They Made Me a Criminal (1939)

92 mins | Drama | 28 January 1939

Director:

Busby Berkeley

Writer:

Sig Herzig

Cinematographer:

James Wong Howe

Editor:

Jack Killifer

Production Designer:

Anton Grot

Production Company:

Warner Bros. Pictures, Inc.
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HISTORY

According to a news item in HR , Warner Bros. executives decided to add several scenes to boost the production values of this film after watching a rough cut. The picture marked John Garfield's first starring role in films. In 1933, First National produced The Life of Jimmy Dolan , the first screen version of the Bertram Millhauser-Beulah Marie Dix play (see above). Actors Billy Halop, Bobby Jordan, Leo Gorcey, Huntz Hall and Gabriel Dell were featured in Warner Bros.' "The Dead End Kids" films. Although their character names were different in those films, their characterizations in They Made Me a Criminal were similar. For additional films featuring these actors, See Entry for Crime School and consult the Series Index under "The Dead End Kids," "The East Side Kids" and "The Little Tough ... More Less

According to a news item in HR , Warner Bros. executives decided to add several scenes to boost the production values of this film after watching a rough cut. The picture marked John Garfield's first starring role in films. In 1933, First National produced The Life of Jimmy Dolan , the first screen version of the Bertram Millhauser-Beulah Marie Dix play (see above). Actors Billy Halop, Bobby Jordan, Leo Gorcey, Huntz Hall and Gabriel Dell were featured in Warner Bros.' "The Dead End Kids" films. Although their character names were different in those films, their characterizations in They Made Me a Criminal were similar. For additional films featuring these actors, See Entry for Crime School and consult the Series Index under "The Dead End Kids," "The East Side Kids" and "The Little Tough Guys." More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Daily Variety
31 Dec 38
p. 3.
Film Daily
18 Jan 39
p. 5.
Hollywood Reporter
20 Aug 38
pp. 8-9.
Hollywood Reporter
8 Oct 38
pp. 8-9.
Hollywood Reporter
2 Nov 38
p. 7.
Hollywood Reporter
31 Dec 38
p. 3.
Motion Picture Daily
5 Jan 39
p. 7.
Motion Picture Herald
7 Jan 39
p. 38, 40
New York Times
21 Jan 39
p. 19.
Variety
25 Jan 39
p. 11.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXT
Jack L. Warner in charge of prod
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Asst dir
PRODUCERS
Exec prod
Assoc prod
WRITER
PHOTOGRAPHY
ART DIRECTOR
Art dir
FILM EDITOR
COSTUMES
MUSIC
Mus score
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the play Sucker by Bertram Millhauser and Beulah Marie Dix (published 4 Apr 1933, New York).
DETAILS
Release Date:
28 January 1939
Premiere Information:
New York opening: week of 21 January 1939
Production Date:
mid August--mid October 1938
addl scenes early November 1938
Copyright Claimant:
Warner Bros. Pictures, Inc.
Copyright Date:
4 January 1939
Copyright Number:
LP8592
Physical Properties:
Sound
RCA Victor System
Black and White
Duration(in mins):
92
Length(in reels):
11
Country:
United States
PCA No:
4701
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

Johnnie Bradfield, a deadly and cynical prize fighter, has just slugged his way to the championship when, during a drunken brawl in his apartment, his manager, Doc Wood, accidentally kills Magee, a newspaper reporter, and fixes the evidence so it appears that Johnnie has done the deed. Doc then makes his getaway, but perishes in a car accident while wearing Johnnie's watch. The next morning, Johnnie awakens in a strange place and reads a newspaper article informing him that he has perished in a car wreck after murdering a reporter. On the advice of a shady lawyer, the champ flees, changes his identity and becomes an outcast. He lands in Arizona, where he casts his lot with Grandma, who runs a date ranch with the help of Peggy and the Dead End Kids. The Kids have been sent from New York by a kindly priest who wants to rehabilitate the boys. At the ranch, the regeneration of the boxer begins as Peggy helps him to fight his inborn tendency to believe that everyone is a sucker and the world has it in for him. Johnnie's salvation comes when he enters a local fight ring to win some money so that he can help his friends open up a filling station. Meanwhile, New York detective Phelan cleverly picks up Johnnie's trail and tracks him to ringside where he is fighting a heavyweight. As Johnnie slugs his heart out for his friends, the detective begins to reflect and, realizing that the fighter has been punished enough, returns to New York without his ... +


Johnnie Bradfield, a deadly and cynical prize fighter, has just slugged his way to the championship when, during a drunken brawl in his apartment, his manager, Doc Wood, accidentally kills Magee, a newspaper reporter, and fixes the evidence so it appears that Johnnie has done the deed. Doc then makes his getaway, but perishes in a car accident while wearing Johnnie's watch. The next morning, Johnnie awakens in a strange place and reads a newspaper article informing him that he has perished in a car wreck after murdering a reporter. On the advice of a shady lawyer, the champ flees, changes his identity and becomes an outcast. He lands in Arizona, where he casts his lot with Grandma, who runs a date ranch with the help of Peggy and the Dead End Kids. The Kids have been sent from New York by a kindly priest who wants to rehabilitate the boys. At the ranch, the regeneration of the boxer begins as Peggy helps him to fight his inborn tendency to believe that everyone is a sucker and the world has it in for him. Johnnie's salvation comes when he enters a local fight ring to win some money so that he can help his friends open up a filling station. Meanwhile, New York detective Phelan cleverly picks up Johnnie's trail and tracks him to ringside where he is fighting a heavyweight. As Johnnie slugs his heart out for his friends, the detective begins to reflect and, realizing that the fighter has been punished enough, returns to New York without his prisoner. +

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.