Thursday, April 20, 2017

They Made Me a Criminal (1939)

They Made Me a Criminal is a 1939 crime drama film noir, released by Warner Bros and directed by Busby Berkeley.  Busby Berkeley is more famously known for his work on musicals, having directed musicals like Footlight Parade, Gold Diggers of 1933, Dames, and more.  They Made Me a Criminal stars John Garfield, and also includes Claude Rains as well as Gloria Dickson, Ann Sheridan, a group of boys named “The Dead End Kids”, and others.  It’s a remake of an earlier film titled The Life of Jimmy Dolan, but it’s a worthy remake which some consider to be the greater of the two.
                This film was certainly one to remember, in my opinion.  John Garfield really carries this picture.  You may be a fan of his from other films like “The Postman Always Rings Twice” and “Humoresque”, two other pictures of which I’d recommend both, especially “Postman”.   The film starts off with John Garfield’s character, Johnnie, at the top of the boxing game.  It’s not long before someone is unintentionally killed, and Johnnie winds up to blame for it.  He wasn’t entirely unlucky though, as circumstances led him to knowledge that the police would be after him, and he was able to make the escape from town.

                Johnnie winds up further out West, meeting a bunch of young working boys on a ranch as well as a woman named Peggy, played by Gloria Dickson quite memorably.  He quickly takes an interest in her, and winds up working on the ranch under a different name.  Claude Rains plays the detective who is after Johnnie, and if you’re a fan of Claude Rains as I am (who isn’t?), you’ll surely like him in this role.  The characters just mentioned all come to know each other in interesting ways, making you root for Johnnie along the way.  I’m not going to spoil the ending, whether it goes with a happy or sad ending I’d rather you find out by watching the film!  I give it a solid three out of four stars!

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