( Gabriel Dell, Huntz Hall, Billy Halop, Bernard Punsly, Bobby Jordan & Leo Gorcey)
The Dead End Kids were something else. They had that ability- not even given to some Oscar Winners or celebrated "stars" throughout cinema history- of being able to lift the films they appeared in, to make the productions even better for their presence. Although Dead End marked their debut as an ensemble, and Angels With Dirty Faces is their best known film together, the other five movies are less familiar. One of these, They Made Me A Criminal was made in 1939- and involves the cream of Hollywood talent, making its relative obscurity even more surprising. Not content with being directed by the maestro of the musical Busby Berkeley, the film was shot by ten time Oscar nominee James Wong Howe (he did actually win twice). The music by Max Steiner sets a suitable backdrop to the detailed yet comprehendable plot which also stars John Garfield, Claude Rains, Ann Southern, May Robson- and even features minor roles for character actors like Ward Bond and Arthur Housman. In common with all but Dead End, the film was made and distributed under the auspices of Warner Brothers , making it all the remarkable (and lamentable) that DVD releases have been limited to public domain ones. They Made Me A Criminal packs more into its 92 minute running time than most movies twice its length, and, though setting up the plot proper seems a little rushed, the Dead End Kids' appearance settles things down. Like their other more celebrated films, They Made Me A Criminal contains almost every conceivable emotion from drama to pathos, and (perhaps more importantly) the film is utterly unpredictable. It also has important lessons to teach us all in how to be human, and it is this, above all, which makes it worthy of remastering and issuing on DVD as part of a proper box set of Dead End Kids titles to acknowledge their unique place in Hollywood history.
Harrison 2008-2016 and must not be reproduced in any way without prior
with the author.