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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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Crime Does Not Pay 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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2 out of 4 people found the following review useful.
Crime Does Not Pay, 3 August 2009
Author: Michael_Elliott from Louisville, KY

Criminal is Born, A (1938)

*** 1/2 (out of 4)

Hard-hitting entry in MGM's Crime Does Not Pay series takes a look at the parents responsibility in keeping their kids off the streets. Four friends begin doing small crimes but one of their fathers gets him interested in fishing. That friend drops out of the gang just in time because the other four start doing more serious crimes after they find a gun. I'm a major fan of this series so if you find these movies over dramatic or too preachy then I'm sure you're going to feel the same way about this entry. With that said, I think it's important to remember when this film was being released and with that in mind, the movie works very well. I thought director Fenton did a good job at building up some suspense as the kids start doing more dangerous crimes. There's one robbery where a clerk trips over a certain item that I won't mention here but the stunt really appears to have gone wrong and the stunt man got injured. I have nothing to back this up but when you watch the film check the sequence out again. The performances were pretty good with Warren McCollum really standing out as one of the punk kids. The 20-minutes fly by at a very fast pace making this one of the better entries in the series.

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