They Made Me a Fugitive [DVD] [1947]

Alberto Cavalcanti's They Made Me A Fugitive (1947) has been released by Kino International in what has to be its best looking incarnation in several decades. A production of Warner Bros.' British unit, the movie has been preserved as part of England's National Film Archive and transferred from an extremely sharp, bright source. There are some blemishes and signs of wear, as well as a single shot that looks solarized, but the video master has captured Otto Heller's brooding cinematography of the setting in Soho's sleazy shops, taverns, and back alleys. Even the night shots reveal useful picture information, and the clarity allows one to fully appreciate the care with which every shot of this drama was devised, down to the most seemingly insignificant edit. This is a movie that operates on several levels, as an intense story of betrayal and revenge, and also an extremely clever visual tour-de-force by Heller and Cavalcanti; some of those shots, such as the meeting between Clem(Trevor Howard) and Sally (Sally Gray) at the prison, are constructed so cleverly, that they will quietly dazzle the viewer; others, such as the scene in which Narcy (Griffith Jones) beats up Sally, are a little too arty for their own good. But that particular sequence is so brief as to be forgivable. The clarity also allows one to appreciate fully the startling physical transformation that Trevor Howard evidently underwent for this role -- he looks as though he starved himself for at least a week to get into convincing shape as a convict on the run; coupled with what could be the best acting performance of his whole career, all of it seen in optimum condition on these film materials, this is a DVD that offers multiple (indeed, compound) rewards. The sound has been mastered at a very healthy volume which audiences will doubly appreciate, given the amount of very quiet dialogue and thickly accented British English used throughout. There's a momentary flaw in the visual transfer at around 71 minutes, but it lasts for a fraction of a second. The 96 minute movie has been given 16 chapters that are well chosen and nicely outline the key points in the plot -- there are no bonus materials, but the movie makes a full disc on its own. The annotation is reasonably thorough, though it does rather undersell the film -- along with Cavalcanti's documentary-style, neo-realist approach to the story are some visual set pieces that would have been worthy of the work of Powell and Pressburger.
$17.99
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Overview

Synopsis

They Made Me a Fugitive
Clem Morgan (Trevor Howard), an embittered ex-RAF pilot, mistakenly believes the life of crime is for him in this exceptionally dark British film noir, directed by Alberto Cavalcanti. He joins a gang of black marketeers led by the aptly named Narcey (short for Narcissus) (Griffith Jones), an egotistical and sadistic thug. The two develop an almost immediate mutual dislike, leading Narcey to frame Morgan for killing a policeman. While serving the resulting 15-year sentence, Morgan is visited by Narcey's sometime girlfriend Sally (Sally Gray), who tells him that the thug has taken up with the prisoner's fiancée, and that a witness to the frame might come forward. This triggers an even more bitter Morgan to escape and return to London to try to clear and avenge himself. Many postwar American films noirs dealt with alienated but law-abiding veterans, some of them framed for crimes they did not commit, e.g. Alan Ladd's Johnny Morrison in The Blue Dahlia. This British effort goes a noteworthy step further by placing the protagonist in the criminal underworld. Its downbeat ending is consistent with its unrelenting cynicism. ~ Steve Press, Rovi

Cast & Crew

  • Sally Gray
    Sally Gray - Sally
  • Trevor Howard
    Trevor Howard - Clem Morgan
  • Image coming soon
    Renee Ray - Cora
  • Mary Merrall
    Mary Merrall - Aggie
  • Vida Hope
    Vida Hope - Mrs. Fenshawe
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