Unchained (film)

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Unchained (film poster).jpg
Directed by Hall Bartlett
Produced by Hall Bartlett
Written by Screenplay by:
Hall Bartlett
Novel by:
Kenyon J. Scudder
Starring Elroy Hirsch
Barbara Hale
Chester Morris
Todd Duncan
Johnny Johnston
Peggy Knudsen
Jerry Paris
John Qualen
Music by Alex North (song "Unchained Melody")
Cinematography Virgil E. Miller
Edited by Cotton Warburton
Distributed by Warner Bros. Pictures
Release dates
January 19, 1955 (USA)
Running time
75 min.
Language United States

Unchained is a 1955 prison film based on the non-fiction book Prisoners are People by Kenyon J. Scudder. The film is most remembered for its theme song, "Unchained Melody", which was a #1 R&B hit for both Al Hibbler & Roy Hamilton in 1955, with Hibbler's version also reaching #3 on the Billboard Chart & also a #4 Pop hit for the Righteous Brothers in 1965.

The film was based on the career of Kenyon J. Scudder, former supervisor at Chino prison in California, as detailed in Scudder's book. Former football player Elroy "Crazylegs" Hirsch played the lead character, while other inmates were played by Chester Morris and Jerry Paris (later of The Dick Van Dyke Show), among others. Others in the cast included Peggy Knudsen and Barbara Hale, who appeared as women visiting the prisoners. Jazz musician Dexter Gordon has a small, uncredited role in the film, that of a saxophone player in the prison jazz band.

The film was shot at the correctional facility in Chino, California, where Gordon was then serving time for possession of heroin.

Plot synopsis[edit]

Steve Davitt is in a medium security prison and is struggling with two options: finishing his sentence, or seeing his wife and family by escaping the prison. He is stopped from escaping by a trustee inmate, who beats him up and drags him back to his cell to save him from himself.


Oscar nomination[edit]


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