I am a Fugitive from a Chain Gang is the 1932 Pre-code drama film. James Allen is a veteran who wants to become an engineer. He decides to find work, but finds it hard to find work due to the Great Depression. To make matters worse, he is framed for a robbery and is sentenced to work on a chain gang. The conditions are too brutal, so he escapes and manages to find a job. However, a woman named Marie blackmails him into marriage. It’s only after he asks for a divorce that his secret is revealed. Will he be sent back to prison?
The movie is an interesting historical document about what was a horrible problem. As a result, it doesn’t have the happiest of endings, although the real person, Robert Elliot Burns, whose story is the basis of the movie, did get acquitted. The only real problem with the movie is that they made James Allen a little too squeaky clean, as Burns actually robbed a restaurant in real life. Still, it does a good job exposing a real problem. We even get to see a newspaper debate where the South pulls the states’ rights card. Honolulu film fans should watch this movie.
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