89 Days of Oscar Nominees – #77 – I Am a Fugitive from a Chain Gang (1932)


In my attempt to have a more prolific repertoire of Oscar Nominated Films, I have taken it upon myself to watch 89 new Best Picture Nominees that I’ve never seen before between 1 Dec 2016 and The 89th Annual Oscars on 26 Feb 2017.

Here is my 77th review of the 89 chosen Films…


“There are no musts in my life. I’m free, white and twenty-one. ” – Helen

Number of Times Seen – 1 (15 Feb 2017)

Brief Synopsis – A WWI veteran trying to get by is wrongly imprisoned in a chain gang and does all he can to escape imprisonment.

My Take on it – I heard about this film about 30 years ago when I saw the HBO original movie with Val Kilmer called The Man Who Broke 1,000 Chains (1987) which is the full life story of the real man who’s life this film was based on.

I was 13 at the time and was shocked back then about how a movie could effect such change in the world.

That film shows clips of this film, but I forgot all about it in the last few decades.

While going through the list of films in the project, I came across this title and was reminded of the story that I watched all those years ago and was quite excited to watch the original film.

This movie is only about 90 minutes long, but I found it gripping the whole way through.

The fact that this was one of the first (if not THE first) films to discuss social issues and eventually lead to a change in the policies surrounding the events of the film.

The horrors of the Chain gang penal system are shown here (albeit lightly because of censors), but the effects caused a ripple of changes for a long time afterwards.

Paul Muni is amazing here as the lead and is able to play such a diverse character so well that we believe him in each role his character must play in his rapidly changing world.

I’m still surprised that they got it so right in 1932 and this film’s impact would be lessened if it were ever to be remade because it just isn’t necessary.

Bottom Line – Amazing film that was one of the first social commentary films that was able to bring change just by disclosing the horrors of the chain gang penal system. Muni is amazing in this film and despite being made in 1932, this film is done so well. Highly Recommended!

MovieRob’s Favorite Trivia – The film caused a lot of controversy, actually leading to the pardon of its main character, Robert E. Burns, who was still on the lam when it first hit theaters. (From IMDB)

Rating – Oscar Worthy


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To see my reviews of Oscar Winning Performances check out this link

To see my reviews of all Oscar Best Picture Winners click here (now complete)

Here is a link to my movie index A-Z

5 thoughts on “89 Days of Oscar Nominees – #77 – I Am a Fugitive from a Chain Gang (1932)

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  2. Pingback: The Man Who Broke 1,000 Chains (1987) |

  3. Pingback: MovieRob Monthly Roundup – February 2017 |

  4. Pingback: MovieRob’s Top Ten for Newly Viewed Pre-2017 releases |

  5. Pingback: Did They Get it Right? – Best Actor – Oscars 1933 |

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