7.3/10
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29 user 24 critic

I Became a Criminal (1947)

They Made Me a Fugitive (original title)
Approved | | Crime, Drama | 6 March 1948 (USA)
After WW2, former RAF airman Clem Morgan joins a gang of black-market smugglers-thieves but when a robbery goes wrong, Clem is caught , framed for a policeman's murder, and is sent to prison where he plots his escape and revenge.

Director:

Alberto Cavalcanti (as Cavalcanti)

Writers:

Jackson Budd (novel), Noel Langley (screenplay)
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1 nomination. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Sally Gray ... Sally
Trevor Howard ... Clem
Griffith Jones ... Narcy
Rene Ray ... Cora
Mary Merrall ... Aggie
Charles Farrell ... Curley
Michael Brennan Michael Brennan ... Jim
Jack McNaughton Jack McNaughton ... Soapy
Cyril Smith Cyril Smith ... Bert
John Penrose ... Shawney
Eve Ashley Eve Ashley ... Ellen
Phyllis Robins Phyllis Robins ... Olga
Bill O'Connor Bill O'Connor ... Bill
Maurice Denham ... Mr. Fenshaw
Vida Hope Vida Hope ... Mrs. Fenshaw
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Storyline

In this gritty film noir, cynical ex-RAF flyer Morgan, bored with civilian life, joins a break-in gang led by Narcy. On his first job, the getaway car crashes after killing a policeman. Morgan is framed as the driver and sent to jail. Seeking revenge, he escapes and heads for London. Along the way he's helped by a woman (Mrs. Fenshaw), who wants him to murder her husband. In London, Morgan is sheltered by Sally, who falls in love with him. He confronts Narcy and the gang in an abandoned warehouse. Brazilian Director Cavalcanti's crime drama should not be confused with the totally unrelated "They Made Me a Criminal" (1939). Written by Mike Rogers <MICHAELPEM@aol.com>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

Gangway for Gangland's Blazing Guns!

Genres:

Crime | Drama

Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

UK

Language:

English

Release Date:

6 March 1948 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

I Became a Criminal See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (RCA Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

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

Trivia

Trevor Howard was cast at very short notice after the actor first cast dropped out. See more »

Soundtracks

Caress Me
(uncredited)
Performed on-stage by Phyllis Robins and others
See more »

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User Reviews

 
The dialog alone is worth a rating of 9.
27 September 2009 | by Irie212See all my reviews

What a tight, smart movie. The only criticism I can really level at it is that it's not as good as "The Third Man," and that's only because it doesn't have the gravitas of the unconscionable criminality of Harry Lime.

It does have Trevor Howard, as one of the bad guys this time. His riveting performance as a minor-league crook is matched by Griffith Jones's as a major-league mobster. Sally Gray turns in a strong performance too as the femme fatale who, at one point, takes a beating that she withstands stoically until a girlfriend cleans her up and, finally, gives her a cup of tea. It may be that kindness, or perhaps the hot tea on her split lip, you don't know, but Gray breaks down at last and you realize what the beating has done to her.

The pace is swift, but not rushed. Extraneous but fascinating scenes are included—scenes which lead nowhere-- particularly the homicidal lisping woman and her drunken husband who shelter fugitive Trevor Howard in their house for brief but very creepy period.

Every frame is composed with extraordinary care, especially in the climactic scene in the funeral parlor, a scene that reminded me of nothing so much as "Cabinet of Doctor Caligari." There's hardly a right angle in it. The chiaroscuro photography by Otto Heller ("Alfie," "Victim," "Peeping Tom," etc. etc.) is only enhanced by editing that's almost as whip-crack as the dialog.

And as for that superb dialog… film noir movies typically have wisecrack lines, but this Noel Langley screenplay is brilliantly terse—in league with Chandler's work. If any character had two sentences in a row, I didn't notice. It's all lickety-split exchanges, and every line adds definition or motivation to the character speaking.

A personal note: This is the only film I've ever watched which, after it finished, I immediately started it over and watched it again from the beginning. It was that rich, that engaging, and that satisfying.


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