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They Made Me A Fugitive [DVD]

Trevor Howard , Sally Gray , Alberto Cavalcanti    Parental Guidance   DVD
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
Price: £9.70 & FREE Delivery in the UK on orders over £10. Details
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Product details

  • Actors: Trevor Howard, Sally Gray, Griffith Jones, René Ray, Mary Merrall
  • Directors: Alberto Cavalcanti
  • Writers: Jackson Budd, Noel Langley
  • Format: Dolby, PAL
  • Region: All Regions
  • Aspect Ratio: 4:3 - 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Classification: PG
  • Studio: Odeon Entertainment
  • DVD Release Date: 26 May 2008
  • Run Time: 99 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0015A12TC
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 27,250 in DVD & Blu-ray (See Top 100 in DVD & Blu-ray)


Product Description

A superb gritty film noir in which a bored and cynical ex-RAF flyer Clem Morgan (Trevor Howard) joins a criminal gang led by Narcy (Griffith Jones). On his first job, the getaway car crashes after killing a policeman and Morgan is knocked unconscious and framed as the driver. He is sent to jail but escapes and heads to London seeking revenge on the gang. In the midst of a massive police hunt he is sheltered by Sally (Sally Gray) who is an associate of Narcy. As the police close in, Morgan must prove his innocence as he confronts the gang in an abandoned warehouse.


Alberto Cavalcanti's THEY MADE ME A FUGITIVE is, to my tastes, the great British Gangster movie and a contender for great Film-Noir as well. At the time of release it was probably overshadowed by BRIGHTON ROCK and THE THIRD MAN, both similar in look and attitude, but what sets FUGITIVE apart is its uncompromisingly bleak realism and pessimistic amorality. Trevor Howard plays the part of a former R.A.F. pilot who is struggling to survive in the austere post-war era of rationing and comparative boredom of peacetime life.He offers his services to a Black Market racketeer, Narcy, a foppish but lethal character who deals in contraband under cover of his legitimate funeral business. Narcy and his gang are characters who just didn't appear in British films until GET CARTER came along.They are portrayed as the typical film 'cockney sparrows' of the time but with a difference-they carry flick-knives,knuckle-dusters and even guns.They listen in to the police on a huge radio set. At one point they are seen to knock out a British bobby.-you'd have to be born and raised in Britain in the forties or fifties to realise how what a shock that would have caused at the time of the film's release. --www.imdb.com

I borrowed the Kino Video release of this from my public library today. I'd never heard of it before and, having just watched it, I can say I'm really amazed this is not a famous movie in the United States. I'm not sure if it's very well-known in England or not. Like another landmark British movie, BLOW-UP, THEY MADE ME A FUGITIVE is directed by a foreigner. There is more attention to sound and camera-work than I've noticed in most British movies from the end of the war until about 1956 or so. Warner Brothers gets a huge credit at the start, and I'm wondering if that studio merely distributed it in the United States or if British audiences also saw "Warner Brothers" in huge letters on the screen. It has a lot in common with the Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall movies of the forties, and the screenwriter, Noel Langley, had worked in Hollywood on several movies, notably THE WIZARD OF OZ. So, it's British, but it has American and continental style. I mention Bogart. I should also mention Richard Widmark. Clem and Narcy easily could have been played by those two actors with no change in approach. There's a rooftop scene later echoed in TO CATCH A THIEF and the words "It's Later Than You Think" keep appearing, and I've seen at least two later movies which make use of that. It's scarier than the American gangster movies of the late forties. Also, the title begs comparison to the 1939 Warner Brothers picture THEY MADE ME A CRIMINAL and an early-thirties one called I AM A FUGITIVE FROM A CHAIN GANG. A typical American gangster movie from the thirties had a World War One vet who sells bootleg liquor during the Great Depression and THEY MADE ME A FUGITIVE makes the protagonist a World War Two vet dealing in rationed items such as cigarettes and liquor. There seems to have been a conscious effort, in the making of this movie, to capture the audience American gangster movies had had in Britain. Perhaps there was an effort to get an American audience, too. See it for good acting, wonderful production and, most importantly, unexpected realism. If it's clichéd, it's put together so well as to seem fresh almost sixty years after it was made. And seeing Peter Bull cheered --www.imdb.com

Fine cast, crackling dialogue, sure-handed direction, and some lovely camera work make 'They Made Me A Fugitive' a splendid viewing experience, but the film's ripping, breathless pacing most impressed me. From the outset I just felt immersed into a cesspool of criminal, through which the pacing just dunked me again and again, deeper and deeper into the depravity of the characters. The police seem to exist in another England - the one of "bright, sunlit uplands" - while the film shoves you and binds you amid hoodlums, spivs, black marketeers, and sadistic enforcers who inhabit a claustrophobic, treacherous underworld in which violence to body and soul lurks in every shadow. At the remove of six decades some of the dialogue and action seems clichéd (although - spoiler coming here - the sequence of the fall-from-power fate of the gang leader, Narcy, socked me in my gut: it's a clever, artful, uncompromising bit of camera work); but on the whole the film still punches and lands hard blows. And, oh boy, the one character, Narcy's chief muscle-enforcer, still chills me to the bone whenever, in deliberate or unbidden recall, he lurks in and lunges from the chiaroscuro brandishing his menacing, meaty bulk, punishment-keen fists, charmless, cold, piggish face, vicious, predatory eyes, and glinting knife blade. Gives me the creeps! See 'They Made Me A Fugitive' and be swept, panting, through ninety-six minutes that seem to be counted in thunderous heartbeats that, in the underworld of this tale, may - or may not - get to go on pounding behind the thin, warm, vulnerable flesh of your chest. This one's as good as noir ever got to be. --www.imdb.com

