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They Made Me a Criminal (Warner Bros 1939, John Garfield, Claude Rains)



Musical fantasist Busby Berkeley takes on the Warner Bros. crime genre in They Made Me A Criminal and the result is a fascinating portrait of a man with a second chance.

John Garfield, a drunken lout of a boxing champion, hightails it when the headlines say he killed a reporter and then died in a fiery car wreck. He lands at a camp for troubled kids and sees a chance for redemption in the faces of the Dead End Kids. Berkeley’s choreographic skills pay off in terrific boxing action.

They Made Me a Criminal marked the first leading role for John Garfield, following his 1938 screen debut, Four Daughters. He had already made Blackwell’s Island (1939), but Warner Bros. shelved it until Four Daughters came out.

Remake of The Life of Jimmy Dolan (1933).


Director: Busby Berkeley Producer: Benjamin Glazer Director of Photography: James Wong Howe Editor: Jack Killifer Composer: Max Steiner Screenwriter: Sig Herzig Production Designer: Anton Grot

production details
USA | Warner Bros | 92 minutes | 1939

Director: Busby Berkeley
Script: Sig Herzig,

John Garfield as Johnnie Bradfield, aka Jack Dorney
Irving Bacon as Gas Station Attendant
Stuart Holmes as Second Fight Timekeeper
Bert Roach as Hendricks
Barbara Pepper as Budgie Massey
Ward Bond as Lenihan
Doris Lloyd as Mrs. Williamson
Cyril Ring as First Fight Ringsider
Jack Mower as Man in Locker Room After First Fight
Bob Perry as Cawley – Jack’s Handler
Claude Rains as Det. Monty Phelan
John Ridgely as Charles ‘Charlie’ Magee (reporter)
William B. Davidson as Ennis
Tom Dugan as Man Behind Grandma
Cliff Clark as Manager
Leo Gorcey as Spit
Leyland Hodgson as Mr. Williamson
The ‘Dead End’ Kids as Tommy’s Gang
Ann Sheridan as Goldie West
May Robson as Grandma Rafferty
Gloria Dickson as Peggy
Billy Halop as Tommy
Bobby Jordan as Angel
Huntz Hall as Dippy
Gabriel Dell as T.B.
Bernard Punsly as Milt (as Bernard Punsley)
Robert Gleckler as Doc Ward (Johnnie’s manager)
Ronald Sinclair as J. Douglas Williamson
Louis Jean Heydt as Smith
Frank Riggi as Gaspar Rutchek
Clem Bevans as Ticket Taker
Sam McDaniel as Splash
Robert Strange as Malvin
Dick Wessel as Collucci
Raymond Brown as Sheriff
Sam Hayes as Fight Announcer
Jack Austin as Cop #1
Richard Bond as Reporter at First Fight
Edwin Brian as Newsboy
Mushy Callahan as Schwimmer
Nat Carr as Haskell – Reporter at First Fight
Eddy Chandler as Detective #2
Georgie Cooper as Elderly Lady
Hal Craig as Detective #3
Joe Cunningham as Columnist
John Dilson as Doctor
Mike Donovan as Policeman
John Harron as First Fight Radio Announcer
Arthur Housman as Drunk Next to Grandma
Donald Kerr as Man in Ring After First Fight
Reid Kilpatrick as Radio Sports Commentator (voice)
Harry Leroy as Spectator at Second Fight
Al Lloyd as Man in Front of Spit
Frank Mayo as Man at First Fight with Tophat
Larry McGrath as Second Fight Referee
Frank Meredith as Cop #2
Jimmy O’Gatty as Rutchek’s Handler
Paul Panzer as Jim – Assistant Ticket Taker
Charles Randolph as First Fight Referee
John J. Richardson as Reporter
Dave Roberts as Police Announcer (voice)
Sally Sage as Girl Entering Locker Room
Cliff Saum as Man in Front of Tommy
Janet Shaw as Girl Entering Locker Room
John Sheehan as Man in Front of Grandma
Charles Sullivan as Second Fight Trainer
Elliott Sullivan as Mel – Hoodlum Stealing $50
Dorothy Varden as Minor Role
Tom Wilson as Kid Tacoma
Jack Wise as Second Fight Ticket Seller


Alastair James is the editor in chief for Memorable TV. He has been involved in media since his university days. Alastair is passionate about television, and some of his favourite shows include Line of Duty, Luther and Traitors. He is always on the lookout for hot new shows, and is always keen to share his knowledge with others.

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