They Made Me a Criminal (1939)

Approved  |   |  Crime, Drama, Film-Noir  |  28 January 1939 (USA)
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Reviews: 36 user | 25 critic

A boxer flees believing he has comitted a murder while he was drunk.



(screen play), (from a novel by), 3 more credits »
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Directors: Ewald André Dupont, Lewis Seiler
Stars: The 'Dead End' Kids, Margaret Lindsay, Ronald Reagan


Cast overview, first billed only:
The 'Dead End' Kids
Detective Phelan
Gloria Dickson ...
Billy Halop ...
Bobby Jordan ...
Huntz Hall ...
Gabriel Dell ...
Bernard Punsly ...
Milt (as Bernard Punsley)
Robert Gleckler ...
Doc Ward
John Ridgely ...


Johnnie is a boxer. The same evening he won the world championship, he is charged for the murder of a reporter and is taken for dead. Running away from New York, he ends up in a ranch in Arizona, run by an old lady as a work farm for delinquent teenagers. He falls in love with Peggy and became the teenagers' hero. But there is that New York Detective, Phelan, that does not believe he is dead and is chasing him... An unlikely scenario, but not a so bad film. Written by Yepok

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


I am a fugitive... I am hunted by ruthless men! I am shunned by decent women! I am doomed to hide forever! See more »


Approved | See all certifications »




Release Date:

28 January 1939 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

I Became a Criminal  »

Filming Locations:


Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(RCA Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Desert location shooting was so hot at times that the film melted in the camera. See more »


At 38minutes into the film Gloria Dickson's "Peggy" calls John Garfield's character "Johnnie" when he in fact is still under the guise & alias persona of "Jack Dorney"! She could not know that since he has not told anyone at that point of the film. See more »


J. Douglas Williamson: You think you're smart, don't you?
Spit: They call us "the Six Geniuses."
See more »


Followed by Angels Wash Their Faces (1939) See more »


By a Waterfall
(1933) (uncredited)
Music by Sammy Fain
Lyrics by Irving Kahal
Whistled and partially sung by Huntz Hall
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

Busby Berkeley smoothly shifts gears from geometric dancing girls to neat little crime drama
20 January 1999 | by (Huntington, NY) – See all my reviews

Known for his wonderfully cinematic dance sequences, Busby Berkeley went for a different genre in this fine 1939 crime drama. A youthful John Garfield plays Johnnie, a tough NYC boxer who scores a big break in the ring. He attends a drunken private party where a news reporter is murdered. The killer himself dies in a flaming auto wreck, but not before he successfully shifts the blame to Johnny. Johnny flees the city and hides out at a small boy's camp out west, populated by everyone's favorite wayward street gang, The Dead End Kids. All seems fine in this hide-out until a NYC detective (Claude Rains) who was on the murder case, happens by. Berkeley keeps the film going at a terrific pace. Berkeley would never settle for a point-and-shoot look to his film. His camera is all over the place, even underwater when the kids take over a water tank. There's all the stock characters of old cinema her e- the nice girl who softens Garfield's heart, the spry old grannie, the tough NYC cops and reporters. Fun movie.

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