Another Poverty Row film noir resurfaces!
Dave | Tennessee United States | 11/19/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Tom Durling (Robert Lowery) leaves Chicago after the tragic death of his brother, and heads to California to begin a new life. Hoping to sell his car, he meets with Betty Ford (Lola Lane) right outside a bank to make a deal. Before he knows it, Betty and her boyfriend Jack Conley (Edmund MacDonald) have guns drawn and force Tom to drive them to safety after they rob a bank. Steve Reynolds, an innocent bystander and friend of Tom's, is shot and mortally wounded by the police, who incorrectly believe him to be an accomplice of the bank robbers. Tom crashes the car after finally escaping from the police, and Betty, Jack, and Jack's brother Frank (James Bush) leave Tom unconscious in the car after planting a gun in his hand.
When the police find the getaway car with Tom in it, they arrest him of course and refuse to listen to his story of how he was forced to drive the bank robbers to safety. When he realizes there's no hope for him with the police, Tom makes a daring escape and turns to the only one who's willing to help him, June Reynolds (Barbara Britton), the sister of Steve. Steve died before he could clear himself and Tom, so June does everything she can to clear them before the police find Tom. Tom and June find Jack Conley and his gang and they convince Jack to let them stay at his hideout. Tom finally gets the proof that he needs to clear himself, but escaping Jack's gang will prove to be much harder than finding it was! It's up to June to get help from the police before the gang of bank robbers can kill Tom.
This movie wasn't great, but it wasn't bad either. Much of the dialogue throughout the movie is badly dated, but you'll have fun laughing at the cheesy lines, as well as the awful fake driving scenes where Lowery constantly swings the steering wheel back and forth while the car continues to go straight (via rear projection screen, of course). Robert Lowery and Barbara Britton were wonderful together, and Edmund MacDonald played the ruthless villian to perfection as usual. MacDonald was a very underated actor who appeared in almost 50 movies before his death in 1951 from a cerebral hemorrhage. Film noir buffs should recognize his face from movies like "Detour," "Shoot to Kill," and "The Lady Confesses." Robert Lowery never really rose above B movies status and quietly faded into obscurity over time. Barbara Britton is best remembered today for her role as Pamela North on the entertaining "Mr. and Mrs. North" tv show during the early 1950's.
1946's "They Made Me a Killer" was directed by William C. Thomas for Paramount's B unit, Pine-Thomas, responsible for other low-budget films noirs like "Fear in the Night," "Manhandled," and "Hell's Island." Running at just 64 minutes long, it's a typical crime story so common in film noir, about an innocent man who's framed and then seeks revenge on the crooks who actually committed the crime. The Alpha dvd has a very dissapointing picture and sound quality. There's constant background "hiss" noise, tons of age related flaws with the image quality, and the picture shakes constantly throughout the film. Of course this is to be expected from most Alpha-released dvds, and we can only hope that a fully restored version will be available someday, perhaps from VCI Entertainment which at least tries to restore the films noirs they release on dvd. Overall, I recommend this dvd only for hardcore film noir fanatics like me who're very forgiving about poor picture/sound quality."