Monday, September 01, 2008

Tonight's Movie: Born to Be Bad (1934)

Letty Strong (Loretta Young) will do anything to get ahead, including taking part in fraud and blackmail, and she is teaching her young son to do the same. Letty was BORN TO BE BAD.

BORN TO BE BAD costars Cary Grant as a wealthy man interested in adopting Letty's son after Letty is declared an unfit mother. Handsome Grant doesn't have a great deal to do, other than alternate between looking kind and tortured; it's Young's film all the way, as the gum-chewing, tough-talking dame who ultimately may come between Grant and his wife (Marion Burns) and have Grant, his money, and her son all to herself.

Those who envision Young as she appeared with Grant in THE BISHOP'S WIFE will have quite a surprise in store when they experience the pre-Code Loretta. Her early '30s performances are quite different from roles she played later in her career. Links to reviews of several of Young's pre-Code films can be found at the end of my review of her film WEEK-END MARRIAGE (1932).

BORN TO BE BAD was released in the final weeks of the pre-Code era, and it's surprisingly frank at times, though not by modern standards. Like many pre-Code films, it's short (62 minutes) and fast-paced. The movie is fairly soapy hokum, redeemed by the fact that the fascinating Young is on screen virtually the entire movie.

BORN TO BE BAD was directed by Lowell Sherman. The supporting cast includes Henry Travers and Jackie Kelk. Kelk, who plays Loretta's obnoxious son, was actually about 10 when the film was made, and looks like it, so it's a surprise when his age is given in the film as 7.

BORN TO BE BAD is available on DVD. The minimal extras include a few production stills and a gallery of Cary Grant trailers, although not one for BORN TO BE BAD.

Glenn Erickson has reviewed the DVD at DVD Savant.

BORN TO BE BAD isn't art, but it's interesting enough to be a worthwhile hour for fans of Young and Grant.


Blogger windycorner said...

If it's Cary Grant, it's got to be good!
What about the crazy stuff going on in the press around Sarah Palin? Are they unhinged or what?
What fun!

9:00 AM  

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