|Directed by||Lew Landers|
|Produced by||Sam Katzman|
|Written by||Howard J. Green|
|Cinematography||Ira H. Morgan|
|Distributed by||Columbia Pictures|
Chain Gang is a 1950 American drama film directed by Lew Landers, written by Howard J. Green and starring Douglas Kennedy as a newspaper reporter who goes undercover to expose political corruption and the exploitation of chain gang labour.
After a state senator's bill to abolish chain gangs is rejected by the Senate, newspaper reporter Cliff Roberts (Kennedy) persuades his boss Pop O'Donnel (Harry Cheshire) at the liberal Capitol City Evening Standard to arrange for him to go undercover in a chain gang prison. Equipped with false employment records and a tiny microfilm camera disguised as a cigarette lighter, he tells everyone—including girlfriend Rita McKelvey (Marjorie Lord), a reporter for a rival newspaper—that he is going on a fishing trip, but actually heads for Cloverdale Prison Farm in the deep south, scene of recent incidents which left three inmates dead.
The prison's Captain Duncan (Emory Parnell) supplies labour in the form of chain gangs, which are ostensibly for state construction projects but in reality are being exploited by Rita's stepfather, local entrepreneur John McKelvey (Thurston Hall), for his construction projects. Working as a guard, Roberts secretly photographs prison conditions, arriving in time to witness the recapturing of an escaped inmate who is sent for an overnight stay in the sweatbox as punishment. Roberts is supplied with a bullwhip and is required to use it when a convict – Snead (William Phillips) – is caught covering up for another inmate who can't work well enough at the construction site. Under Captain Duncan's orders, Roberts reluctantly flogs Snead at the whipping post. Later he visits Snead in solitary confinement to apologise for the whipping and gains the inmate's trust.
Roberts' secret photographs are published in the newspaper, much to McKelvey's consternation. A foreman on the construction project (who knows Roberts as Jack Granger) sees his photograph in McKelvey house. His cover blown, Roberts uses the confusion of fellow prisoner Snead's escape to make a run for it. The two men try to outrun the guards and their dogs across wilderness and through woodland. Roberts is shot and left for dead by Captain Duncan, who later pins the blame on Snead. Roberts eventually makes it to safety and is reunited with Rita. Snead is killed while on the run and McKelvey is charged with the exploitation of convict labor for personal gain.
- Douglas Kennedy as Cliff Roberts
- Marjorie Lord as Rita McKelvey
- Emory Parnell as Capt. Duncan
- William 'Bill' Phillips as Roy Snead
- Fred Aldrich as Convict
- Stanley Blystone as Convict on Chain Gang
- Paul E. Burns as Dr. Evans
- Benny Burt as Convict in Bunk
- Jack Chefe as Convict
- James Conaty as Pop's Influential Friend
- George Eldredge as Guard Adams
- William Fawcett as Zeke
- Eddie Foster as Convict Operating Crane
- John Hart as Chain Gang Member
- Don C. Harvey as Guard Langley
- Charles Horvath as Convict in Skirmish
- Billy Lechner as Eddie Jones
- Herbert Rawlinson as Senator Harden
- George Robotham as Guard Reagan
- John Rogers as Joe – Lunch Counterman
- Larry Steers as Senate Committee Hearing Attendee
- Bert L. Stevens as Newspaper Office Worker
- Brick Sullivan as Guard
- William Tannen as Harry Cleaver
- Dorothy Vaughan as Mrs. Briggs
- Rusty Wescoatt as Guard Yates
- Frank Wilcox as Lloyd Killgallen
Chain Gang was produced by Sam Katzman at Columbia Pictures and filmed in black and white by Ira H. Morgan. Filming started on May 16, 1950. It was reissued on DVD in 2012 as part of the Sony Choice Collection.
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