1939’s They Made Me a Criminal is a surprisingly gritty crime drama from the most likeliest of directors, Busby Berkeley, best known for his lavish kaleidoscopic musical dance sequences. Here, John Garfield (The Postman Always Rings Twice) plays Johnnie, a palooka from the Big Apple who gets mixed up in a murder, becoming the prime suspect and needing to prove his innocence before time runs out. Johnnie takes refuge within a camp run by The Dead End Kids (one of the few film appearance by the gang not played for laughs). The film also features screen legend Claude Rains (The Invisible Man, Casablanca and Lawrence of Arabia) as the detective out to find Johnnie at any cost.
1942’s Lady Gangster was directed by Robert Florey, whose credits include the Marx Brothers’ The Cocoanuts, and includes a co-starring role for Jackie Gleason, yet this is no comedy. A would-be actress, Dorothy Burton (Faye Emerson), finds herself in the wrong place at the wrong time, getting blamed for a $40,000 bank heist and finding herself doing a bit in the cooler. Can this dish crab the trouble boys before she does the big sleep?
This double-feature DVD of They Made Me A Criminal and Lady Gangster also includes bonus episodes of the classic serials Flash Gordon Conquerers The World and Radar Men From The Moon.