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Born to Kill
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The story starts in Reno, Nevada where Helen Brent (Claire Trevor) receives a divorce. She goes home to a boarding house and overhears a young woman named Laury discussing her love life with an older, drunken woman named Mrs Kraft. At one point, Laury tells Mrs. Kraft that she is going out with a different man tonight simply to make her steady boyfriend Sam Wilde (Lawrence Tierney) jealous. Sam runs into the dating couple later that evening at a casino. Later that night Sam confronts Laury's date in the boardinghouse kitchen and a violent fight insues and Sam, in impressive fashion, kills the other man. Laury then comes in the kitchen and discovers the body and then Sam kills her. Shortly thereafter Helen returns home and finds the dead couple but for some reasons decides not to call the police and instead takes a train to San Francisco. Just by coincidence, Sam takes the same train and sits with her and this sets up a turbulent, yet fascinating relationship between the two for the rest of the movie.
I really enjoyed this movie for a number of reasons. First, the beautiful Claire Trevor plays a morally bankrupt golddigger, but does it with such superficial charm and grace. Second, there are some other memorable performances by Walter Slezak who plays an articulate, but morally depraved detective and Elisha Cook Jr. does a fine job as Sam's pint-sized sidekick. But most of all, Lawrence Tierney does a great job as the quintessential tough guy who knows what he wants and brazenly goes after it. He clearly displays raw acting talent, but his dead cold stares and his overtly blunt directness, is what makes him so perfect for this role.Read more ›
Trevor and Tierney play two very twisted individuals in Robert Wise's 1947 BORN TO KILL, whose original title, "Deadlier Than the Male," indicates where the serious weirdness is concentrated. Wise decision. Trevor's role, that of a good woman drawn to a very bad man, is the most complex part in the movie and she's utterly convincing. Her co-star, Tierney, is a whole other kettle of fish. On the commentary track film noir author Eddie Muller tells us this was Tierney's shot at `A' films after his smash hit in 1945's `B' film "Dillinger." BORN TO KILL comes bundled in a set of films that includes "Dillinger" and he essentially plays the same character here. With his George Raft-ian vocal inflections, flaring nostrils, and perpetual scowl Tierney is intimidating enough, but Tierney was a legendary bad-boy off-screen and I'm not sure whether the one-note tough guy acts were conscious decisions or simply an extension of his personality. As it is, beyond his intensity and ways with a knife or a cudgel he's not much less bland than the Good Half-Sister (Audrey Long) and the Good Fiancé Phillip Terry (probably most famous as Mr. Joan Crawford #4.)
If Trevor has to carry the main plot on her capable shoulders without a whole lot of help from her other top-of-the-billers, the under-cast is wonderful. The great Elisha Cook Jr.Read more ›
That man does other people wrong, too, because, after all, he is born to kill. There seems to be no other reason for his rampant killing, which is what attracts Trevor (kinky), even after he marries her rich sister. By the time she is Wised up, it's too late for them to escape the cross-purposes of their passions; these people are so hard boiled they could roll unhurt down Nob Hill. For them, it is clear, everything will end badly. We would be cheated if it didn't. Film noir forbids happy endings.
Its sister heiresses (one a beauty, the other a deviant schemer) are right out of "The Big sleep." Walter Slezak as the portly private eye and Esther Howard as the blousy old dame who hires him are amusing. It's fun to be in wartime San Francisco, even when the editing confuses familiar locales (city dwellers will scratch their heads.) You see a movie like this to go slumming through messy lives and feeling superior to them. Plenty of opportunity to do that in "Born to Kill."
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This film was made 2 years before I was born (1947). It is simply fantastic. Alfred Hitchcock couldn't have done it better. Read morePublished 8 months ago by PR GUY
This 1947 "film noir" is a very original and interesting thing and I really enjoyed watching it. Below, more of my impressions, with some limited SPOILERS. Read morePublished 15 months ago by Maciej
My little movie group is all about film noir now, particular the work of film noir's legendary bad-guy, Lawence Tierney! Read morePublished 16 months ago by Ketch
A 40's film noir with a great cast of characters. Laurence Tierney heads the cast as the psychotic killer with a short fuse. Read morePublished 18 months ago by Suwannee
First off, the photography is GREAT! Half of this movie is very modern (especially for its time), the other half seems to lack the verve of what the story portends or what the... Read morePublished 19 months ago by Berigan Taylor
One of film noir classics. Great story and actors make this a movie you shouldn't miss. Don't pass it up!Published on September 15, 2013 by Paxjuno
Two of the screens top film noir actors pair off in this 1947 drama about lust, money and power. A rich widow (Claire Trevor) is attracted to her brother-in-law who is a murderer... Read morePublished on April 28, 2013 by Dr. James Gardner
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