Born to Kill (1947)

“The coldest killer a woman ever loved.” A brutal film noir directed by Robert Wise, Born to Kill stars legendary tough guy actor Lawrence Tierney (Dillinger) and “Queen of Film Noir” Claire Trevor (Key Largo), along with an excellent supporting cast that includes Walter Slezak and Elisha Cook, Jr. Tierney portrays psychotic killer “Sam Wilde” who makes a play for the newly divorced “Helen Brent” (Trevor). However, the conniving, deceitful Helen is already engaged to wealthy, clueless dipshit “Fred Grover” (Phillip Terry) and she knows that Sam killed her Reno neighbor “Laury Palmer” (Isabel Jewell) and Laury’s “boyfriend” in a jealous rage. So the ruthless but ambitious Sam ends up marrying Helen’s extremely rich foster sister “Georgia Staples” (Audrey Long). As you can probably imagine, tragedy lurks just around the corner. Slezak excels as verse-quoting detective “Albert Arnett,” while Cook, as Sam’s demented buddy “Marty Waterman” gets a chance to deliver some offbeat lines such as “You can’t just go around killing people when the notion strikes you. It’s just not feasible.” Born to Kill was released in the UK as Lady of Deceit. New York Times critic Bosley Crowther called the film “a smeary tabloid fable” remarking that “it is precisely because it is designed to pander to the lower levels of taste that it is reprehensible.” Born to Kill was reportedly based on the 1943 book Deadlier than the Male by James Gunn. Wise’s diverse directing career included such classics as The Set-Up (1949), The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951), West Side Story (1961), The Haunting (1963) and The Sound of Music (1965).

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