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Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
4.4 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars NO MORE MR NICE GUY 23 Dec 2008
From J Sheehan Chatham Kent

There was a lot of critical fuss over what was then considered excessive violence in this excellent.gritty,uncompromising post-war thriller. That nice,shy young man of BRIEF ENCOUNTER & WAY TO THE STARS had suddenly turned sour,bitter and tough as that endemic character an escaped con "sold up the river" hell-bent on revenge on the black-market gang and particularly its homo leader that caused such grief.
The final confrontation had only been seen before in WATERLOO ROAD between John Mills & ex-boxer war service shirker,Stewart Granger and spared few punches along the rooftop,the dark and studio rain-soaked streets. The characters were of the time - the ex RAF officer v the detested cowardly,narcotics trading spiv show-off. It's all action & precious little love lost here. A close relation to BRIGHTON ROCK and true to Warner's pre 39 Cagney/Bogart style. Sulky beauty of many a British crime blaster/ DANGEROUS MOONLIGHT, Sally Gray,showgirl,does get badly beaten up & Howard does get conned into killing a total stranger - a "bargain" by a sleazy creature who assists him on the lam.
Think of IT ALWAYS RAINS ON SUNDAY with John McCallum on the run seeking refuge with his real wife Googie Withers. Also "THEY DRIVE BY NIGHT" also from prewar Warners-British at Teddington(not to be confused with the later US/Bogart/Raft drama) another excellent murder thriller with Emlyn Williams as an innocent trucker on the run seeking the weirdo Ernest Thesiger as an homicidal,silk-stocking strangler in a dark & seedy London....
Tragically,this Teddington studio suffered its share of destruction during WW11 with consequent losses to a lot of its stock. THEY MADE ME..
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
This is a fine example of the gritty gangster movies Britain produced in the late Forties and early Fifties. We're talking wet cobblestone streets at night in Soho, brutal black marketeers who don't mind beating a woman with a studded belt, betrayal and revenge. Note that elements of the plot are discussed.

Clem Morgan (Trevor Howard), a bored ex-RAF man, is recruited by a friend, Narcy (Griffith Jones), to join his gang of black marketeers. Narcy deals in everything from whiskey to cigarettes, using his funeral business, The Valhalla of Undertaking, as a front. Narcy runs the show. He doesn't like opposition, he doesn't mind force, he has a mean streak, he enjoys a bit of cruelty. When Narcy moves to drugs, Clem says he wants out. Narcy says, "Sure," and arranges a frame-up that sends Clem to Dartmoor for 15 years on a manslaughter rap for the death of a bobby. When Clem realizes Narcy had framed him, he escapes from a work gang and heads for London and a showdown. As he says, "When a bloke gets put away for 15 years he doesn't curl up with a good book. He gets bitter. He gets a pain in his guts. He wants to lay his hands on the double-crossing swine who put him in."

Clem's only ally is a former girl friend of Narcy's, Sally (Sally Gray), and gradually the two of them become close. Clem's purpose now is not just to get his own back at Narcy, but to get Narcy to confess that he was innocent of any crime. And the police? They're close on Clem's trail. They may think Narcy was behind things, but there is no evidence that would clear Clem.

The end of the movie is bleak. Narcy is dead, but justice hasn't triumphed. With his dying words Narcy continues to implicate Clem. The detective superintendent takes Clem's arm and moves him away from Narcy's body.
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14 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great London gangster/thriller/noir 12 Aug 2008
Well, what have we got here?

We've got a 1946/7 London - rainy, smog- and fog-ridden - swarming with sweaty, sadistic small-time black marketeers, hag-faced toothless harridan prostitutes, rat faced squealers, slimy grasses, heart-of-gold cashmere-wearing Judys, squalid, smoky dockside boozers, and bobbies in mackintoshes and capes (told you it was raining) getting run over and bashed over the coconut.

Enter ex-RAF Clem Morgan (Trevor Howard). He wants a bit of action with a gang led by sharp, smoothie, sadistic, snooker-playing knuckle-duster wielding Narcy (Narcissus)(Griffith Jones) - but he baulks at their drug (sherbert!) dealing side. So he's framed into a cop murder - very heavy stuff in immediate post-war England. But this isn't The Blue Lamp - it's nearer Jules Dassin's famous Night and the City and precedes both.

As well as a crackling script by Noel Langley we've got a runaway fugitive we know is innocent, more bobbies, more rain, and a head-butting, knife-throwing, rooftop-climbing finale.

A great British noir sadly often overlooked. See it!
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars excellent surreal crime thriller 13 Oct 2008
By George
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
Not many films coming out of Britain in the late 40s portrayed English life as corrupt, seedy and excessively violent. If you have never seen this film, it is a real eye-opener. Visually, it is almost surreal--closer to German expressionism than to film noir. And the final fight between the anti-hero (Trevor Howard) and the thoroughly nasty crime boss (how many films would have a villian called "Narcissus"?) on top of the undertaker's office is a climax Hitchcock would be proud of.

Violence, corruption and flashes of creepy black humour. Fabulous!
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