102 user 42 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.


Robert Wise


Eve Greene (screen play), Richard Macaulay (screen play) | 1 more credit »




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


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 then 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 realize how easily someone who has killed this way before can do so again. Written by Jeremy Perkins {J-26}

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


That "Dillinger" guy's most savage role! See more »


Approved | See all certifications »

Did You Know?


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 »


After the Coffee Shop worker takes the call for Arnett, telling the caller he isn't there, she hangs up the phone and Arnett says - "A debtor, I take it.." - referring to someone he owes money to. The woman says it was, but the caller would be the creditor and Arnett would be the debtor - the one who owes money to the creditor. See more »


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


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

User Reviews

An Iceberg of Woman
2 September 2011 | by claudio_carvalhoSee all my reviews

In Reno, the cold-hearted Helen Brent (Claire Trevor) has just divorced from her husband and returns to the boarding house owned by Mrs. Kraft (Esther Howard) to pay her expenses and say goodbye to her and to Mrs. Kraft neighbor and best friend Laury Palmer (Isabel Jewell) since she intends to return to San Francisco early in the morning. Helen goes to a casino to celebrate her divorce and glances at the gambler Sam Wild (Lawrence Tierney) and Laury also goes to the casino with her boyfriend Danny Jaden (Tony Barrett). When Laury sees Sam, she sneaks with Danny since she had dated the gambler. Late night, Danny and Laury go to her house and Sam is waiting for them and kills the couple in the kitchen.

Meanwhile, Helen sees Laury's dog on the street and brings it to the house. When she sees the bodies in the kitchen, she does not report to the police and heads to the train station, where she meets Sam. They travel together and Sam lodges in the Terrace Hotel. When Sam visits Helen, he leans that she lives in the mansion of her foster sister, the millionaire Georgia Staples (Audrey Long) and is the fiancée of the wealthy Fred Grover (Phillip Terry). The gold-digger Sam seduces Georgia and sooner they get married, but the calculating Helen feels horny for Sam. Meanwhile Mrs. Kraft hires the smart and sleazy private eyes Matthew Albert Arnett (Walter Slezak) to investigate the murder of her friend Laury.

"Born to Kill" is a film-noir that tells the story of a cold, greedy and calculating woman that feels desire for a ruthless killer. Claire Trevor performs an ambitious woman that is an iceberg and plans to marry for money with a good man that controls her bad instincts and sees her world collapsing when she meets the amoral killer Sam Wild. Marty 'Mart' Waterman (Elisha Cook Jr.) has a strange friendship with Sam and the fact that they share a double bad in the low-budget hotel may give a hint that they have a homosexual relationship. Walter Slezak has also a great performance in the role of a sleazy character. My vote is seven.

Title (Brazil): "Nascido para Matar" ("Born to Kill")

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English | Latin | French

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


Sound Mix:

Mono (RCA Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »

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