I Am a Fugitive from a Chain Gang

I Am a Fugitive from a Chain Gang ★★★★½

I am a Fugitive From a Chain Gang is one of the best American films from the early talkie period. This harsh social commentary on the contemporary prison system is far ahead of its time and brutally poignant. Pre-code cinema was something truly it’s own and this film takes on a grittier and dirtier feel than most films that came after it. A film that is willing to take risks and challenge the status quo is something rare for time but a movie that is goes out of its way to attack governmental institutions is almost unheard of. Although I’m not sure, I get the feeling that this film was very influential and probably has a tremendous legacy. In early sound pictures, the acting was usually pretty bad because the change was so dramatic but Paul Muni stays way above any other his peers and delivers an electrifying and powerful performance. There is one scene is particular where he breaks down that is so emotionally moving you would’ve thought it would be from the 60s. The action and sets are also insanely good. There is a car chase that is incredible for the time and a beautiful underwater sequence that is very suspenseful and well executed. The ending although a little bizarre is great as well as we get into the frantic mindset of the main character. I think this film is just short of being a classic and is a great watch. Highly recommended for anyone looking for pre-code cinema, this is one of the best out there

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