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Monday, March 20, 2017

They Made Me A Criminal (1939)

When a not too bright boxer (John Garfield) gets framed for a murder committed by his manager, he goes on the run and ends up in Arizona. It's there that he becomes involved with a girl (Gloria Dickson) and her grandmother (May Robson) who are running a date farm where juvenile delinquents from New York are sent for rehabilitation. Based on a novel and play by Bertram Milhauser and Beulah Marie Dix and directed by Busby Berkeley (42ND STREET). The juvenile delinquents are played by the same actors who played the juvenile delinquents in DEAD END (1937) and went on to make several movies as The Dead End Kids. They were tolerable in DEAD END but they were a one joke act that was already beginning to wear thin by the time this movie came out. Some how we're supposed to find them amusing but I found them obnoxious and irritating and it didn't help that Garfield's character is kind of a sleazebag so that I didn't have much empathy for him either. Ann Sheridan as Garfield's good time girlfriend is killed off far too early in the movie and she's replaced by Gloria Dickson who's appealing in a generic sort of way. It's pretty maudlin in spots and I suppose one's affection for it depends on how Warners gritty 1930s output appeal to you. With Claude Rains playing against type as a tough talking detective.

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