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Born Reckless (1930)

Passed | | Crime, Drama, War | 6 June 1930 (USA)
Hoping to use the publicity to get re-elected, a judge sentences a notorious gangster to fight in the war.


John Ford


Dudley Nichols (screenplay), Dudley Nichols (dialogue) | 1 more credit »




Cast overview, first billed only:
Edmund Lowe ... Louis Beretti
Catherine Dale Owen ... Joan Sheldon
William Harrigan ... Good News Brophy
Marguerite Churchill ... Rosa Beretti
Warren Hymer ... Big Shot
Lee Tracy ... Bill O'Brien
Frank Albertson ... Frank Sheldon
Ilka Chase ... High Society Customer at Beretti's
Ferike Boros ... Ma Beretti
Paul Porcasi ... Pa Beretti
Joe Brown Joe Brown ... Needle Beer Grogan - Bartender
Ben Bard ... Joe Bergman
Pat Somerset ... Duke
Eddie Gribbon ... Bugs
Mike Donlin ... Donnelly - Third Gangster Sent to War


Hoping to use the publicity to get re-elected, a judge sentences a notorious gangster to fight in the war.

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Louis Beretti, who lived recklessly and wasn't afraid to die that way, in this powerful drama of gangland's ruthless killers. (Print Ad-Nevada Daily Mail, ((Nevada, Mo.)) 18 September 1930) See more »


Crime | Drama | War



Parents Guide:

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Did You Know?


Louis Beretti: Say, this room ain't big enough for both us. This town ain't big enough. If you ever bump into me, you better see me first, you dirty, sneaking rat!
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Over There
Composed by George M. Cohan
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User Reviews

Early John Ford Talkie
24 April 2011 | by bkoganbingSee all my reviews

In his long career John Ford shared directorial credit in two other films, Mister Roberts and Young Cassidy. Both were considerably better than Born Reckless. Someone named Andrew Bennison who was mostly a screenwriter was the co-director, presumably to help Ford over the bumps of the new sound media.

I saw and reviewed Ford's film, The Black Watch some months ago and he could have used the help. By the time Arrowsmith and Up The River were in theaters, I think John Ford was used to the sound media.

Except for The Whole Town's Talking possibly, I'm not sure if John Ford ever directed anything else that could remotely be called a gangster film. Our hero protagonist here is Edmund Lowe who after being caught along with some other of his friends in a jewelry heist is given the choice by a district attorney to enlist in the army or stand trial. He and his friends are local heroes in their neighborhood and the District Attorney is running for judge. Lowe and company take the offer.

By the way, Roy Stewart as the DA is another type that Ford would use over and over in films, the self satisfied bloviating blowhard who was usually in a position of great responsibility and often misused it. Coming to mind immediately with Stewart as the DA is banker Gatewood in Stagecoach who was so memorably played by Berton Churchill.

The story than goes to very familiar ground for Ford in the military. This is the best part of the film by far and absolutely pure John Ford. All the rough house style comedy that you saw in his later military setting pictures is right here. You'll see Ford regulars Jack Pennick and Ward Bond here.

Back in civilian Lowe sets himself if not as an outright gangster, he becomes a club owner, aka runs a speakeasy which is not quite condoned by polite society. Ford has a great old time ribbing Prohibition, still in affect in 1930. On a more serious note like Al Pacino, his friends are determined to drag him right back in again.

The version I saw of Born Reckless had some footage left out which left some holes in the film so part of its problems come from that. The rest might very well be the result of Ford being forced to share director credit with someone not anywhere close to his talents. It's not a bad film, but not real worthy of what we would expect from John Ford.

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English | Italian | French

Release Date:

6 June 1930 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

El intrépido See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Fox Film Corporation See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Mono (MovieTone) (Western Electric System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.20 : 1
See full technical specs »

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