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I Am a Criminal (1938)

Approved | | Crime, Drama | 7 December 1938 (USA)
Brad McArthur hires Clint Reynolds as his press agent when he is charged with manslaughter and wants to build himself up in the public's eye as a humanitarian. Clint has him adopt an orphan... See full summary »


William Nigh


Harrison Jacobs (story), John W. Krafft (screenplay)




Complete credited cast:
John Carroll ... Brad McArthur
Kay Linaker ... Linda La Rue
Craig Reynolds ... Clint Reynolds
Martin Spellman ... Bobby
Lester Matthews ... District Attorney George Lane
Mary Kornman ... Alice Martin
May Beatty ... Maggie
Robert Fiske ... Attorney Phil Collins
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Allan Cavan ... De Motte
Edward Earle ... Clark
Byron Foulger ... Ed Harper
Jack Kennedy Jack Kennedy ... Sheriff


Brad McArthur hires Clint Reynolds as his press agent when he is charged with manslaughter and wants to build himself up in the public's eye as a humanitarian. Clint has him adopt an orphan newsboy, Bobby, of whom Brad becomes very fond. But Clint and Brad's girlfriend Linda, carrying on an affair behind his back, double-cross him. When Linda lies about Bobby, Maggie, the kind-hearted cook tells Brad the truth. He throws Clint and Linda out of the house. The adverse publicity, as Clint tries for revenge, makes Brad decide jump bail and leave town. He and Bobby end up in a mountain resort owned by Alice Martin, and Brad and Alice fall in love. The police are closing in, after been tipped off by Linda, and Brad sacrifices his freedom by rescuing Bobby from drowning. Bobby and Alice promise to wait for him. Written by Les Adams <longhorn1939@suddenlink.net>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


FLASH! Mr. and Mrs. America! Here's a new racket..Brad McArthur, king of killers, has hired a press agent to keep him OFF the front pages! See more »


Crime | Drama


Approved | See all certifications »

Did You Know?


The earliest documented telecast of this film occurred Monday 24 January 1944 on New York City's pioneer television station WNBT (Channel 1). Post-WWII television viewers got their first look at in New York City Friday 17 September 1948 on WCBS (Channel 2), in Detroit Thursday 18 November 1948 on WJBK (Channel 2), in Chicago Thursday 30 December 1948 on WBKB (Channel 4) and in Los Angeles Monday 3 October 1949 on KTLA (Channel 5). See more »


Remade as Smart Guy (1943) See more »

User Reviews

Low Budget Male Version of Little Miss Marker is Cute
22 May 2011 | by jayraskin1See all my reviews

This was in a DVD package of 16 gangster films. When I saw the opening title, "A Monogram Picture," I winched as I knew it was going to be a poverty row "C" picture. However, I cheered up a bit when I saw that the director was William Nigh who had done the fine "Mr Wong" detective series and the excellent spy drama "British Intelligence," both with Boris Karloff.

The movie starts out with a very long and talky scene of the District Attorney George Lane (Lester Matthews) telling gangster Brad McArthur (John Carroll) that he was going to clean up the city by getting him. McArthur says that he's a rich businessman who employs a lot of people and has a lot of friends. I like a film that lays its cards on the table. I expected the film to be a battle of wills and guns between the D.A. and the criminal.

Surprisingly, this turns out to be a subplot. The real plot develops when McArthur meets newspaperboy and street urchin Bobby (Martin Spellman). Bobby is an orphan, living alone, making $4 a week. McArthur offers him $6 a week to come work for him. McArthur wants to use Bobby to establish a clean image. The rest of the movie is really about the bonding of McArthur and Bobby.

Your reaction to the movie will hinge on your reaction to Martin Spellman's portrayal of young Bobby. If you find him adorable and sweet, you will probably like the movie. If you find him sugary, overacting, and annoying, you'll hate it. Martin did go on to appear in "A" pictures,"Beau Geste" and "Let Us Live" (starting Maureen O'Sullivan and Henry Fonda). His career consisted of about a dozen films that he did between the ages of 13 and 16. Based on this picture, one would have expected him to become a star or at least a good character actor.

John Carroll gives a nice, laid-back performance as the gangster. He never became a big star, but he had some good parts in some "A" pictures, including "Susan and God" (Joan Crawford and Fredric March) and "Go West" (The Marx Brothers) This is a cute and sweet film in the kid-turns-bachelor's-life-upside-down mold. If you're looking for a real tough gangster flick, run away quick.

The film is hindered by its low budget sets and obviously quick production schedule which seems to have forced a many scenes to be done in long takes. I suspect they only had a five or six day shooting schedule. Still director Nigh is a good story-teller and makes a very pedestrian comic melodrama fun to watch.

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Release Date:

7 December 1938 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

A Justiça não Perdoa See more »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Mono (Western Electric Mirrophonic Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »

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