An exceptional, engrossing, way-too-obscure 1947 British noir, They Made Me a Fugitive features the kind of bold, expressionistic filmmaking that sears itself on your brain. Directed by the Brazil-born Alberto Cavalcanti and starring the great Trevor Howard — utterly world-weary to perfect effect — They Made Me a Fugitive is rife with the signs of moral ambivalence and societal decay in postwar London. Nearly every frame allows a feeling of dank disappointment to seep into your bones. That it also features a riveting story of corruption and betrayal in an underground smuggling ring is merely a bonus — the transfixing imagery ought to be enough to win any cinephile over.
Howard stars as George Clement Morgan — Clem for short — a former RAF pilot looking for some excitement now that the war is through. He gets hooked up with black market profiteer Narcy (Griffith Jones), who runs a smuggling ring of everything from booze to nylons. Clem’s up for the task, but he balks when the heroin enters the picture. Nonetheless, he takes the gig, but he finds himself on the bad side of Narcy, who frames him for a cop murder charge on a lark.
While in prison, Clem is visited by Sally (Sally Connor), one of Narcy’s former molls, and he’s instantly distrustful. But when Clem finds a way to break out, it’s Sally who becomes the only person he can rely on to keep him hidden from the sadistic Narcy. Cavalcanti piles tension upon tension as the film barrels toward its conclusion, with both the narrative and the visuals working in harmony to create an enormously impressive thriller.
The Blu-ray Disc
Working from a restoration by the British Film Institute funded by The Film Foundation, Kino’s 1080p high definition, 1.33:1 transfer is a solid, conscientious piece of work that allows for the film’s stunningly composed frames to feature healthy amounts of fine detail, strong clarity and an unwavering celluloid-like quality. The elements aren’t in perfect shape, which is most clearly evident in darker, shadowy scenes where detail can be obscured a bit. There’s also a bit of wear and tear to the print that pops up every now and again. The condition means the image often isn’t tack sharp, but Kino’s responsible approach ensures that it looks as film-like as possible throughout.
Audio is presented in an uncompressed monaural soundtrack that handles the front channel dialogue and music with nice balance and excellent clarity.
Nothing, save for a couple trailers for other Kino releases.
The Bottom Line
A top tier film noir from a filmmaker who doesn’t seem to possess the reputation he deserves, They Made Me a Fugitive is superb.