40 user 17 critic

Born to Be Bad (1950)

Approved | | Drama, Film-Noir | 15 July 1950 (USA)
Christabel fools everyone with her sweet exterior including her cousin Donna and Donna's wealthy fiancée Curtis. The only one who sees through her facade is Nick, a rugged writer who loves ... See full summary »



(screen play), (adaptation) | 3 more credits »
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Complete credited cast:
Harold Vermilyea ...
John Caine
Virginia Farmer ...
Aunt Clara
Mrs. Bolton
Dick Ryan ...
Bess Flowers ...
Mrs. Worthington
Joy Hallward ...
Mrs. Porter
Hazel Boyne ...
Committee Woman
Jewelry Salesman
The Lawyer
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Jack Chefe ...
Man (scenes deleted)


Christabel fools everyone with her sweet exterior including her cousin Donna and Donna's wealthy fiancée Curtis. The only one who sees through her facade is Nick, a rugged writer who loves her anyway. Christabel also loves Nick, but she loves Curtis' money more. After convincing Curtis that Donna is only interested in him for his money, she tricks Curtis into marrying her. Of course, she still dallies with Nick on the side. Written by Daniel Bubbeo <dbubbeo@cmp.com>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


MAN-BAIT! See more »


Drama | Film-Noir


Approved | See all certifications »




Release Date:

15 July 1950 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

All Kneeling  »

Filming Locations:

Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


| (TCM print)

Sound Mix:

(RCA Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


The Cadillac is a 1948 Series 62 convertible coupe. See more »


Nick Bradley: You love only one person in the world Christabel, and it's the love of a lifetime.
See more »


Spoofed in The Carol Burnett Show: Episode #7.13 (1973) See more »

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User Reviews

Sweet young thing wreaks havoc
3 February 2006 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

Joan Fontaine plays a real conniver hiding beneath a soft exterior in "Born to Be Bad," also starring Robert Ryan, Zachary Scott, Mel Ferrer, and Joan Leslie. Fontaine is Christabel, a young woman from the poor side of the family who comes to town to work for her Uncle John once his assistant (Leslie) has married a wealthy, eligible bachelor Curtis (Scott). Fontaine sets her sights on the big money right away but finds herself in the heavy clinches with an author (Ryan) who's in love with her. She's reminiscent in her way of a non-show biz Eve Harrington.

Using her soft voice and all that gossamer femininity, Christabel manages, with an innuendo here, an innuendo there, a suggestion here, a hint there - to totally break up the engaged couple and drive Joan Leslie right out of town. Since Christabel has dropped out of business school, her uncle says she can't work for him and needs to return home. In a panic, she throws herself at Curtis at a ball and wins him. The question then is, what did she win? What did he lose? This potboiler was directed by Nicholas Ray, and I have to believe the man had a sense of humor. Otherwise, how do you account for those love scenes? Every time a man went to kiss Fontaine, he swept her around and dipped her, nearly breaking her neck as the music crescendos. Then there were the shots of Joan, her face in a state of rapture, as she realized she was getting what she wanted. Very campy.

Joan Fontaine is excellent in the role, very sweet in the beginning but becoming austere after she marries Curtis. It's a subtle change but definitely demonstrates her acting ability. She looks lovely in a variety of gowns and dresses. Robert Ryan is extremely handsome in this, as well as charming, funny, and a real catch. His character sees right through Christabel but wants her anyway. The acting is uniformly good. Mel Ferrer plays an artist who also has Christabel's number and paints her portrait.

"Born to Be Bad" is fun to watch though it's certainly not Ray's best work. I do think one has to allow for the fact that he saw this as a real potboiler and directed it the way he did on purpose. If you can't beat 'em - and with this script, how could he - join 'em.

By the way, there's a mistake in the letter that Christabel leaves for Curtis.

20 of 22 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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