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Born to Kill (1947)

Passed  -  Crime | Drama | Film-Noir  -  3 May 1947 (USA)
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Ratings: 7.3/10 from 2,489 users  
Reviews: 60 user | 33 critic

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.



(screenplay), (screenplay), 1 more credit »
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Title: Born to Kill (1947)

Born to Kill (1947) on IMDb 7.3/10

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Complete credited cast:
Walter Slezak ...
Phillip Terry ...
Audrey Long ...
Laury Palmer
Esther Howard ...
Mrs. Kraft
Kathryn Card ...
Tony Barrett ...
Grandon Rhodes ...
Inspector Wilson
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Jason Robards Sr. ...
Conductor (scenes deleted)


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 <>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


The Story of a Woman Who Loved Unwisely...and too well! See more »


Crime | Drama | Film-Noir


Passed | See all certifications »




Release Date:

3 May 1947 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Deadlier Than the Male  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(RCA Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Arnett's quote, "Where every prospect pleases and only man is vile...", is from the hymn, "From Greenland's Icy Mountains", lyrics by Reginald Heber. See more »


When Mrs. Kraft rolls down the hill in the desert, her head is pointing left when she comes to a stop. After the edit (when the stunt double is replaced), her head is now pointing to the right. See more »


Georgia Staples: Well, I'll tell you this much. You won't get another nickel as long as I live. And when I die, you still won't. I'll see to that first thing in the morning.
See more »


Featured in Film Noir: Bringing Darkness to Light (2006) See more »


From This Day Forward
Music by Leigh Harline
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User Reviews

Darker and more perverse than you can possibly imagine!
3 December 2006 | by (London, England) – See all my reviews

The oft-wasted (in both senses of the word) Lawrence Tierney is seen to much better effect than usual in Born to Kill, truly one of the most perverse noir romances of all time. The two leads aren't ill-starred lovers or victims of fate, they're born bad and they know it - indeed, nothing gets them hotter than talking about dead bodies. There is a rather worrying subtext that this is down to their lower-class birth, but you get the impression even if they had been born in high society that these two would have shown up the Borgias for the amateurs they were. At times it's hard to tell who is the more ruthless, Tierney's calculating but none-too-bright bull-headed murderous thug or Claire Trevor's magpie in the nest, who may not actually kill but probably does far worse - as Esther Howard says, she carries her own curse inside of her. There's great support from Elisha Cook ("I'm a baaad boy!") and, especially, Walter Slezak, superb as the wistfully philosophical private detective on their trail, open to the best offer going from either side but still not the stereotyped corrupt P.I. you expect from the genre, and refreshingly he isn't given the fate you expect either thanks to a constantly unexpected script by Eve Greene and Richard Macaulay. The tarnished, slightly grubby conscience of a film noir like no other, he's the closest thing Robert Wise's superb movie has to a hero.

Warners R1 DVD boasts a fine transfer and an excellent audio commentary by Eddie Muller that includes some outrageous Tierney stories for good measure. Highly recommended, and how!

8 of 8 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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