Born to Kill (1947)

92 mins | Film noir | 3 May 1947

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HISTORY

The working title of this film was Deadlier Than the Male . According to a HR news items, Tallulah Bankhead was first considered for the role of "Helen Brent." HR also noted that some scenes for the picture were shot in San Francisco and at El Segundo beach in Southern California. According to information contained in the MPAA/PCA files at AMPAS, PCA director Joseph I. Breen described this film as "the kind of story which ought not to be made because it is a story of gross lust and shocking brutality, and ruthlessness." To win PCA approval of the script, RKO toned down the violence of some scenes and made clear to the audience that Lawrence Tierney's character was ... More Less

The working title of this film was Deadlier Than the Male . According to a HR news items, Tallulah Bankhead was first considered for the role of "Helen Brent." HR also noted that some scenes for the picture were shot in San Francisco and at El Segundo beach in Southern California. According to information contained in the MPAA/PCA files at AMPAS, PCA director Joseph I. Breen described this film as "the kind of story which ought not to be made because it is a story of gross lust and shocking brutality, and ruthlessness." To win PCA approval of the script, RKO toned down the violence of some scenes and made clear to the audience that Lawrence Tierney's character was insane. More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
26 Apr 1947.
---
Daily Variety
16 Apr 1947.
---
Film Daily
17 Apr 47
p. 7.
Hollywood Reporter
28 Sep 45
p. 1.
Hollywood Reporter
10 May 46
p. 10.
Hollywood Reporter
14 May 46
p. 5.
Hollywood Reporter
17 May 46
p. 13.
Hollywood Reporter
21 Jun 46
p. 16.
Hollywood Reporter
16 Apr 47
p. 3.
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest
19 Apr 1947.
---
New York Times
1 May 47
p. 34.
Variety
16 Apr 47
p. 20.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Asst dir
PRODUCERS
Exec prod
WRITERS
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
ART DIRECTORS
FILM EDITOR
Film ed
SET DECORATORS
Set dec
Set dec
COSTUMES
MUSIC
Mus dir
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec eff
PRODUCTION MISC
Unit publicist
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the novel Deadlier Than the Male by James Gunn (New York, 1943).
AUTHOR
DETAILS
Alternate Title:
Deadlier Than the Male
Release Date:
3 May 1947
Production Date:
early May--late June 1946
Copyright Claimant:
RKO Radio Pictures, Inc.
Copyright Date:
19 April 1947
Copyright Number:
LP988
Physical Properties:
Sound
RCA Sound System
Black and White
Duration(in mins):
92
Length(in feet):
8,273
Country:
United States
PCA No:
11703
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

After he discovers that Laury Palmer, the owner of a Reno boardinghouse, was romancing him only to make her boyfriend Danny jealous, Sam Wilde, a seductive but violent drifter, kills both her and Danny. Cool, sophisticated Helen Brent finds the bodies in the boardinghouse, where she has been living during her divorce proceedings, but instead of notifying the police, she calmly boards the next train to San Francisco. Also on board the train is Sam, who begins a rough flirtation with Helen and wisely observes that he is "going in the same direction" as she. Although Helen discourages the ambitious Sam from seeing her in San Francisco, he tracks her to her half sister Georgia Staples' mansion and there is introduced to Fred Grover, Helen's wealthy fiancé. After Helen tells Georgia about her gruesome discovery in Reno, she, Georgia, Fred and Sam dine together. As soon as he is alone with Helen, Sam accuses her of wanting to marry Fred for his money, and she freely admits that she is tired of playing Georgia's "poor relation." When Sam smugly insinuates that he could make Helen break the engagement if he wanted, she balks, stating firmly that no one can come between her and the security of Fred's money. In response, Sam flirts aggressively with the impressionable Georgia and, later that night, telephones his confidant, Marty Waterman, in Reno to announce that he will soon be marrying Georgia. As predicted, Sam becomes engaged to Georgia. He is unaware, however, that a private investigator, Albert Arnett, has been hired by Mrs. Kraft, the alcoholic proprietress of Laury's boardinghouse, to discover Laury's killer, and ... +


After he discovers that Laury Palmer, the owner of a Reno boardinghouse, was romancing him only to make her boyfriend Danny jealous, Sam Wilde, a seductive but violent drifter, kills both her and Danny. Cool, sophisticated Helen Brent finds the bodies in the boardinghouse, where she has been living during her divorce proceedings, but instead of notifying the police, she calmly boards the next train to San Francisco. Also on board the train is Sam, who begins a rough flirtation with Helen and wisely observes that he is "going in the same direction" as she. Although Helen discourages the ambitious Sam from seeing her in San Francisco, he tracks her to her half sister Georgia Staples' mansion and there is introduced to Fred Grover, Helen's wealthy fiancé. After Helen tells Georgia about her gruesome discovery in Reno, she, Georgia, Fred and Sam dine together. As soon as he is alone with Helen, Sam accuses her of wanting to marry Fred for his money, and she freely admits that she is tired of playing Georgia's "poor relation." When Sam smugly insinuates that he could make Helen break the engagement if he wanted, she balks, stating firmly that no one can come between her and the security of Fred's money. In response, Sam flirts aggressively with the impressionable Georgia and, later that night, telephones his confidant, Marty Waterman, in Reno to announce that he will soon be marrying Georgia. As predicted, Sam becomes engaged to Georgia. He is unaware, however, that a private investigator, Albert Arnett, has been hired by Mrs. Kraft, the alcoholic proprietress of Laury's boardinghouse, to discover Laury's killer, and has tracked Marty to Helen and Georgia's home. After the wedding ceremony, a confused, jealous Helen argues with Sam about her sister, whom she both loves and resents, and ends up in his arms. She then throws out Arnett, who is posing as a hungry vagrant in order to snoop around the house, and dismisses his insinuations about Sam's past. A few weeks later, Sam and Georgia return home early from their honeymoon, having fought over Sam's desire to run the newspaper that Georgia inherited from her father. That night, Sam finds Helen alone in the kitchen and, after describing her as his "soul mate," kisses her passionately. Sam then compliments her on the calm way she acted in Reno, and as he begins to describe the murder scene in detail, Helen realizes that Sam is, in fact, the killer. Helen immediately telephones Arnett to arrange a meeting, unaware that Sam is listening in on the extension. To protect Sam, Helen tries to buy Arnett's silence for $5,000, but he demands $15,000. When Helen returns home, she is confronted by a jealous Sam, but finally convinces him that Arnett is only interested in her money. Sam and Marty plot to kill Mrs. Kraft, who has come to San Francisco, but when Marty goes to Helen's bedroom to warn her about Sam's violent nature, Sam assumes he is flirting with her and kills him as he is about to kill Mrs. Kraft. The next morning, Helen provides Sam with an alibi when the police question her about Marty, then tells Mrs. Kraft that unless she drops her investigation, she will be terrorized and killed. Although she calls Helen the coldest woman she has ever met, Mrs. Kraft agrees to end her pursuit. Later, Helen admits to Sam that she is "doing it all for him," but is devastated when Fred finally breaks their engagement. A suddenly remorseful Helen then tells Georgia the truth about Sam and forces her to eavesdrop while she makes plans with Sam to run away. Just then, the police, who have been tipped off by Arnett, arrive at the house, and assuming that Helen has double-crossed him, Sam tries to shoot her. Helen flees upstairs and locks herself in a bedroom, but Sam shoots at her through the door as the police storm the house. After Sam is shot and killed by the police, Helen dies of her wounds. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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