In 1947, the British film noir "They Made Me a Fugitive (also known as "I Became a Criminal" was released in theaters.
Based on the novel written "A Convicted Has Escaped" by Jackson Budd, the film would be directed by Alberto Cavalcanti (best known for "Dead of Night", "Went the Day Well?" and "Song of the Sea"), a screenplay by Noel Langley ("The Wizard of Oz", "A Christmas Carol", "Ivanhoe") and cinematography by Otto Heller ("The Ladykillers", "Alfie", "Peeping Tom").
The film would star Trevor Howard ("Brief Encounter", "The Third Man", "Gandhi", "Superman"), Sally Grace ("The Hidden Room", "The Saint in London", "Suicide Squadron"), Griffith Jones ("Henry V", "The Comedy of Errors", "Kill Her Gently") and Rene Ray ("Jennifer Hale", "The Passing of Third Floor Back" and "Twilight Women").
The film was released on Blu-ray in July 2012 courtesy of Kino Lorber featuring a restoration by the BFI National Archive with funding provided by The Film Foundation.
"They Made Me a Fugitive" is presented in 1080p High Definition (1:33:1 aspect ratio) and black and white. The film was restored by the BFI National Archive.
The film looks very good on Blu-ray considering its age. No major flickering problems, no blurring during the video, no warping or any problems. The picture quality is quite clean and looks like the original negative source for the film was in very good shape.
The Blu-ray release of "The Made Me a Fugitive" is definitely a better upgrade over its older Kino DVD counterpart. Better clarity and detail, owners of the previous DVD will definitely feel it is worth upgrading to Blu-ray!
AUDIO & SUBTITLES:
"They Made Me a Fugitive" is presented in LPCM Monaural 2.0. Dialogue is clear, I didn't hear any large pops or any major crackling during my viewing of the film. Nor did I hear any major audio problems throughout the film.
"They Made Me a Fugitive" comes with no special features.
"They Made Me a Fugitive" is a very enjoyable film showcasing British film noir. While America, had so many gangster and noir films released at the time, Alberto Cavalcanti did a splendid job in with the direction of film and making people feel sympathy for its main character, played by actor, Trevor Howard.
Howard, best known for his role in "Brief Encounter" and "The Third Man" is rather excellent in playing the wanted man, George Clement "Clem" Morgan, who just wants to get the gangster who framed him, to confess that he didn't kill a constable.
And for a 1947 film, the film was a suspenseful thriller because the film would how people feared the escape of the character Clem. And the pacing of the film of showing the dangers he experiences on the run, from being shot at by a property owner, a woman wanting him to kill her husband, to hitchhiking and the driver already suspecting him.
But as Clem is a man who got pulled into criminal activity, he is still a moral man and the audience feels sympathy for him.
On the other side, you have Griffith Jones playing the psychopath Narcy. Narcy is head honcho and dislikes anyone challenging his authority. The film shows a disturbing scene of Narcy beating up his ex-girlfriend rather badly, and you also see this arrogant man stealing Clem's girlfriend after framing him. Cavalcanti does a great job in making sure that the audience despises him.
Rene Ray does a good job of playing the only person who is willing to help Clem, a banal character, but yet a major person who believes in Clem and wanting to assist him in getting his freedom back.
But this is a gloomy film with an ending that audiences probably never expected. And one of the most entertaining aspects of "They Made Me a Fugitive" is its unexpected characters. From the man who picks up Clem in the truck, the weird woman who lets Clem into her home, the film is dark in nature but a perfect example of British film noir that is very much different from its American counterpart.
Society in the UK post-war was not filled with jubilation, Clem, a man respected for his work in the Royal Air Force is a man who fought for his country, was a P.O.W. and had his share of near-death encounters with the Nazi military. But the calm life after war has made him wanting a thrill and thus, getting involved in Narcy in a life of a crime.
While the film is entertaining British film noir, it's also a 1947 film that has its fair share of banal characters and acting that is not so great. As a person who is used to watching cliche elements utilized in earlier Hollywood films, let alone other countries who were inspired by American films, some viewers today may feel that it's too cliche, the acting for some characters, too stiff. But that's how things were then and if you put yourself in the shoes of a person watching this film in 1947, I probably would feel that this film was riveting but also being entertained by the various twist and turns and an ending which I wouldn't have expected.
As for the Blu-ray, while a barebones release, for those wanting more film noir on Blu-ray, will surely enjoy this upgraded restored transfer of "They Made Me a Fugitive" in HD. The film is definitely an improvement over its previous, older Kino DVD release. I just wish there were special features included.
Overall, "They Made Me a Fugitive" is suspenseful thriller with many unexpected moments. Featuring a wonderful performance by actor Trevor Howard and an entertaining British film noir!