Tuesday, August 4, 2015

They Made me a Fugitive (AKA I Became a Criminal) (1947) Brit Noir Masterpiece

(originally SLWB -  March 08, 2012 revised 10/28/2017)

WOW!!!, I would almost call this the best UK Best Noir, but I'd have to watch Night and the City again, and then of course there are probably many others that are off our noirdar screens here in the U.S. Films never watched. Anyway this has two titles not to be confused with the Garfield flick of the same name. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0039895/

This is Visual Art Noir, the team of Brazilian born Cavalcanti and the Czech CinematographeOtto Heller,and the French born Set Designer Andrew Mazzei produced an excellent Looking British Noir on par with the pairings of Siodmak and Franz Planer, Anthony Mann and John Alton, Richard Fleischer and George E. Diskant. The film was written by Noel Langley, based on the novel by Jackson Budd. 

The film stars Sally Gray (The Hidden Room (1949)), Trevor Howard (The Third Man (1949)Von Ryan's Express (1965)), and Griffith Jones (The Scarlet Web (1954)).Rene Ray as Cora, Mary Merrall as Aggie, Ballard Berkeley as Inspector Rockliffe, Charles Farrell as Curley, Michael Brennan as Jim, Jack McNaughton as Soapy, Cyril Smith as Bert, John Penrose as Shawney, Eve Ashley as Ellen and
Vida Hope as Mrs. Fenshaw 

Ex RAF fighter pilot Morgan (Howard) is bored with civilian life. He's still trying to wind down he's at a club with Ellen  (Ashley). When Morgan is out with his gal Looks up an old pre-war buddy Narcissus "Narcy" (Jones) a slimey grifter.  Jones will remind you a the Brit version of Dan Duryea. 

The Valhalla Undertakers R.I.P.

The London Gang in their funeral parlor HQ

Aggie (Mary Merrall) 

Narcy's latest scam is a fake undertaking business. He transports contraband instead of corpses. 

Morgan (Howard)

Narcy (Jones) the Crime boss

Ellen (Eve Ashley)

Sally (Sally Gray)

Cora (René Ray)
Morgan at first agrees to to the smuggling until he finds out that Narcy is also dealing in narcotics. When he braces Narcy about it and tells him he's out. Narcy reminded him of the coin toss where he agreed to work with Narcy's crew of goons. So Morgan agrees to do one last job. It's a breakin but during the getaway Morgan, the wheel man, runs over a copper with the help of Narcy, who grabbed the wheel steering the getaway car into the officer.  The car continues out of control slamming into a lightpole. The rest of the gang scram leaving the unconscious Morgan to take the rap. 

Morgan is sent to the slammer, but after a visit from Narcy's ex gal pal, Morgan finds out that his squeeze is now playing hide the sausage with Narcy.

While out on a work gang Morgan slips off in the fog it's almost a white out. These shots will remind viewers of similar snow landscape sequences in the Cohen Brothers Neo Noir Fargo. Along the long trek back to London, Morgan is shown dealing with various "on the run" situations one of which is receiving the help of a woman who as Morgan puts it is "around the bend," she gives him food clothes and a gun the latter with one condition, that he will put a hole through the head of habitually drunk hubby. Morgan refuses  and when he skips out, the woman  fills her spouse full of holes. 

When Morgan gets to London it all goes Noirsville.



 Mrs. Fenshaw( Vida Hope)

This film is top notch, the acting is flawless, the addictive cinematography continuously interesting,  the final sequences are a maze of dark alleys waterfronts and railroad viaducts, nice job. Its always great to find a Noir off most peoples radar. The final denouement atop the funeral parlor below.

I'll be looking to pick this one up when I can 10/10

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