Born to Be Bad (1934) - Rotten Tomatoes

Born to Be Bad (1934)

Born to Be Bad (1934)

Born to Be Bad





Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

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Movie Info

Loretta Young, who became known almost exclusively for playing sweet, wholesome roles, is kind of a shocker in this romantic drama as Letty Strong, an unwed mother who survives by living life as a grifter and the next thing to a prostitute -- all for the good of her son Mickey (Jackie Kelk), who, not yet 10 years old, is turning into a street hustler every bit as devious and untrustworthy as she is. Then, one day, he's skating on the street and gets hit by a milk truck, which happens to be driven by Malcolm Trevor (Cary Grant), the owner of the dairy, who was spot-checking his operation. Letty and Mickey try to take Malcolm for a hefty sum in court until their case is blown out of the water, but Malcolm also finds himself appalled by the kind of life that Letty is setting up for the boy. He gets her to agree to let Mickey move in with him and his wife Alice ($Marion Burns), at their estate outside the city. And after some extremely rough patches, Mickey begins to see that there's more to being a boy -- or becoming a man -- than what you can steal or cheat off the next guy. But Letty isn't about to let her son get away that easily, or let Malcolm get away with taking him from her, even if he is right. She tries to wreck Malcolm's home and marriage, all to get her son back and take revenge on him in the process.more
Rating: Unrated
Genre: Drama, Classics
Directed By:
Written By: Ralph Graves, Harry Jacobs
In Theaters:
On DVD: Jan 5, 2004
20th Century Fox Film Corporation


Loretta Young
as Letty Strong
Cary Grant
as Malcolm Trevor
Jackie Kelk
as Mickey Strong
Russell Hopton
as Steve Karns
Andrew Tombes
as Max Lieber
Howard Lang
as Dr. Dropsy
Marion Burns
as Alice Trevor
Matt Briggs
as Truant Officer
Geneva Mitchell
as Miss Crawford
Eddie Kane
as Headwaiter
George Irving
as Admirers at Club
Mary Forbes
as Admirers at Club
Edward Keane
as Admirers at Club
Etienne Girardot
as J.K. Brown
Guy Usher
as Judge McAffee
Wade Boteler
as Detective
Show More Cast

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Critic Reviews for Born to Be Bad

All Critics (1)

Even by standards of Depression melodramas, this banal woman's picture, about a single mom forced to give up her son to guardian parents, further suffers from a weak perfromance by Cary Grant and unconvincing one from Loretta Young.

Full Review… | February 11, 2006

Audience Reviews for Born to Be Bad


An early attempt on Grant's part, most of the film is less of an actual film and more of a cautionary tale for the nymphets and flappers still left over from the roaring twenties. At least the film is carried on the backs of two of the best stars of the day. Old Hollywood legends Cary Grant and Loretta Young are the main reason to watch this venture, not for any superb performances, because neither shines in this dour picture. Grant is still wet behind the ears, having followed Mae West around like a lovesick puppy in his last two films, and was completely wrong for the part of the golden boy philanthropist with a bendable will. Loretta, as the loving mother with a bad girl streak, is perfectly in her element but falls flat with extremely lax dialogue and ridiculous supporting characters. The financial aspect of the film, which is part of the plot, makes no sense, and the fact that she's a mother makes even less sense. The film feels cut up and censored, and most of the more mature themes are so watered down and ill used that it's little more than a morality tale. It's short, and mind numbingly self-indulgent, soapy and melodramatic, and there's little to this film except some early examples of Grant and Young's acting. Easy to miss, I assure you.

Spencer S.

Super Reviewer

Bad acting (yes, even The Mr. Cary Grant - it was before he found his style). Bad filming. Cliched and ill-paced story.

Jennifer D

Super Reviewer


How can you judge a woman as fit to be a mother or not? This movie doesn't discuss this question even though it really should. Personally I didn't think Young was a horrible mother in this movie, she treated her son well. I didn't like the ending either.

Aj V

Super Reviewer

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