I Am a Fugitive from a Chain Gang (1932)

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Original plot
Paul Muni gets a sentence of hard labor in harsh times.

Big thoughts
This is also from that great Toast blog entry, so read that for the some cool insight. Basically, this is a groundbreaking movie in terms of social commentary – and wow, does it pack a punch.

Obligatory bus anecdote
I once watched a lady put a piece of paper down on the seat before she plopped down on it. Like she was in a public toilet or something. Now, I don’t know if she brought the paper with her, or it was there and she decided to sit on it instead of throwing it on the floor or on a neighboring seat. But, still, weird, right?

Pertinent GIF
ChainGang

The Random Remake
James Allen (Michael Fassbender!) is a former Army sergeant back home in the South from Afghanistan. He’s determined to turn his engineering training in the war into a job stateside but he is tormented by what he saw and his IED injuries. Soon he falls into the ring of an old friend who sells meth and provides James with pain meds. Soon, of course, the ring is broken up and James is sent to county prison on drug charges.

In prison, James tries to keep his level head but the obstacles are too much. His physical pain is untreated. His mental pain is unacknowledged. The only friends he has are the ones he meets in the prison shop, who make chain-links for fences and other products. He is schooled on the ins and outs of the prison system and starts smuggling contraband, enforcing rules, etc. He learns that prison can be a way to make people into criminals. Inside the prison, James has succumb to everything he has tried to keep at bay: the rage, the hurt, the pain, the anger.

When he finally gets work-release he joins the others in walking off their jobs and fleeing to another state to start organizing a crime ring. Before doing so, he reunites with his former girlfriend to plead with her to join him on the run. Shocked, she says he’s not the man she knew anymore. “How did get you get here? How did you afford that car,” she asks, looking at his pickup truck. “I stole it,” he answered.

The pitch
Chain Gang: It’s what’s inside that counts

Next up: Three On A Match (1932)

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