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THEY MADE ME A KILLER (director: William C. Thomas; screenwriters: from a story by Owen Franes/Daniel Mainwaring; cinematographer: Fred Jackman Jr.; editor: Henry Adams; music: Alexander Laszlo; cast: Robert Lowery (Tom Durling), Barbara Britton (June Reynolds), Lola Lane (Betty Ford), Frank Albertson (Al Wilson, Glen Grove patrolman), Elisabeth Risdon (‘Ma’ Conley), Byron Barr (Steve Reynolds), James Bush (Frank Conley), Ralph Sanford (Roach, Glen Grove patrolman), Paul Harvey (Dist. Atty. Booth), John Harmon (Joe Lafferty, cafe owner), Edmund MacDonald (Jack Conley aka Chance); Runtime: 64; MPAA Rating: NR; producers: William H. Pine/William C. Thomas; Alpha Video; 1946)
“Pleasing low-budget film noir.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

William C. Thomas (“Big Town”/”Big Town After Dark”/”Special Agent”) directs this pleasing low-budget film noir that’s scripted by Geoffrey Homes (aka Daniel Mainwaring) from a story by Owen Franes.

Tom Durling (Robert Lowery), a handy auto mechanic from Chicago, is haunted by the accidental death of his kid brother and leaves for a new life in California. Having run out of money he tries selling his souped-up car to the fast-talking Betty (Lola Lane), a stranger he meets outside a used-car lot. She tells him that she wants her boyfriend Jack (Edmund MacDonald ) to see it, but it turns out they’re not interested in buying the car and instead use him as a patsy to drive the getaway car as they pull off a bank heist with Jack’s brother Frank (James Bush). During the robbery of $100,000, the gang kills a police officer in addition to critically wounding a bank guard and a bank clerk named Steve Reynolds (Byron Barr). Tom fails in thwarting the escape and is found unconscious at the wheel of the crashed getaway car with the murder weapon in his hand. The gruff DA (Paul Harvey) arrests him and charges the innocent guy with murder, refusing to believe he was made at gunpoint to participate. Tom’s only alibi is Steve, who was the sole witness but who dies before he can talk. The DA thinks it was an inside job and that Steve was part of the gang. This results in Steve’s sister June Reynolds (Barbara Britton) getting fired from her substitute teacher’s job. When Tom escapes from police custody in the hospital, he accidentally runs into June and convinces the skeptical woman that they should work together to get the gang and thereby clear both his and her brother’s reputations. Through a lucky break they track down the gang hiding out in a highway diner owned by the mother of Betty’s boyfriend. Though stuck in a dangerous situation when confronting the gang the dynamic duo are nevertheless able to alert two state police officers, regulars at the diner, to help in the nick of time.

Though hardly convincing and the acting was strident, this rarely done crime thriller from Paramount producers of B films, Pine-Thomas, is nevertheless watchable and doesn’t overstay its welcome.


Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”