They Made Me a Fugitive
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Alberto Cavalcanti (Nicholas Nickleby, Dead of Night), one of the key figures in French and British cinema for several decades, turns his sights on the London underworld in the engrossing BritNoir gangland drama They Made Me a Fugitive. Set in the unsettled postwar England where crime is on the upsurge, Fugitive is a suspenseful genre film which uses the picturesque Soho district as background to brilliant effect. The brooding and atmospheric cinematography of cameraman Otto Heller (Alfie, Funeral in Berlin) is in the noir visual tradition, while the film's authenticity is due to the director's command of documentary technique,. The London pubs, alleys and back bedrooms turn into the poetry of urban realism. Also evident is Cavalcanti's deep understanding of the troubled characters, well drawn in the script by noted playwright Noel Langley, the screenwriter of The Wizard of OZ. Trevor Howard (Brief Encounter, The Third Man) gives one of his greatest performances as Clem, an ex-serviceman who is fed up after the War and drawn to the excitement of black-marketeering. His psychopathic sadistic gang boss, Narcy (Griffith Jones), betrays him when he refuses to deal in drugs, and the story becomes a breathtaking tale of revenge. The complex ending of They Made Me a Fugitive
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If you buy this be prepared to send it back if you can't understand it due to ruined sound.
ODD MAN OUT ~ James Mason, Robert Newton, Kathleen Ryan, and Cyril Cusack (NTSC ALL REGION IMPORT)
The sorid nasty story met with serious censorship problems, but director Calvalcanti was able to make the film largely as he wanted. The result: scenes of brutality never before seen in British film, including a hulking mobster beating a defenseless woman why other gang members casually sit by afew feet away, playing cards. When the film was released in America, as "I Became a Criminal", nearly twenty minutes were cut - rather astonishing when at the same time American film noir was depicting equally repellent, violent, and sadistic images. The leading men act against their career types; elegant Griffith Jones turns out a superb performance as a vindictive mobster who constantly obsesses with his own discomfort with incivility, while the sensitive Trevor Howard of such earlier films as Brief Encounter, stuns as a emotionally contorted and intensely bitter fugitive struggling with moral ambiquities far beyond the romantic. Leading lady Sally Gray is a striking blonde, she has some of the haunting beauty of Gene Tierney, and together with her counterpart, the endearing Rene Ray, gives the film a solid pairing of sympathetic actresses.
Perhaps most intriquing is the film's black wit, which runs like a leit-motif in scene after scene. Opening at a funeral parlor named the Valhalla Morturary, its roof capped with ten foot letters, R. I. P., the desparate story of revenge and pursuit has endless sharp dark quips on death, many by veteran actress Mary Merrall, playing the old matriarch of the gang.
A great surprise, and a must see for all Trevor Howard fans!
Directed by Alberto Cavalcanti, the film is a veritable textbook of movie direction and editing. Otto Heller provides some wonderful cinematographic work on Andrew Mazzei's superb art directed sets. The best images emerge in the last third of the picture, just as the plot and character development gel too. Few films will remind you more of Alfred Hitchcock's best British output.
The simple plot involves ex-RAF flyer Clem Morgan (an early role for Trevor Howard), who unwisely hooks up with a gang, running booze and cigarettes. The gang is led by Narcy (Griffith Jones), who might remind you of a slimmer version of Dillinger, as played by Lawrence Tierney in 1945. Clem and Narcy have a falling out, and Clem is framed for murder. But Clem escapes and begins his hunt for Narcy.
Supported by some very good character actors and a fine Noel Langley script; this film is not only one of the most beautifully shot noirs, it is also a 'slow burner' that delivers. But be warned; THEY MADE ME A FUGITIVE set a new standard for noir violence, especially depictions of it against women.
A British film starring Trevor Howard as Clem, an ex-RAF officer in post-war London who has fallen on hard times. He gets involved with a gang of "black marketeers", run by a vicious little thug named Narcy(Griffith Jones). When Narcy decides to add drug peddling to the gang's roster of illegal activities, Clem wants nothing to do with it. Narcy then frames Clem for the murder of a policeman. Clem is sent to prison, escapes, and the bulk of the film is taken up with his attempts to find Narcy and extract revenge. This is a fast-paced, rather "hard-hitting"(given when it was made) little film noir. There is no "pat" happy ending---Clem's fate, and future, is quite unclear by the time the final credits roll. An interesting, and worthwhile, little film---IMO. One caveat: the film is, at times, hard for an American to follow, given all the British accents and the slang/idiomatic dialogue employed. Sebastian Cabot and Peter Bull make brief appearances in the film.