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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, which became known as "Unchained Melody".

The film was based on the career of Kenyon J. Scudder, former supervisor at Chino, as detailed in Scudder's book. Most of the scenes were actually filmed on location at the prison. 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.

The film was originally released by Warner Bros. Pictures in 1955 and for a while was in the public domain when the copyright expired. The copyright was renewed in the 1980s by National Telefilm Associates (who bought the film after initial release), the rights to the film are now owned by Paramount Pictures through Republic Pictures - theatrical rights are owned by Paramount themselves, while video rights have been licensed to Lions Gate Entertainment, and TV rights to Trifecta Entertainment & Media.

Plot synopsis

Steve Davitt is in a medium security prison and is struggling with two options: finishing his sentence and seeing his wife and family or escaping the prison.

Oscar nomination


  • 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, Californiamarker, where Gordon was then serving time for possession of heroin.


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