Monday, August 1, 2011

Born To Kill (1947)

Born To Be Bad

- Multi-genre director Robert Wise delivers a fairly average almost film noir here with Born To Kill (1947).

Sam's last name "Wild" is especially apt - he kills without reservation, lacks a clear thought process, and is completely uncompromising in fulfilling his desires. That is why he thinks Helen Trent is so perfect for him, she is just as born to be bad as he is: greedy, lustful, and heartless - hardly blinking an eye at a dead body. What starts out as an interesting murder mystery here in Born To Kill ends up a pretty dull clashing of messed up psyches by the two leads that delivers nothing special. Soon after Sam and Helen get off the train at San Francisco, Born to Kill slothfully coasts along until the film finally ends.

While the film is nothing special overall, Born to Kill is worth a look just for the acting. Claire Trevor is very shocking and effective in her disturbed Helen Trent character, Lawrence Tierney works well as the psychotic tough guy killer Sam Wild, Audrey Long delivers more than you would expect as the easily manipulated Georgia Staples, and Elisha Cook Jr. gives the most impressive performance as the loyal but "bad boy" Marty.

Born To Kill has plenty of dark elements that fill up the reels - murder, lust, greed, betrayal - but there is little darkness in the way the film looks. While featuring a couple of dark scenes, the vast majority of the film is not hardly dark at all; and on top of that, the film is shot in an all-too ordinary and straight-up fashion, implementing very little uniqueness and style. For a film that is often touted as film noir, there is little noir to be seen.

CBC Rating: 6/10

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