The Making and Influence of I Am a Fugitive from a Chain Gang

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About the Book

Robert E. Burns, a World War I veteran coerced into taking part in a petty crime in Atlanta, Georgia, was sentenced to hard labor on a chain gang in 1922. Twice escaping and on the lam for decades, he was aided only by his minister-poet brother, Vincent G. Burns. Their collaborative work, I Am a Fugitive from a Georgia Chain Gang! was the basis for Darryl F. Zanuck’s and Mervyn Leroy’s hard-hitting 1932 film adaptation from Warner Bros. This book traces the making and influence of the film—which launched a string of imitators—and the Burns brothers’ efforts to obtain a pardon for Robert, which never came.

About the Author(s)

Scott Allen Nollen was educated in film and history at the University of Iowa. He has written and edited more than 40 books on the history of film, literature and music.

Bibliographic Details

Scott Allen Nollen
Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 228
Bibliographic Info: 31 photos, appendices, notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2016
pISBN: 978-0-7864-6677-1
eISBN: 978-1-4766-2678-9
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Table of Contents


Introduction 1

1. Robert Elliott Burns 5

2. I Am a Fugitive from a Georgia Chain Gang! The Memoir 18

3. The Making of the Film 43

4. The Reception of the Film 63

5. Out of These Chains: The Continuing Saga of Robert E. Burns and the Warner Bros. Film 78

6. The Historic Influence of the Film 94

Appendix A: Credits and Cast of I Am a Fugitive from a Chain Gang 143

Appendix B: Film Precursors 145

Appendix C: Film and Television Successors 147

Chapter Notes 203

Bibliography 205

Index 209

Book Reviews & Awards

“an in-depth look at the memoir this 1932 masterpiece was based on as well as its author, Robert E. Burns”—Acting Solo.