Born to Kill (1947)




Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

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Somehow the titles of the films of hardcase actor Lawrence Tierney seemed to be extensions of the man's personality, as witness such films as The Devil Thumbs a Ride and Born to Kill. In the latter picture, Tierney starts the ball rolling by committing a double murder in a jealous pique. Claire Trevor discovers the bodies, but says nothing to the police; she's leaving town and doesn't want to be impeded. Trevor and Tierney meet and fall in love on the train to San Francisco. Unfortunately, Trevor is married, so Tierney shifts his affections to her sister, Audrey Long (later the wife of director Billy Wilder). He marries Long, though he keeps up his illicit affair with Trevor. When detectives investigating the murders come snooping, they are bought off by Tierney's pal Elisha Cook Jr.--who is then murdered by Tierney, who suspects that Cook is carrying on with Trevor (Cook seldom survived to the end of any of his films). When Tierney finally does face arrest, it's at the instigation of the jealous Trevor, who is shot full of holes for her trouble. Born to Kill was based on James Gunn's novel Deadlier Than the Male. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi
Classics , Drama
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Lawrence Tierney
as Sam Wild
Audrey Long
as Georgia Staples
Claire Trevor
as Helen Brent
Walter Slezak
as Matthew Albert Arnett
Phillip Terry
as Fred Grover
Elisha Cook Jr.
as Marty 'Mart' Waterman
Isabel Jewell
as Laury Palmer
Esther Howard
as Mrs. Kraft
Tony Barrett
as Danny Jaden
Grandon Rhodes
as Inspector Wilson
Sam Lufkin
as Crap Dealer
Sayre Dearing
as Crap Dealer
Sammy Shack
as Crap Dealer
Tommy Noonan
as Bellboy
Al Murphy
as Cab Driver
Philip Warren
as Chauffeur
Ben Frommer
as Delivery Boy
Netta Packer
as Mrs Perth
Lee Frederick
as Desk Clerk
Demetrius Alexis
as Maitre d'Hotel
Ellen Corby
as 2nd Maid
Jean Fenwick
as Margaret Macy
Perc Launders
as Detective Bryson
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Critic Reviews for Born to Kill

All Critics (5)

...a fairly typical film-noir premise that's employed to watchable yet entirely unmemorable effect by Robert Wise...

Full Review… | July 15, 2016
Reel Film Reviews

Competent if slightly too tame for a supposedly sleazy story.

Full Review… | May 16, 2006
Lessons of Darkness

The usually meek Robert Wise trades his chameleonic tastefulness for full-on, jazzy misanthropy in this nasty melodrama.

Full Review… | May 1, 2006
Slant Magazine

Hard to watch, but effective and alluring nonetheless.

Full Review… | September 9, 2005
Combustible Celluloid

A revolting B film noir...

Full Review… | April 2, 2003
Ozus' World Movie Reviews

Audience Reviews for Born to Kill

Another good film noir, with a very interesting story of murder and romance. Good acting, good story, it's good.

Aj V
Aj V

Super Reviewer


Finally, a noir film where the title actually makes sense! Classic psychopath meets girl love story. If you can find it on DVD be sure to check out the commentary from author and noir expert Eddie Muller. Muller's insight into the character and personality of Lawrence Tierney is priceless. It wasn't so long ago that I couldn't even tell you who Robert Wise was. Now I find myself, like a sponge, wanting to soak up every film he ever directed. If I come across one I dislike I'll let you know.

Randy Tippy
Randy Tippy

Super Reviewer

two ambitious psychopaths hook up and all hell breaks loose. claire trevor is awesome as the soulless manipulator who destroys everyone around her to be near laurence tierney's brutal thug

Stella Dallas
Stella Dallas

Super Reviewer

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