They Made Me a Fugitive
They Made Me a Fugitive – 1947 | 103mins | Thriller, Crime | B&W
The scenario for British this film noir, They Made Me a Fugitive was based on Jackson Budd’s novel A Convict has Escaped, Alberto Cavalcanti and scriptwriter Noel Langley retain only the central premise of a convict on the run for a crime he did not commit. Made for Nat Bransten’s Alliance Company – the offspring of a short-lived alliance between RKO and the Rank Organisation – at the small Riverside studio at Hammersmith, They Made Me a Fugitive successfully combines the urgency and atmosphere of a Warner Brothers ‘off the front page and on to the screen’ drama with the black humour and quirky characterisation of Hitchcock’s 30s thrillers.
The film concerns the attempt by a young South African serviceman, on the run from Dartmoor, to piece together the details of a crime he can only dimly remember but of which he is convinced he is innocent. With the help of a young prostitute and a sympathetic Scotland Yard detective, he succeeds in clearing his name. Clem Morgan (Trevor Howard), a drunken ex-RAF officer who misses the excitement of war and is persuaded to join a black market gang run by a friendly superspiv Narcissus (Griffith Jones). They operate from the Valhalla funeral parlour, dispatching and receiving coffins laden with cigarettes, whisky, nylons and – to Clem’s alarm – drugs. Distrustful of this ‘amateur’, Narcy successfully frames him for killing a policeman and steals his girl. Sentenced to fifteen years in Dartmoor, Clem is goaded by Narcy’s rejected girlfriend (Sally Gray) into escaping, Clem breaks out and heads for London’s Soho district to seek revenge on Narcy. In a melodramatic shoot-out in the funeral parlour, Clem manages to kill Narcy, who with his dying words swears to the police that Clem is guilty of the crime for which he has been framed.
Alberto Cavalcanti: Director
Andrew Mazzei: Art Direction
Otto Heller: Cinematographer
Margery Saunders: Film Editing
John Hollingsworth: Musical Director
Marius-François Gaillard: Original Music
Nat A Bronstein: Producer
James A Carter: Producer
Noel Langley: Script