7.0/10
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42 user 26 critic

They Made Me a Criminal (1939)

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

Director:

Busby Berkeley

Writers:

Sig Herzig (screen play), Bertram Millhauser (from a novel by) | 1 more credit »
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
John Garfield ... Johnnie
The Dead End Kids The Dead End Kids ... (as The 'Dead End' Kids)
Claude Rains ... Detective Phelan
Ann Sheridan ... Goldie
May Robson ... Grandma
Gloria Dickson ... Peggy
Billy Halop ... Tommy
Bobby Jordan ... Angel
Leo Gorcey ... Spit
Huntz Hall ... Dippy
Gabriel Dell ... T.B.
Bernard Punsly ... Milt (as Bernard Punsley)
Robert Gleckler ... Doc Ward
John Ridgely ... Magee
Barbara Pepper ... 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:

YOU'D GIVE A DOG A BETTER CHANCE! (re-release print ad - all caps) See more »


Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

28 January 1939 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

I Became a Criminal See more »

Filming Locations:

Palm Desert, California, USA See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Warner Bros. See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Apparently, the copyright on this film was not renewed, and so it fell into public domain. As a result, discount VHS and DVD dealers, who do not ordinarily include copyrighted major studio titles in their inventories, do offer this one. Unfortunately, since they don't have access to original negative material, the transfers are usually inferior. See more »

Goofs

When "Jack Dorney" and some of the kids were trapped in the water tank, they swam to the bottom of the tank to lift a drain cap to let out the water so they wouldn't drown. Of course, the pressure of 10 feet of water in the tank would have exerted 500-600 pounds per square foot on that drain cap, making it much more difficult if not impossible for them to lift it. See more »

Quotes

Johnnie Bradfield, aka Jack Dorney: If you're rootin' for me, I'll go in there and bang the ears off the biggest guy in the world.
See more »

Connections

Featured in Classic Comedy Teams (1986) See more »

Soundtracks

Spirit of Independence
(1912) (uncredited)
Music by Abe Holzmann
Played as Jack enters the ring for his fight
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

An Unusual Blend of Talent Comes Together Very Well
24 October 2005 | by Snow LeopardSee all my reviews

The blend of talent in "They Made Me A Criminal" is rather unusual, with John Garfield, who was at his best in film-noir type settings, Claude Rains, a skilled and classy character actor, and the Dead End Kids, best known for more boisterous material. The story is written to give all of them some good moments, and as a whole it works quite well.

Garfield gets a tailor-made role as a boxing champion who goes on the run after he is set up and framed. It was Garfield's misfortune that perhaps his best role, in "The Postman Always Rings Twice", was overshadowed (through no fault of his own, since it would have happened to almost anyone in the role) by Lana Turner's unforgettable performance. Here, Garfield gets the chance to show what he can do, showing a tough side, a cynical side, and, at the right times, a somewhat more thoughtful side.

The story is very interesting, and other than a couple of slightly implausible developments, it works well in mixing some different kinds of material and settings. The supporting cast all does well, although Rains has to battle with his role, as a tough-cop character that doesn't really make the best use of his strengths.

In keeping everything together and on-track, Busby Berkeley shows the same kind of skill that enabled him to produce the variety numbers for which he was better known. He comes in for his share of the credit here in creating an interesting movie with some unusual features.


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