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Dust Be My Destiny (1939)

Approved | | Crime, Drama, Film-Noir | 16 September 1939 (USA)
Embittered after serving time for a burglary he did not commit, Joe Bell is soon back in jail, on a prison farm. His love for the foreman's daughter leads to a fight between them, leading ... See full summary »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
... Joe Bell
... Mabel Alden
... Mike Leonard
... Caruthers
... Hank Glenn
... Jimmy Glenn
... Pop
... Nick
... Charlie Garrett
... Prosecutor
... Slim Jones - Defense Attorney
Victor Kilian ... Doc Saunders
... Abe Connors
Ferike Boros ... Delicatessen Proprietress
... Venetti


Embittered after serving time for a burglary he did not commit, Joe Bell is soon back in jail, on a prison farm. His love for the foreman's daughter leads to a fight between them, leading to the older man's death due to a weak heart. Joe and Mabel go on the run as he thinks no-one would believe a nobody like him. Written by Ian Harries <ih@doc.ic.ac.uk>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Crime | Drama | Film-Noir


Approved | See all certifications »




Release Date:

16 September 1939 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Cruel é o Meu Destino  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?


"Lux Radio Theater" broadcast a 60 minute radio adaptation of the movie on April 14, 1941 with John Garfield reprising his film role. See more »


Referenced in Public Enemies: The Golden Age of the Gangster Film (2008) See more »


In a Moment of Weakness
Music by Harry Warren
Played when Mabel shows Joe the ring after the wedding
See more »

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User Reviews

From now on Joe Bell runs the other way
12 April 2006 | by See all my reviews

****SPOILERS**** John Garfield's electrifying yet touching performance as fugitive from he law Joe Bell lifts this very convoluted and predictable movie about a man with a chip on his shoulder to where it gets to you no matter how corny and dated it is.

Sent up the river for 16 months for a crime he didn't commit Joe Bell is released when the real criminal was arrested for another crime and confessed to the one that Joe was convicted off. Bitter at society for the raw deal it gave him Joe spends the rest of the movie getting into trouble, from being arrested as a vagrant to being on the run for a murder, with a number of total strangers coming to his aid. The strangers help the confused and quick-tempered young man out despite jeopardizing their own safety and freedom in doing it.

First there's the old railroad break-man Pop, Charlie Grapewin, who let Joe and two of his hobo friends the Glenn brothers Hank & Jimmy, Bill Holap & Bobby Jordan, stay in a box-cart when he should have had them arrested. Later Joe hungry and desperate needing, together with his newlywed wife Mable (Priscilla Lane),a bite to eat meets kindly grocery store owner, Ferike Boros. Ferike offers Joe food for free seeing that the young man didn't have a dime on him. This act of kindness has the both guilt-ridden and embarrassed Joe walks out of the store, forgetting about his plans to rob it. and not take up Freike's offer for a free meal.

On the run and always a step ahead of the police Joe and Mable, who's step-father Charlie Garreth(Stanley Ridge) was the boss of the work farm whom Joe accidentally killed, end up in a small town where Joe finally lands a job that can make him a productive citizen. Joe becomes a photojournalist when he accidentally snapped a number of photos of a bank robbery that later resulted in the capture of the robbers.

Being a local hero Joe is very apprehensive to have his photo taken. His boss newspaper editor Mike Leonard, Alan Hale, hearing Joe out about his past misfortunes with the law takes the credit himself for the photos, to keep Joe from having his face plastered all over the papers. This has Mike end up almost being kidnapped by the hoods who robbed the bank. Joe seeing that Mike is about to be kidnapped and possibly murdered runs to his aid and not only saves his life but ends up getting all the unwanted publicity that he tried to avoid.

Not all that predictable of an ending "Dust be my Destiny" has all the people who helped Joe throughout the movie come to his defense. This leads the jury to find Joe innocent of the murder of Charlie Garreth due to extenuating circumstances. The bitter young man in the end learned that the world, and the deck of cards it dealt him, wasn't against him and having a persecution complex would only makes things more difficult not easy for the combative Joe Bell.

Made in 1939 "Dust be my Destiny" is not as corny and dated as you would have at first thought. John Garfield as well as Priscilla Lane's performances don't come across looking phony at all and. Their attempt to live honest and decent lives in spite of being on the lamb shows that, at least with John Garfield's Joe Bell, whatever miscarriage of justice that they were victim of it didn't drive the two to forsake the law and choose a life of crime.

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