7.1/10
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41 user 24 critic

They Made Me a Criminal (1939)

Approved | | Crime, Drama, Film-Noir | 28 January 1939 (USA)
A boxer flees believing he has comitted a murder while he was drunk.

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Writers:

(screen play), (from a novel by) | 1 more credit »
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
Johnnie
The 'Dead End' Kids
...
Detective Phelan
...
Goldie
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Grandma
...
Peggy
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Tommy
...
...
...
...
...
Milt (as Bernard Punsley)
Robert Gleckler ...
Doc Ward
...
Magee
...
Budgie
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Storyline

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

Taglines:

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


Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

28 January 1939 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

I Became a Criminal  »

Filming Locations:

 »

Company Credits

Production Co:

 »
Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

(RCA Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

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

Goofs

The newspaper reporter is killed in the boxer's room, and the boxer is passed out in the same room, but the next day the reporter is reported as being dead, so someone must have found the body - so how did they find the dead reporter but not see the sleeping boxer? He woke up the next day when the paper that mentions the dead reporter hits his door. See more »

Quotes

Speed: She took eight gallons. That's a dollar twenty-eight.
See more »

Connections

Followed by You're Not So Tough (1940) See more »

Soundtracks

Cowboy from Brooklyn
(1938) (uncredited)
Music by Harry Warren
Played as background music
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

 
Flight or Fight: Both Here in This Tale of Loyalty and Redemption

The young John Garfield turned in a fine performance in the 1939 "They Made Me a Criminal." Celebrating a ring victory in a jammed locker room, boxer Johnnie Bradfield emotes about his love of mom, rejection of booze and clean living style to fans, including cops, who eat it up. Later in the evening he's plowed and tussling with his bimbo gal while his manager, in on the con, shares the evening. And the whiskey.

A problem develops when another couple arrives. The guy is a newspaper reporter and he says he'll expose Bradfield's phony life on the front page. The manager kills the reporter and he and the floozy depart. The murder discovered, cops, later, are on the lookout for the now somnolent boxer whose car is driven by the manager with his new girlfriend-Johnny's now instant ex. A police chase ends with a fiery car crash. Manager and girl are dead and unrecognizable.

Johnny discovers that he's supposed to be a killer. But he's also presumed dead. Seeking advice from a lawyer, he entrusts the counselor with the key to a bank deposit box holding his sole savings, $10,000. The lawyer later gives Johnny $250 and tells him that the balance is his fee for giving him professional advice: get out of town, fast, and go far away. (I would never charge a client more than $5,000 for such pithy, succinct and wise direction.)

Johnny, now a freight train hopping hobo, winds up conveniently passing out at an Arizona date ranch where he's nursed back to health by beautiful Goldie West, Ann Sheridan, a fine actress whose career was in the ascendancy. Taking Jack Dorney as his moniker, the pugilist loses some of his rough edges as he falls in love with Goldie. He becomes a mentor and pal to - The Dead End Kids. Familiar screen characters to pre-war moviegoers.

A chance to make money arises when an exhibition boxer shows up challenging any suckers to last several rounds in the ring with him. It's a natural temptation for Bradfield/Dorney but there's a fly in the ointment. Who should show up but New York detective Monty Phelan, the laughing stock of the department? He's been on morgue duty for ages because of a slight mistake early in his career that sent an innocent man to Old Sparky (we all make mistakes, don't we?) Phelan recognized Bradfield from a news photo and he's there to watch the fight and make the pinch. Claude Rains is the cop who's endured slights and barbs from his fellow officers for years.

What follows is predictable but it's well acted. I hope this was a main feature when it was released-it's too good to rank as a "B" second on a marquee.

Busby Berkeley, best known as an outstanding choreographer, directed "They Made Me a Criminal" and Max Steiner, one of Hollywood's all-time prolific score composers, wrote nice but not extraordinary music for the film.

Now available on DVD from Alpha Video, the movie set me back a mere $4.99 and gave me real pleasure. I'll view it again.

8/10


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