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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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User Reviews:
Preachy--a rare misfire in the series. See more (4 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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1 out of 2 people found the following review useful.
Preachy--a rare misfire in the series., 13 November 2013
Author: planktonrules from Bradenton, Florida

This installment of the "Crime Does Not Pay" series begins with an introduction by Judge Marshall. However, like many of the 'experts' in these shorts, the judge is actually an actor (William Stack)! What follows is a story about some kids from normal homes that go bad--thanks to bad parenting! It begins by introducing the viewer to four young men. Three have selfish and self-absorbed parents--and ultimately the three boys end up going on a crime spree in some sick attempt to get attention and get their kicks. It goes from some petty thefts and ultimately ends up with murder! While much of this episode is very good, too many times the short preaches at the audience. It also makes the assumption that bad or indifferent parenting makes criminals--and the judge at the end even goes off on a harangue about this. Subtle, it ain't! Despite the slick MGM production values, this one is shallow and comes up short.

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IMDb USA section

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