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Unchained (film)

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Title: Unchained (film)  
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Subject: Academy Award for Best Original Song, Chester Morris, 28th Academy Awards, Unchained Melody, Unchained
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Unchained (film)

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 1
  • Cast 2
  • Oscar nomination 3
  • References 4
  • External links 5

Plot synopsis

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.


Oscar nomination


External links

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