|DUST BE MY DESTINY (director: Lewis Seiler; screenwriters: Robert Rossen/novel by Jerome Odlum; cinematographer: James Wong Howe; editor: Warren Low; music: Max Steiner; cast:John Garfield (Joe Bell), Priscilla Lane (Mabel Alden), Alan Hale (Mike Leonard), Frank McHugh (Caruthers), Billy Halop (Hank), Bobby Jordan (Jimmy), Charley Grapewin (Pop), Henry Armetta (Nick), Stanley Ridges (Charlie), John Litel (Prosecutor), Moroni Olsen (Slim Jones), Victor Kilian (Doc Saunders), William Davidson (Warden); Runtime: 88; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Louis F. Edelman; WB; 1939)|
script greatly benefits from the star power of
John Garfield, who plays the perfect role for
him--an alienated, wise guy drifter."
by Dennis Schwartz
Warner Brothers standard programmer social justice
pic, adapted from Jerome Odlum's novel and
written by Robert Rossen. The trite script
greatly benefits from the star power of John Garfield,
who plays the perfect role for him--an alienated, wise
guy drifter. Lewis Seiler ("Charlie Chan in
Paris"/"the Smiling Ghost"/"Guadalcanal Diary")
directs with expediency.
embittered and cynical young adult Joe Bell (John
Garfield) gets pardoned from prison after serving
sixteen months for a burglary he didn't commit. Riding
the trains as a tramp he's brought to court as a
vagrant and sentenced to labor at the Rosedale Country
Work Farm. Joe's foreman is the screwy cruel drunk
Charlie (Stanley Ridges), who
assigns him to the rock pile when he spots Joe with
his pretty stepdaughter Mabel (Priscilla
Lane). She feels sorry for him and goes to
the superintendent, who transfers him to a soft job.
The two fall in love, but Charlie goes ape when he
sees them together and gets into fight with Joe. The
couple flee the work farm and get married, and then
they learn Charlie died and Joe is wanted for his
murder. A manhunt ensues, as no one takes into account
the prison boss died from a weak heart. The
downhearted and untrusting Joe receives aid from good
guy newspaper editor Mike Leonard (Alan
Hale) and after some far-fetched heroics
of Joe with ruthless bank robbers, everything turns
The routine pic is hardly interesting but catching Garfield, as the fiery innocent in action when in a jam, outweighs yawning at the pic's moralistic theme of a life on the run is no life at all and that it's best to trust that the justice system will eventually work for even the lowest member of society.
REVIEWED ON 3/28/2014 GRADE: B-
Dennis Schwartz: "Ozus' World Movie Reviews"
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