- The film was based on Robert E. Burns' autobiographical story. Basically the story was true except for two important particulars. He actually did steal the $5.29 in order to eat, and he finally succeeded in evading the Georgia legal system with the help of three New Jersey governors. Burns actually slipped into Hollywood and worked for a few weeks on the film, but ultimately the stress and risk were too much, and he fled back to the safety of New Jersey. The book and film helped bring about the collapse of the brutal Georgia chain gang system. Warner took a big a chance on the film as social commentary was not done in films. However, Chain Gang was a success and helped establish Warner as the studio with a social conscience--it also helped save the ailing studio. Even though Georgia was never named in the film, it led to numerous law suits against the studio, the banning of the film in Georgia, and threats to the studio head and director that should they ever cross the border into Georgia they would be treated to a dose of the social evil that they so roundly denounced.
Please support TCMDB by adding to this information.Click here to contribute