7.2/10
4,122
80 user 39 critic

Born to Kill (1947)

Approved | | Crime, Drama, Film-Noir | 3 May 1947 (USA)
A calculating divorcée risks her chances at wealth and security with a man she doesn't love by getting involved with the hotheaded murderer romancing her foster sister.

Director:

Robert Wise

Writers:

Eve Greene (screenplay), Richard Macaulay (screenplay) | 1 more credit »
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Cast

Complete credited cast:
Claire Trevor ... Helen Brent
Lawrence Tierney ... Sam Wilde
Walter Slezak ... Albert Arnett
Phillip Terry ... Fred Grover
Audrey Long ... Georgia Staples Wilde
Elisha Cook Jr. ... Marty Waterman
Isabel Jewell ... Laury Palmer
Esther Howard ... Mrs. Kraft
Kathryn Card ... Grace
Tony Barrett ... Danny
Grandon Rhodes ... Inspector Wilson
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Storyline

In Reno a man kills a girl he likes and her boyfriend out of jealousy; it may not be the first time. A woman whose divorce has just come through finds the bodies but decides not to become involved. The two meet next day on the train to San Francisco unaware of this link between them. They are attracted to each other, and the relationship survives his marriage to her half-sister for money and status. It even survives the woman discovering that he was the murderer, though she may not realise how easily someone who has killed this way before can do so again. Written by Jeremy Perkins {J-26}

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

THE COLDEST KILLER A WOMAN EVER LOVED! (original poster-all caps) See more »


Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

3 May 1947 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Deadlier Than the Male See more »

Filming Locations:

Reno, Nevada, USA See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

RKO Radio Pictures See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (RCA Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Filmed partially on location at Jewett Estate, 1145 Arden Road, Pasadena, California. See more »

Goofs

The stunt doubles getting on the train in Reno are obviously not Lawrence Tierney and Claire Trevor. See more »

Quotes

Helen: [to Sam, approvingly] You're not a turnip, are you?
See more »


Soundtracks

I Haven't a Thing to Wear
(uncredited)
Music by Harry Revel
Tune on the radio when Helen discovers the bodies
See more »

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User Reviews

 
Why Wasn't Lawrence Tierney a Bigger Star?
14 June 2006 | by BaronBl00dSee all my reviews

Superior film noir classic directed by the late Robert Wise about Claire Trevor and her love for a killer, Lawrence Tierney. A couple is murdered by Tierney in Reno because he was jealous and easily angered to the point of violence. Trevor finds the bodies but leaves after finalizing her divorce. While on the train, she meets up with Tierney and has instant chemistry with him. Only trouble is that she has a fiancée with a lot of money and Tierney is broke. Well, just like with any film noir, it gets more complicated with Tierney marrying Trevor's foster sister(a wealthy woman in her own right) and being tailed by sleazy, literate detective Walter Slezak. Wise does a more than adequate job creating tension and suspense in this film and leaving no character's sense of good in tact. All of the characters it seems are of dubious natures with Esther Howard's roly-poly drunk with a heart of gold coming out as the most ethical! The acting by the leads and the supporting cast are first-rate. I am so surprised that Tierney, a man I immediately remembered from a Seinfeld episode and from Reservoir Dogs, was so good so long ago. He seemed to have dropped out of the public eye for so long, but his acting definitely shows great potential. I believe I read that alcoholism was behind this. At any rate, Tierney is very good, Trevor plays one of the coldest performances on screen(her lines to Howard were absolutely chilling), Slezak is vintage Slezak - an oily, good-humoured man looking out for himself, Elisha Cook Jr. gives another good turn as Tierney's buddy, and Howards excels as the drunken woman. The scenes with her and Cook were well-paced and effectively frightening. Born to Kill is nothing great in terms of plot or story - we have seen much of the same before - but under the adroit eyes of Wise and aided by big performances by talented actors and actresses - it rises above the mundane to be a vintage film noir classic. Tieney and Trevor really personified cold wickedness as well as anyone I have seen on screen.


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