The Post War Fugitive
Following the war, former serviceman Clem (Trevor Howard) has fallen in with a bad crowd of criminals lead by Narcy (Griffith Jones) who runs his smuggling operations out of a funeral parlour. When Clem learns that Narcy is having them smuggle drugs he wants out but with what he knows it's not that easy and Narcy stitches him up by framing him for the murder of a policeman. Sent down for the crime Clem eventually escapes from prison and wants his old life back except he discovers Narcy has taken his girl leading Clem to hook up with Sally (Sally Gray) Narcy's ex.
The simple truth is that "They Made Me a Fugitive" is a movie for those with a real interest in old movies and those who have an interest in how things were. For those who now stumble across this post war drama starring Sally Gray and Trevor Howard hoping to be entertained there is a good chance they will finish it not so much bored but not so impressed as others are.
Let me put this in to context and firstly it has to be said that "They Made Me a Fugitive" has some entertaining cinematography with shots which really show of various locations as stunning backdrops, be it the inside of a prison or on a busy farm. It makes it a movie that those who appreciate the visual style of a movie although now can come across as cliche in its look. It is the same when it comes to the actual characters as we have some rough and dangerous criminals the sort of which rarely cropped up in movies of this age. There is even a scene featuring a woman shooting her husband and setting up Clem for the crime. Basically from a movie historian's viewpoint "They Made Me a Fugitive" has a lot of interesting elements which make it stand out from the crowd.
But then there is the social history side as we have Clem a man who we discover fought for his country but then following the war has become despondent with the way the country is with continued rationing. As such it makes a statement that these smugglers whilst bringing in contraband goods are just making up for shortages during rationing. But then for Clem when he discovers the drugs it is unacceptable to him as it is not supplying what is needed but a real crime. It is this sort of thing and there are other elements which when watched now can be missed as it is hard to put yourself in the context of the era to judge this movie.
As such as I said if you just watched for entertainment "They Made Me a Fugitive" may not work although Trevor Howard's performance as a criminal will grab your attention and those moments of action, such as a scene in a remote house where a woman shows him kindness in return for a favour will keep you entertained.
What this all boils down to is that "They Made Me a Fugitive" is in fact a very smart movie which when watched with awareness of when it was made really comes alive both visually and historically. But unfortunately when watched as just another movie the elements which make it fascinating can be lost in the mix.