6.7/10
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Born to Be Bad (1950)

Approved | | Drama, Film-Noir | 31 August 1950 (USA)
A woman's attempt to appear innocent and sweet clashes with her lover who sees through her act and the wealthy man she tries to trick into marrying her.

Director:

Nicholas Ray

Writers:

Edith Sommer (screen play), Charles Schnee (adaptation) | 3 more credits »
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Cast

Complete credited cast:
Joan Fontaine ... Christabel
Robert Ryan ... Nick
Zachary Scott ... Curtis
Joan Leslie ... Donna
Mel Ferrer ... Gobby
Harold Vermilyea ... John Caine
Virginia Farmer ... Aunt Clara
Kathleen Howard ... Mrs. Bolton
Dick Ryan Dick Ryan ... Arthur
Bess Flowers ... Mrs. Worthington
Joy Hallward Joy Hallward ... Mrs. Porter
Hazel Boyne Hazel Boyne ... Committee Woman
Irving Bacon ... Jewelry Salesman
Gordon Oliver ... The Lawyer
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Storyline

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

Taglines:

Trouble never came in a more desirable package! See more »

Genres:

Drama | Film-Noir

Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

31 August 1950 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

All Kneeling See more »

Filming Locations:

San Francisco, California, USA See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

RKO Radio Pictures See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

| (TCM print)

Sound Mix:

Mono (RCA Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

RKO had originally scheduled this film to be filmed twice previously: in 1946 with Joan Fontaine, Henry Fonda, John Sutton and Marsha Hunt. It was canceled. In 1948 RKO put the film on its schedule under the title of BED OF ROSES, with Barbara Bel Geddes in the role of Christabel. However, Howard Hughes decided he did not care for Bel Geddes and postponed it. See more »

Quotes

Nick Bradley: Why don't you marry me and quit getting lost
Christabel Caine Carey: Nick!
Nick Bradley: That's no answer.
Christabel Caine Carey: Oh I can't darling, I need time, give me a little time.
Nick Bradley: All right, I won't push you. I'll give you till tommorow night.
See more »

Connections

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

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User Reviews

 
And the message is – your lies will always catch up with you...
4 February 2007 | by RJBurke1942See all my reviews

Made in 1950, this little gem was no doubt overshadowed by All About Eve (1950), the movie that made Anne Baxter and which also won six Academy Awards. The latter is, of course, a longer and more complex narrative, but both are fine movies. This was Nicholas Ray's sixth directorial effort, after Knock On Any Door (1949), In A Lonely Place (1950) and a few others.

No awards for Born To Be Bad though, but both stories have essentially the same theme: how a scheming woman sets out to get what she wants, and at any cost. Well, that theme has been done many times of course, but this (and Eve) stand out.

The narrative is straightforward: Christabel (Joan Fontaine) arrives on the social scene in San Francisco to make a name for herself. She latches onto Curtis Carey (Zachary Scott), the fiancée of her cousin Donna (Joan Leslie), succeeds in disrupting their marriage plans and then persuades Curtis to marry her. And, all the while she's in love with Nick Bradley (Robert Ryan) who is, in one sense, just as ruthless as she: an ambitious author determined to get recognition. Nick -- poor fool -- loves Christabel but also sees her for what she is. But, as you know, you can't fool all the people all the time; so eventually, Christabel gets her comeuppance for stealing Curtis from Donna while playing around with Nick at the same time...

In and around all of this pot-boiling is Gobby (the always effective Mel Ferrer), the artist who watches the foibles of humankind with cynical, but not unkind, objectivity (the role is, of course, the one that puts the viewer...er...in the picture).

The cast is uniformly excellent, although I have rarely liked Joan Fontaine (her sister, Olivia de Havilland was the better of the two, I think) as an actress. Having said that, I must say, however, that she excels in the role of the scheming femme fatale – she is truly hateful, and does it well. Robert Ryan is always good (at least in the movies of this era) and plays the hungry author like a wolf tearing at lambs; Zachary Scott is well cast as the duped husband. Joan Leslie is adequate but outshone by the duplicity of the role Joan Fontaine played to the hilt.

The most effective actor, however, is Mel Ferrer who verbally jousts with everybody, and delivers some of the most effective lines in the movie – although Robert Ryan has his fair share of wicked one liners also (e.g. in reference to Christabel, Nick muses to himself, "If she played her cards right, she could win me!" Towards the finale, he says to her: "I love you so much I wish I liked you!"). See this movie for the dialog, if nothing else. You won't be disappointed... promise.

So, why didn't this film get the recognition it deserved? Well, it came from RKO studios, which, at that time, was owned by Howard Hughes, a multi-millionaire who wasn't much liked by any of the Hollywood moguls. Hence, at a guess, I'd say favorable distribution and advertising throughout USA was probably lacking...


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