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Context Film / TheyMadeMeACriminal

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2[[caption-width-right:350:Phelan arrives and ruins everything.]]
4''They Made Me a Criminal'' is a 1939 film starring John Garfield and Creator/ClaudeRains.
6Garfield plays Johnnie Bradfield, a rather sleazy champion boxer who projects an air of all-American wholesomeness while actually enjoying liquor and women. When Johnnie's rather unsavory habits are about to be exposed by a reporter, Johnnie's manager Doc confronts the reporter, and accidentally kills him. The manager and Johnnie's girlfriend Goldie then frame Johnnie for murder--and are promptly killed in a car wreck.
8Left with no other alternative Johnnie goes on the lam. He drifts all the way to Arizona, where he finds refuge at the Rafferty farm, a date farm that also serves as a reformatory for delinquent teens. Inspired by the kids, Johnnie turns over a new leaf. But his past, in the form of Detective Monty Phelan (Rains), can't be escaped that easily.
10One of the more dramatic cases of GenreAdultery on record, as this hard-bitten crime drama was directed by none other than Creator/BusbyBerkeley, better known as the director and choreographer of [[BusbyBerkeleyNumber elaborate, fantastical musical numbers]] in musical comedies like ''Film/FortySecondStreet'' and ''Film/FootlightParade''. Apparently Creator/WarnerBros gave him the gig to keep him at the studio; if so it failed, as Berkeley left for Creator/MetroGoldwynMayer right after completing this film.
12Music/MaxSteiner composed the score. A pre-stardom Creator/AnnSheridan has a small part as Goldie, Johnnie's faithless girlfriend.
14Not to be confused with the British FilmNoir, ''Film/TheyMadeMeAFugitive''.
19* ChekhovsGun: Phelan's comment in the opening sequence about how you can always recognize a man by the way he stands.
20* {{Delinquents}}: The various young teens from New York City, guilty of crimes like robbery and vandalism, sent out to Arizona to get put back on the straight and narrow. (They're played by the [[ Dead End Kids]].)
21* DiabolusExMachina: Just to make sure there's no way Johnnie can prove his innocence, Doc and Goldie are killed in a car wreck shortly after the murder.
22* ExtraExtraReadAllAboutIt: News that Johnnie is wanted for murder hits the newspapers within hours.
23* {{Foreshadowing}}: "You'd take my watch, my roll, and my girl if you thought you could get away with it," says Johnnie to Doc. That's exactly what Doc does.
24* GrievousBottleyHarm: Averted. Doc crashes a bottle over Charlie the reporter's head, and it kills him.
25* HaveAGayOldTime: The investigation into the death of the reporter is called a "murder quiz".
26* IAmNotLeftHanded: Johnnie, who is left-handed, is fighting righty, and taking a beatdown. Finally Phelan tells him not to bother, Phelan knows who he is anyway. Johnnie then switches hands and gives a better accounting of himself.
27* LaserGuidedKarma: Doc drives his car into a tree and it bursts into dramatic flames.
28* LetOffByTheDetective: After seeing how much of a difference he's made and seeing how much the kids and his girlfriend love him, Phelan lets Johnnie go. Particularly generous in this example as it means Phelan will go back to New York empty-handed and suffer embarrassment in front of his colleagues, and will be stuck in the morgue.
29* TheMagicPokerEquation: The delinquents rope a spoiled rich kid into a game of poker. The rich kid, who knows nothing about poker, draws a straight. When they trick him into thinking a straight is a bad hand, he draws four more cards, and draws a straight flush.
30* NotEvenBotheringWithTheAccent: Claude Rains as usual, speaking in his mellifluous London accent, playing a cynical New York cop. Apparently Rains felt he was miscast and Warner Brothers had to threaten him with a suspension to get him to play the part.
31* OffIntoTheDistanceEnding: Two, as Phelan's train chugs away while Johnnie walks off with one of the delinquents.
32* ReassignedToAntarctica: Phelan has been stuck on morgue duty, after it turns out a guy he arrested who was eventually executed turns out to be innocent.
33* SavingTheOrphanage: The kids of the Rafferty farm have an idea to start a gas station on the farm, which will provide enough cash to keep the farm afloat. But they need seed money to build the gas pump, which is where Johnnie's boxing skills come in.
34* TravelMontage: A short one traces Johnnie's route from New York to Arizona, staying in flophouses, as a line appears on a map.