Dust Be My Destiny (1939)

88 mins | Drama | 16 September 1939

Director:

Lewis Seiler

Writer:

Robert Rossen

Cinematographer:

James Wong Howe

Editor:

Warren Low

Production Designer:

Hugh Reticker

Production Company:

Warner Bros. Pictures, Inc.
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HISTORY

According to modern sources, the ending of the film originally called for Joe and Mabel to be shot to death. The commercial failure of You Only Live Once , which also featured a tragic ending, convinced Warner Bros. to give this film a happy ending. When writer Robert Rossen refused to write the ending, Seton Miller was brought in to write the final resolution. In 1941, John Garfield starred in the Lux Radio Theatre version of this story, and in 1942, Warners produced I Was Framed , starring Michael Ames and Julie Bishop and directed by D. Ross Lederman, which was also based on the Odlum ... More Less

According to modern sources, the ending of the film originally called for Joe and Mabel to be shot to death. The commercial failure of You Only Live Once , which also featured a tragic ending, convinced Warner Bros. to give this film a happy ending. When writer Robert Rossen refused to write the ending, Seton Miller was brought in to write the final resolution. In 1941, John Garfield starred in the Lux Radio Theatre version of this story, and in 1942, Warners produced I Was Framed , starring Michael Ames and Julie Bishop and directed by D. Ross Lederman, which was also based on the Odlum story. More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Daily Variety
11 Aug 39
p. 3.
Film Daily
10 Oct 39
p. 6.
Hollywood Reporter
29 Apr 39
pp. 6-7.
Hollywood Reporter
31 May 39
p. 4.
Hollywood Reporter
12 Aug 39
p. 3.
Motion Picture Daily
15 Aug 39
p. 6.
Motion Picture Herald
10 Jun 39
p. 35.
Motion Picture Herald
19 Aug 39
p. 50.
New York Times
7 Oct 39
p. 11.
Variety
16 Aug 39
p. 14.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXT
A First National Picture
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Dial dir
Asst dir
PRODUCERS
Exec prod
Exec prod
Assoc prod
WRITERS
Contr to scr and dial
PHOTOGRAPHY
ART DIRECTOR
Art dir
FILM EDITOR
MUSIC
Orch arr
SOUND
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec eff
PRODUCTION MISC
Tech adv
Unit mgr
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on a novel by Jerome Odlum (publication undetermined).
AUTHOR
DETAILS
Release Date:
16 September 1939
Production Date:
began late April 1939
Copyright Claimant:
Warner Bros. Pictures, Inc.
Copyright Date:
16 September 1939
Copyright Number:
LP9112
Physical Properties:
Sound
Black and White
Duration(in mins):
88
Length(in reels):
10
Country:
United States
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

Joe Bell, who has become a hardened cynic because he has served a prison term for a crime he did not commit, is searching for a place to settle down when he is picked up as a vagrant and sentenced to a county work farm. There, he meets Mabel Alden, the sympathetic stepdaughter of the brutal and drunken prison foreman, Charley, and the two fall in love. When Charley catches his daughter with Joe, a fight ensues in which the foreman is rendered unconscious. Panicked, Joe and Mabel flee the work farm and cross the state line, where, unable to afford the cost of a wedding, they agree to accept a free ceremony on a public stage. Immediately after completing their vows, they learn that Charley has died and that Joe is accused of his murder. Fearful that their marriage publicity will lead the police to them, they must constantly be on the run from the law. During their travels they are befriended by Nick, who gives them a job at his diner, but when the police track them down, they hit the road once again. Joe is so desperate that he is on the verge of pawning his one possession, his camera, when he stumbles upon a bank robbery and captures it on film. Impressed with the pictures, newspaper editor Mike Leonard offers Joe a job on the paper, and Joe confesses his predicament to him. Mike covers for Joe and later, when members of the gang threaten Mike unless he returns the negatives, Joe saves his life. Joe's heroism attracts the attention of the newspapers, and as he prepares to ... +


Joe Bell, who has become a hardened cynic because he has served a prison term for a crime he did not commit, is searching for a place to settle down when he is picked up as a vagrant and sentenced to a county work farm. There, he meets Mabel Alden, the sympathetic stepdaughter of the brutal and drunken prison foreman, Charley, and the two fall in love. When Charley catches his daughter with Joe, a fight ensues in which the foreman is rendered unconscious. Panicked, Joe and Mabel flee the work farm and cross the state line, where, unable to afford the cost of a wedding, they agree to accept a free ceremony on a public stage. Immediately after completing their vows, they learn that Charley has died and that Joe is accused of his murder. Fearful that their marriage publicity will lead the police to them, they must constantly be on the run from the law. During their travels they are befriended by Nick, who gives them a job at his diner, but when the police track them down, they hit the road once again. Joe is so desperate that he is on the verge of pawning his one possession, his camera, when he stumbles upon a bank robbery and captures it on film. Impressed with the pictures, newspaper editor Mike Leonard offers Joe a job on the paper, and Joe confesses his predicament to him. Mike covers for Joe and later, when members of the gang threaten Mike unless he returns the negatives, Joe saves his life. Joe's heroism attracts the attention of the newspapers, and as he prepares to flee once again, Mabel, aware that a life on the run is destroying them, turns in her husband. At his trial, the fugitive at last finds justice when he is acquitted and pronounced an innocent man, free to return to Mabel and his life. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.