I Am a Fugitive from a Chain Gang

Synopsis: Having returned from fighting in World War I, James Allen doesn't want to settle into a humdrum life and decides to set off to find his fortune. He travels the length and breadth of America, working as a skilled tradesman in the construction industry. When times get tough however, he finds himself living in a shelter where an acquaintance suggests they go out for a hamburger. What the friend really has in mind is to rob the diner and Allen soon finds himself working on a chain gang with a long jail sentence. Allen manages to escape however and heads to Chicago where over several years he slowly but surely works his way up the ladder to become one of the most respected construction engineers in the city. His past catches up with him and despite protestations from civic leaders and his many friends in Chicago, he finds himself again on the chain gang. Escaping for a second time, he accepts that to survive, he must lead a life of crime.
Director(s): Mervyn LeRoy
Production: Vitaphone Corporation
  Nominated for 3 Oscars. Another 3 wins.
Rotten Tomatoes:
92 min

Hey, pipe down, you mugs.

Sorry to break up the game, boys...

but the old man's having bunk inspection

in an hour.

Give me my bones!

This man's army ain't been nothing

but just one inspection after another.

If ever I get back to Texas

on that range again...

the first man who says ''inspection''

to me...

he's going to be S.O.L.,

because he'll hear from my six-shooter.

And I mean sure enough, too.

There'll be no inspection where I'm going.

Where's that?

Why, back into vaudeville

with my old lion-taming act!

I wonder if Oscar and Minnie will know me

when I step back into the cage.

You better hope they do.

I know what I'm gonna do.

Get me some kind of construction job.

I didn't know that was your line, Sergeant.

It wasn't, but it's going to be.

Being in the Engineering Corps

has been swell experience...

and I'm making the most of it.

Well, we'll be reading about you

in the newspapers, I'll bet.

''Mr. James Allen is building

a new Panama Canal.'' Or something.

You can bet your tin hat Mr. James Allen

won't be back in the old grind of a factory.

Do you think he'll be wearing his medal?

Why, of course he will.

- Mom!

- Jim!

It's good to have you back.

You're a little thinner, Jim.

Your cooking will fix that up.

Clint! Well, you haven't changed a bit.

But, Alice, I wouldn't have known you.

She's grown up, hasn't she?

She certainly has.

And you look different, too.

I think it's the uniform I miss.

It made you look taller

and more distinguished.

I got a regular welcome-home party here,

haven't I?

Mr. Parker, it's nice of you to be here.

You have a lot to thank Mr. Parker for.

That's nothing.

He feels after all you've been through,

we owe you something.

Mr. Parker is going to take you back

into the factory.

I've saved your old job for you.

You've done your bit

and your boss isn't going to forget you.

Well, I have...

I'm so glad to have you back.

I guess we'd better go home,

don't you think?

All right, I'll take this.

I'll see you later, Jim. Goodbye.

The old place hasn't changed a bit.

Well, let's sit down and have a talk.

Tell us all about the war.

I won't live that long.

What did you think

of Mr. Parker being at the station?

Say, Clint. Speaking of Mr. Parker,

will you do something for me?

Sure. What is it?

Well, will you talk to him for me

and tell him I'm not going to take that job?

And why should I tell him that?

It's kind of hard to explain.

But you see, the Army changes a fellow.

It kind of makes you think different.

I don't want to spend the rest of my life...

answering a factory whistle,

instead of a bugle call...

or be cooped up

in a shipping room all day.

I want to do something worthwhile.

Jim, how can you talk like that?

He's tired, Mother. Excited.

You don't know what you are saying.

But tomorrow morning,

after a good night's sleep...

you'll be ready to take up

where you left off at the factory.

A soldier of peace

instead of a soldier of war.

I don't want to be a soldier of anything.

You see, Mom...

I want to get out.

Away from routine.

I've had enough of that in the Army.

You found another job?

Not exactly, Mom...

but you see, I've been doing

engineering work in the Army...

and that's the kind of work

I want to do now.

A man's job.

Where you can accomplish things.

Where you can build, construct, create.

Do things!

That sounds very nice.

But after all...

a job in the hand is worth two in the bush.

I don't want to tell you what to do, Jim...

but when you were in the war...

every time I passed the factory...

I was wishing for the day

my boy would be working there again.

We've moved things around quite a bit.

This is a lot nicer

than the old shipping room, isn't it?

You'll sit by this window

and check the shipments.

The job's just about the same.

Before you know it, you'll be doing it again

with your eyes shut.

They're excavating. I shouldn't think

that would scare you.

I was looking for the nearest dugout.

You'll hear lots of those explosions.

They're building a new bridge over there.

Better get busy

and file those bills of lading.

Yes, sir.

It might do some good

if you had another talk with Jim.

I certainly intend to.

Parker's given him a job anyone in town

would grab, and what does he do?

Checks in day after day late from lunch.

Loitering around that new bridge

for no reason at all.

He'll come out of it...

but it worries me, too.

Is that you, Jim?

It's me, Mom.

Maybe you could speak to him now.

- Hello, Clint.

- You're quite a stranger here.

- Had your supper?

- No, I'm not hungry.

- But you should have a bite of something.

- I can't, Mom. I don't feel like it.

Well, anyway, sit down.

I want to talk to you.

Jim, Mr. Parker's very disappointed in you.

You haven't shown him anything.

You know your duty is to your job.

I know it, but I just can't help it.

Maybe you're not well, dear.

It isn't that, Mom. I'm all right.

I try my best when I get there,

but I just can't concentrate.

It's not the kind of work I want to do.

I said so when I came home.

It's too monotonous.

But you don't seem to realize...

That's it, realize. No one seems to realize

that I have changed. I'm different now.

I've been through hell.

Folks here are concerned with my uniform,

how I dance.

I'm out of step with everybody.

All this while I was hoping to come home

Rate this script:4.3 / 3 votes

Robert E. Burns

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Submitted on August 05, 2018

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