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|Directed by||Hall Bartlett|
|Produced by||Hall Bartlett|
|Written by||Screenplay by:
Kenyon J. Scudder
|Music by||Alex North (song "Unchained Melody")|
|Cinematography||Virgil E. Miller|
|Edited by||Cotton Warburton|
|Distributed by||Warner Bros. Pictures|
|January 19, 1955 (USA)|
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.
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. After receiving what he believes to be an unjust recommendation from the Adult Authority Board, he attempts his escape but is surprised by a trustee-inmate whom he has befriended. A fist-fight ensues. Steve Davitt wins the fight, heads for the fence to escape. After he starts climbing the fence, he hesitates twice, looks back and sees his trustee-friend on the ground and decides against going over the barb-wired fence after all. The scene ends with Steve Davitt turning around and heading back to the medium security prison.
- Elroy Hirsch as Steve Davitt
- Barbara Hale as Mary Davitt
- Chester Morris as Kenyon Scudder
- Peggy Knudsen as Elaine
- Jerry Paris as Joe Ravens
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