Film & Water #54 – I Am A Fugitive From A Chain Gang



Rob welcomes blogger Martin Gray (Too Dangerous For A Girl) to discuss the  groundbreaking 1932 Warner Bros. crime drama I AM A FUGITIVE FROM A CHAIN GANG, starring Paul Muni!

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8 responses to “Film & Water #54 – I Am A Fugitive From A Chain Gang

  1. Warner Bros. was known for its “social message” films as much as they were for their gangster movies of the 1930s. I’ve always been especially interested in the Pre-Code movies (pre-1934). Where MGM was known for emphasizing glamour and “more stars than there are in the heavens,” WB movies had a grit that reflected Depression-era America. Even 42nd Street, the classic showbiz musical, showcases the stress and desperation of the Broadway world.

    The Pre-Code movies had a rawness and touched on subjects (poverty, homosexuality, drug abuse, child neglect, etc) that were wiped off the screen just a few years later. Two of my favorites from this era are Baby Face (1933) & Wild Boys of the Road (1933). In the former, Barbara Stanwyck is a young woman literally pimped out by her father. She later travels to NYC and uses body to rise in the corporate world. Wild Boys tells of the plight of kids who are forced into hobo life hopping trains from town to town during the Depression. The violence is still shocking. One character’s leg is amputated after a horrific accident and one girl riding the rails is raped. TCM has several DVD sets highlighting these Pre-Code movies and I believe “Fugitive” is among them. I have to think that Siegel & Shuster must have been inspired by these movies as the earliest Superman stories have the hero very much as a New Deal Democrat fighting social ills.

  2. I wasn’t really aware of this film, but it sounds like a very strong film. I’ll keep my eye out on TCM for it.

    I know my Dad has told me he still recalled seeing prison workers as a kid in the mid to late 40s. Not sure if they were quite a chain gang, but I believe he said some were German war prisoners! He used to watch them from the school bus, and a few would even wave at the kids. How they ended up doing road work in Kentucky, I’m not sure.

    Great to hear Martin on the show!


  3. My favorite prison movies (in no particular order):

    1. Brubaker (Robert Redford; 1980)
    2. Gideon’s Trumpet (Henry Fonda; 1980)
    3. White Heat (Jimmy Cagney; 1949)
    4. The Longest Yard (Burt Reynolds; 1974)
    5. The Big House (Robert Montgomery; 1930)
    6. Shawshank Redemption (Tim Robbins; 1994)
    7. Sullivan’s Travels (Joel McRae; 1941)
    8. I Want to Live (Susan Hayward; 1958)
    9. Cool Hand Luke (Paul Newman; 1967)
    10. Going in Style (George Burns; 1979) : Not all prisons have bars

    1. Great list, Chuck. I don’t suppose I could use the jail scene from the musical version of The Producers to justify it being on a favourite prison movies list 🙂 ‘Prisoners of love…’

      Thanks to Rob for having me on the show, and I loved hearing ‘Remember My Forgtotten Man at the end!

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