Born to Be Bad (1950) - Rotten Tomatoes

Born to Be Bad (1950)

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Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

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Movie Info

One of the most oft-revived of the pre-Technicolor Nicholas Ray efforts, Born to Be Bad offers us the spectacle of Joan Fontaine portraying a character described as "a cross between Lucrezia Borgia and Peg O' My Heart". For the benefit of her wealthy husband Zachary Scott and his family, Fontaine adopts a facade of wide-eyed sweetness. Bored with her hubby, she inaugurates a romance with novelist Robert Ryan. All her carefully crafted calculations come acropper when both men discover that she's a bitch among bitches. She might have gotten away with all her machinations, but the censors said uh-uh. Originally slated for filming in 1946, with Henry Fonda scheduled to play the Robert Ryan part, Born to Bad was cancelled, then resurfaced as Bed as Roses in 1948, this time with Barbara Bel Geddes in the Fontaine role. RKO head Howard Hughes' decision to replace Bel Geddes with the more bankable Fontaine was one of the reasons that producer Dore Schary left RKO in favor of MGM. Based on Anne Parrish's novel All Kneeling, Born to be Bad is so overheated at times that it threatens to lapse into self-parody; though this never happens, the film was the basis for one of TV star Carol Burnett's funniest and most devastating movie takeoffs, Raised to be Rotten.

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Cast

Joan Fontaine
as Christabel Caine Carey
Zachary Scott
as Curtis Carey
Robert Ryan
as Nick Bradley
Joan Leslie
as Donna Foster
Mel Ferrer
as Gabriel 'Gobby' Broome
Harold Vermilyea
as John Caine
Virginia Farmer
as Aunt Clara Caine
Kathleen Howard
as Mrs. Bolton
Dick Ryan
as Arthur
Bess Flowers
as Mrs. Worthington
Joy Hallward
as Mrs. Porter
Hazel Boyne
as Committee Woman
Irving Bacon
as Jewelry Salesman
Sam Lufkin
as Taxi Driver
Peggy Leon
as Caine's Secretary
Ann Burr
as Schoolgirl
Frank Arnold
as Man at Art Gallery
Donald Dillaway
as Photographer
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Critic Reviews for Born to Be Bad

All Critics (4) | Top Critics (1)

This is a lively, vicious, and daring film.

October 22, 2007 | Full Review…
Chicago Reader
Top Critic

Lively romantic melodrama with a creative use of architecture.

January 30, 2012 | Full Review…
Classic Film and Television

Ray's interest in the psychological state of his protagonist and its relationship to visual style makes the film mesmerizing.

October 22, 2007 | Rating: 3.5/4 | Full Review…
TV Guide

Trashy but stylishly entertaining melodrama.

December 28, 2004 | Rating: C+ | Full Review…
Ozus' World Movie Reviews

Audience Reviews for Born to Be Bad

½

Joan is in her viper mode here and the film is enjoyable but the ending is a letdown.

jay nixon
jay nixon

Super Reviewer

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