The farm needs money and Johnny knows he can obviously win it. The Dead End Kids are hilarious. You call Garfield one of the coolest actors working in the 1940s, Eric, but I see little evidence to back up that claim based on his performance here. Can this dish crab the trouble boys before she does the big sleep? It is also very relevant. The cast and crew had to cover their heads and torsos with netting between shots to protect themselves from gnats, which swarmed constantly. Garfield's rapid rise at the studio gave them a second chance to remake the earlier film. The Dead End Kids with Gloria Dickson and John Garfield in They Made Me a Criminal.
In some ways this movie is a sequel to Dead End from 1937. Garfield also enjoyed both of his leading ladies, Ann Sheridan and Gloria Dickson. The description of one of the fights by the ringside commentator is more entertaining than any of the fights that are actually shown. Combining well choreographed fight and action scenes with the suspense and drama delivered by Garfield, Sheridan and Rains, director Busby Berkeley creates an exciting and sympathetic story of a life and redemption. The afternoon temperatures were so high they would have melted the film in the cameras. Garfield had a particularly good time working with the Dead End Kids, a group of young New York actors -- including Billy Halop, Bobby Jordan, Leo Gorcey and Huntz Hall -- who had come to Hollywood to re-create their stage roles in the film version of Dead End 1937. When fatigue causes him to clumsily fumble what cash he has left, three tough guys at the counter near him see and become interested.
Smith's face is red pulp; red, red pulp. He seeks the advice of his attorney. Scott, although your review is humorously written you are too hard on this likable movie. However boxing in such a public event will surely expose him. Johnnie is an idiot who runs for his life seemingly on foot most of the way from New York City to California on the word of his lawyer that he will go to prison if he doesn't, but there is only circumstantial evidence to link him to the crime. Johnny raises a fist, then a look of horror spreads across his face as he remembers what the lawyer told him. The love affair angle is the weakest part of the plot.
Another scene that made me laugh is when Johnnie and the boys are frolicking together in a water tank when a farmer opens up the sluices and begins to drain the tank. Johnny hits the the road and ends up on a farm out west. But there is that New York Detective, Phelan, that does not believe he is dead and is chasing him. The same evening he won the world championship, he is charged for the murder of a reporter and is taken for dead. Studio head Jack Warner halted distribution just as Blackwell's Island was on the way to theatres as a second feature.
Oh and just for the record the farm is set in Arizona not California. After some initial bickering, Johnny starts to settle in and soon develops a relationship with the boys in the form of a male mentor. The studio had originally considered the re-make for Errol Flynn, but when he scored solidly in Captain Blood 1935 and other costume swashbucklers, they decided to use him primarily in period pictures. Both were romantically linked with their leading man, a situation that would recur throughout his career. I did catch one error, though - I was just amused that they didn't edit it from the film.
Then again, maybe I'm better off to go bake some muffins, too. There was only one snag in the studio's plans. Instead of helping Johnny to clear his name, this crooked slime advises Johnny to change his name, run like a fugitive, and never to raise a fist to anyone lest his boxing stance be recognized. With Garfield's success in Four Daughters, Warner Bros. Photos © Copyright Warner Bros 1939.
This movie has a long history. They Made Me A Criminal is one of my favorite old black and white movies. Berkeley had to move fast during location shooting in Palm Desert, especially while filming the scenes on the farm where Garfield hides out. It's dramatic, romantic, funny and heart warming. One morning, he awakens from a drunken stupor to read in the newspaper that he has murdered a reporter and then gotten killed in a fiery car crash. The only witnesses who could have exonerated him were his manager and girlfriend, both of whom have died in an automobile accident.
Johnny learns about the murder for which he is accused and car crash in which he is thought to have died from a newspaper after awakening from a drunken sleep the next morning. An unlikely scenario, but not a so bad film. Then one day a barnstorming boxer comes to town, offering anyone money who can stay in the ring for so many rounds. Working with cameraman James Wong Howe, he created fight scenes that wouldn't be surpassed until Howe shot another Garfield picture, Body and Soul, in 1947. Things get much better as it moves along. Too little is seen of Ann Sheridan who plays his doomed girlfriend the one who runs out on him,not the farm girlfriend mentioned elsewhere on this page.