Dust Be My Destiny (1939): Crime Drama, Starring John Garfield and Priscilla Lane

John Garfield is well cast in Dust Be My Destiny, a crime melodrama, well produced by Hal B. Wallis and directed by Lewis Seiler.

Based on Jerome Odlum’s novel, the scenario, credited to Robert Rossen (who would become a major director on his own right), centers on an outsider, Joe Bell, an embittered guy who had spent 16 months in jail for a crime he did not do.

A fight with a crook results in forced farm work for 90 days.  His friendship with Mabel Alden (Priscilla Lane) displeases Charles Garreth (Stanley Ridges), her stepfather and the farm’s foreman. The two men fight, and Joe knocks Garreth out.

The young couple, now in panic, flee and get married, only to learn that Garreth has died and Joe is wanted for his murder.

Joe finally gets a break, when he takes pictures of a bank robbery, and uses them to get a job at a newspaper run by Mike Leonard (Alan Hale). When the gang’s leader tries to get the negatives, Joe saves Mike’s life.

Unfortunately, his photo is placed on the front page of newspapers as a result. Mabel turns him in to the police, fearing he might be running away again.

At the trial, despite witnesses in Joe’s favor, the prosecutor (John Litel) is harsh, but defense attorney Slim Jones (Moroni Olsen) calls Mabel to the stand, and she persuades the jury that her husband is innocent.

Running time: 88 Minutes

Release date: September 16, 1939

End Note:

I am grateful to TCM for showing this rarely seen Garfield picture on January 9, 2019.