They Made Me a Fugitive (1947)

Genres - Drama  |   Sub-Genres - Crime Drama, Film Noir  |   Run Time - 103 min.  |   Countries - UK  |  
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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.

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Keywords

pilot, Royal-Air-Force, criminal, black-market, thug, frame-up, on-the-run, police, witness, name-clearing