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A Criminal Is Born (1938) More at IMDbPro »


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Release Date:
5 June 1938 (USA) See more »
An entry in the "Crime Does Not Pay" series, it tells the true story of how a young man, ignored by his parents, gets into a gang and starts a crime spree which leads to murder. Full summary » | Add synopsis »
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Produced With Carvel In Mind See more (3 total) »


  (in credits order)
George P. Breakston ... Henry
David Durand ... Rodney aka Rod
Norman Phillips Jr. ... Tom (as Norman Phillips)
Warren McCollum ... Jimmy Wheeler
Joseph Crehan ... Frank Wheeler, Jimmy's Father
Dorothy Vaughan ... Martha Wheeler, Jimmy's Mother
Eddy Waller ... Joe - Cafe Owner, Second Shooting Victim
Ben Taggart ... Man in Alley - First Shooting Victim
Harry Strang ... Cop
Rex Lease ... (scenes deleted)
Tom Kennedy ... (scenes deleted)
rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Chuck Hamilton ... Police Car Driver (archive footage)
Harry C. Bradley ... Druggist (uncredited)
Eddy Chandler ... Rod's Father (uncredited)
Cap Somers ... Patrol Driver (uncredited)
William Stack ... Judge Charles Edwin Marshall (uncredited)
Charles Sullivan ... Radio Patrol Cop (uncredited)
Emerson Treacy ... Motorist (uncredited)

Directed by
Leslie Fenton 
Produced by
Jack Chertok .... producer

Production CompaniesDistributorsOther Companies

Additional Details

Also Known As:
"Crime Does Not Pay No. 17: A Criminal Is Born" - USA (series title)
See more »
USA:21 min
Aspect Ratio:
1.37 : 1 See more »
Sound Mix:
Mono (Western Electric Sound System)
Finland:S (1945)


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Produced With Carvel In Mind, 17 January 2010
Author: bkoganbing from Buffalo, New York

With an obvious play on words of a popular film that came out of another studio, MGM made this short subject A Criminal Is Born as part of its Crime Does Not Pay series. In its time the short subjects which range in quality purport to show the easiness in which can fall into criminal ways and how it can be avoided.

One look at it and you can tell this film does not exactly relate to the urban ghetto. In fact look closely and you'll note it looks very much the streets of Carvel, that mythical small town where the Hardy family comes from. Like the other studio moguls, Louis B. Mayer did not believe in leaving assets lying idle be they human or material.

In fact more than the sets give this short subject an identification with Carvel. George Breakston who played Mickey Rooney's best friend Beezy in the Andy Hardy series, is one of the three young budding criminals. The lead however is Warren McCollum, whose dad Joseph Crehan is preoccupied with too many civic affairs and his own business to deal with a teenage kid with too much idle time on his hands. Ditto for David Durand and Breakston. A fourth kid played by Norman Phillips, Jr., is shown to have concerned parents who make sure his time is filled with useful pursuits.

McCollum and the kids deliver some sincere performances and William Stack as the judge could easily have been Lewis Stone sternly delivering a lecture from the bench. A Criminal Is Born is dated for the most part, but still a sincere effort to tell parents to know where their kids are and take an interest in what they're doing.

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