7.3/10
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76 user 36 critic

Born to Kill (1947)

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
Lawrence Tierney ... Sam
Walter Slezak ... Arnett
Phillip Terry ... Fred
Audrey Long ... Georgia
Elisha Cook Jr. ... Marty
Isabel Jewell ... Laury Palmer
Esther Howard ... Mrs. Kraft
Kathryn Card Kathryn Card ... Grace
Tony Barrett Tony Barrett ... Danny
Grandon Rhodes ... Inspector Wilson
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Jason Robards Sr. ... Conductor (scenes deleted)
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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:

BULLET-MAN and SILKEN SAVAGE...(original print ad) 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

Arnett quotes the Bible twice. "I find more bitter than death the woman ...", is from Ecclesiastes 7:26, though it is not an exact quote from the standard bibles, and "... the way of the transgressor is hard..." (sic) from Proverbs 13:15. See more »

Goofs

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 »

Quotes

Helen: If you go to the police, you'll see Laury sooner than you think.
Mrs. Kraft: Are you trying to scare me?
Helen: I'm just warning you. Perhaps you don't realize, it's painful being killed. A piece of metal sliding into your body, finding its way into your heart. Or a bullet tearing through your skin, crashing into a bone. It takes a while to die, too. Sometimes a long while.
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

 
"You're the coldest iceberg of a woman..." and she's a thrill to watch
8 December 2009 | by secondtakeSee all my reviews

Born to Kill (1947)

"Has it occurred to you, neither of us looks like a scoundrel, do we?"

The smart, cutting lead female in this crime noir, Helen, played by Claire Trevor, is enough alone to make Born to Kill rise above. She's educated and calculating, far from the gutter but not at home with mere elegance and wealth, the things she's been trying to corner. The story is hers, luckily, because she's ultimately admirable, whatever her moral milkiness.

The whole thing starts with a shock, and then with a disturbing calm where all the pieces refuse to fit together. The lead male, Sam, played by Lawrence Tierney, is a ruthless, violent man with all the elegance and brains of a half-track. He's a perfect problem for Helen, and the movie only compounds and coils around a plot that never falters, whatever its complications. The detective (Walter Slezak) is too perfect in his delicate selfishness, and good old Elisha Cook Jr. is a surprising, and also perfect, good guy with too much tolerance due to his large heart.

It isn't a surprise that a good script and some talented actors are put together with such smart, fast panache by a young Robert Wise, more famous for little tidbits like West Side Story and Sound of Music. It ends up taking some astonishing twists, and some liberties with location shooting that are fabulous for 1947.

After all is said in done we are back with Claire Trevor's performance, which is large and nuanced, and very convincing. It's a good thing she has a lot to work with. A great film. Even the third time.


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