.  Watching this movie you can see how influential it was on future movies.  This picture captured a time in history with 2 iconic elements, the blood hounds and black and white striped prison uniforms.  The film is directed by Mervyn LeRoy, he also directed Johnny Eager a film I reviewed recently here:

The movie is overall true to fact, but one big fact, Burns really did steal the little over $5 because he needed it for food.  In the film he is just an innocent bystander, which gives the film more of a noir feel.  We love the average guy that gets caught up on the wrong side of the law.

Paul Muni is the star and comes across as your everyday man, perfect for this part.  Glenda Farrell plays the femme fatale that wants to marry our hero, for better or worse.  Helen Vinson plays another lady in our hero’s life.

This movie had a lot of impact on human rights and the way people are treated when in prison.  This is also one of the first noir films, and influenced a lot of films to come in the next 3 decades.  This is a very interesting story and is well worth watching.  If you are a film-noir buff it is required watching.