Born to Be Bad (1950)

Born to Be Bad (1950)
Born to Be Bad (1950) Born to Be Bad (1950)
Running Time: 94 Minutes
Dir. Nicholas Ray
Cast: Joan Fontaine, Robert Ryan, Joan Leslie, Mel Ferrer
Genre: Drama, Film-Noir

Screening Time: Monday, August 21st at 8:50 p.m.

Storyline
Behind an innocent exterior, a ruthless woman gets her own way by manipulating those around her (sound familiar?) but eventually reveals her true self.

4 Comments

  1. IMDBReviewer

    March 24, 2017 at 10:49 pm

    After years of watching films and studying their art for my own pleasure, I’ve decided that some of the most interesting and least appreciated movies are those released under the RKO logo. Born to be Bad is a prime example. Made in 1948-49 (not released until ’50) under the aegis of Howard Hughes while he was alternately pursuing and manipulating Joan Fontaine, this movie has a unique, non -studio look. Very little location work was done, but doesn’t it feel like San Francisco (more than Vertigo!). Literate script, intelligent casting, stylish sets and costumes (New York designer Hattie Carnegie for Fontaine, RKO in-house man Michael Woulfe for Joan Leslie) add up to an engrossing, adult 90 minutes. Speaking of adult; there’s been some comments here about the Mel Ferrer character: "Is he or isn’t he gay?" IS THERE ANY DOUBT? And check out one scene, unbelievably adult for 1950 Hollywood: When Fontaine returns home after a torrid sexual encounter with Robert Ryan, she quickly takes a hot bath before husband Zachary Scott returns home. Scent of another man? Pretty hot stuff in retrospect. Check this movie out when you get the opportunity!

  2. Anonymous

    March 24, 2017 at 10:49 pm

    `Born to be Bad’ is a great melodrama from 1950 directed by Nicholas Ray and starring the normally genteel Joan Fontaine. In this film however, Fontaine plays Christabel, a young socialite who purports to be an earnest and innocent woman, yet has a pretty insidious duplicitous nature. (Think a slightly less deranged Eve Harrington) Throughout the course of the film, Christabel connives her way into winning the heart of a wealthy man who was previously betrothed to the woman who took her in to her home and introduced her to society as well as love and throw away a famous writer who she seems to actually have feelings for, yet cannot give up the allure of marrying for money.

    The great thing about `Born to be Bad’ is that no matter what happens to her, Christabel is pretty unrepentant, even up until the very end. This is somewhat varied from the great melodramas of the 30’s-50’s, where the `evil man/woman’ sees the error in their ways, or gets their comeuppance. Nicholas Ray of course went on to direct the classics `Johnny Guitar’ and `Rebel Without a Cause’, the very model from which teen angst films stemmed, but `Born to be Bad’ is a pretty simple film that has a lot of good scene-chewing scenes. I particularly enjoyed watching Fontaine practically get whiplash every time one of her men would grab her and kiss her with fervent passion; it’s just that cheesy and good. `Born to be Bad’ is another fine example of why the melodramas of this era play so much better than any of that genre today, and even in the last couple of decades – it is intelligent, with a great script and even better acting, and is just simply fun to watch.

    –Shelly

  3. Anonymous

    March 24, 2017 at 10:49 pm

    Nicholas Ray’s career remains unique in its peaks and valleys, but his work has never been dull. Even A WOMAN’S SECRET stirs memories, notably from the performance of his then-wife Gloria Grahame. BORN TO BE BAD is an "almost" — its depiction of the New York theatrical lifestyle on on-target, down to the living quarters. And its characters ring true. Still, the plot, if taken apart, is a muddle in the middle. Nonetheless, Ray has provided strong mise en scene, and offered an underrated star like JOAN LESLIE an opportunity to show how truthful and relaxed a performer she was. Her performance is almost equalled by that of MEL FERRER as the "probably-gay" character. In her role, JOAN FONTAINE, an excellent actress, is able to convey the seven-faced facets of a woman who misuses friendships, romance, and opportunity… all for her benefit. ROBERT RYAN, as ever, offers a solid performance though his character is far less defined. and ZACHARY SCOTT does well too. Ray’s use of camera angles, lighting, etal. may seem commonplace, but there is careful use of everything involved. But what is remembered, when all is said and done, is the work of JOAN LESLIE as the put-upon fiance. It is performances like hers that are ignored… but that are enormously difficult to bring across accurately. Hers is the pilot light that keeps BORN TO BE BAD intriguing.

  4. Anonymous

    March 24, 2017 at 10:49 pm

    If you’ve enjoyed Joan Fontaine’s endearing performances in REBECCA or SUSPICION, check out this movie for an entirely different turn of character.

    Joan plays Christabel, a woman with nice curves who’s got all the angles, too. She’s a classic manipulator, and the fun of the movie is watching her try to keep up her false appearances as she runs recklessly through the lives around her — society friends, sick relatives, a thin-mustached rich playboy, and the rugged novelist guy who sees through her and loves her still.

    The performance is one of shifting eyes, deceptive wheels turning inside the lovely Christabel’s head, trying to recall which lie she told to whom. Fontaine retains a sense of mystery about her, because you keep wondering to what end is all this manipulation, anyway — does Christabel even know? A consummate liar, she also remains a bit sympathetic through it all: you get the sense of someone who has played so many contradictory roles that she’s kind of a lost soul.

    As for the story itself, it’s pretty good; and the supporting characters are merely okay. But really, they’re just pins set up for Christabel to upset. Sit back and watch her go.

    So, if you’re like me and wanted to reach out and protect Joan in her Hitchcock movies, try BORN TO BE BAD. She’s just as lovely (those doe-eyes will make you want to believe her) — only hold onto your heart, and your wallet.

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