Born to Be Bad (1950)

93-94 mins | Drama | 15 July 1950

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HISTORY

Working titles for this film were Christabel Caine , All Kneeling and Bed of Roses . As indicated in the file on the film in the MPAA/PCA Collection at the AMPAS Library, two endings were shot for the film. In the first version, which was submitted for PCA approval on 13 Sep 1949, the picture concludes when "Christabel" leaves "Curtis'" house with only a few furs. The second ending, which was submitted for approval on 8 Aug 1950, included the scene in which "Donna" and "Curtis" reunite, as well as the car crash scene and subsequent scandal scenes. Although the second ending appears to have been used in 1950 release prints, the first ending was seen in the viewed print. Gordon Oliver's cast credit was not included in the viewed print, but was listed in a 1950 cutting continuity deposited with the copyright records.
       The PCA file also indicates that, although early drafts of the story were approved by the Breen Office, later versions caused objections because of the "implication of illicit sex which is treated without the proper compensating moral values." Although no significant changes were made in the story, the script was finally approved in Jun 1949, as was the revised ending in Aug 1950. In a 13 Sep 1950 letter to PCA director Joseph I. Breen, however, Martin Quigley, the influential, conservative president of Quigley Publishing Company, complained that the revised ending, which he noted was ordered by RKO head Howard Hughes, was morally unacceptable because the "dame" is not punished, but is seen "nicely getting away with it." In response, Breen reassured Quigley that his ... More Less

Working titles for this film were Christabel Caine , All Kneeling and Bed of Roses . As indicated in the file on the film in the MPAA/PCA Collection at the AMPAS Library, two endings were shot for the film. In the first version, which was submitted for PCA approval on 13 Sep 1949, the picture concludes when "Christabel" leaves "Curtis'" house with only a few furs. The second ending, which was submitted for approval on 8 Aug 1950, included the scene in which "Donna" and "Curtis" reunite, as well as the car crash scene and subsequent scandal scenes. Although the second ending appears to have been used in 1950 release prints, the first ending was seen in the viewed print. Gordon Oliver's cast credit was not included in the viewed print, but was listed in a 1950 cutting continuity deposited with the copyright records.
       The PCA file also indicates that, although early drafts of the story were approved by the Breen Office, later versions caused objections because of the "implication of illicit sex which is treated without the proper compensating moral values." Although no significant changes were made in the story, the script was finally approved in Jun 1949, as was the revised ending in Aug 1950. In a 13 Sep 1950 letter to PCA director Joseph I. Breen, however, Martin Quigley, the influential, conservative president of Quigley Publishing Company, complained that the revised ending, which he noted was ordered by RKO head Howard Hughes, was morally unacceptable because the "dame" is not punished, but is seen "nicely getting away with it." In response, Breen reassured Quigley that his office and RKO were headed for a "grand crash." In addition, in Nov 1949, Var reported that because of pressure from the National Legion of Decency, RKO withdrew its foreign version of Born to Be Bad , which the Legion considered to be "more morally offensive" than the domestic version, and replaced it overseas with the domestic version. Modern sources note that the reunion scene between Donna and Curtis, which takes place after Curtis is seen flying by himself in a small airplane, was rewritten by Hughes. Modern sources also claim that while Nicholas Ray directed some of the rewritten material in 1950, Robert Stevenson reshot the hospital scene and Richard O. Fleischer directed the scene in the prison hospital.
       Contemporary news items add the following information about the production: Pre-production on the picture began in late 1945. At that time, William Pereira was to produce the film, and Paul Stewart was to direct it. Alan Marshal, who was to be borrowed from David O. Selznick's company, was slated to co-star with Joan Fontaine, and Marsha Hunt, a featured player at M-G-M, was to have a supporting role. In mid-Jan 1946, Stewart was removed as director, and John Sutton was hired to replace Marshal. Paramount director John Berry was hired in late Feb 1946, and Henry Fonda was announced as Fontaine's new co-star in mid-Mar 1946. According to modern sources, Edmund Goulding, John Hambleton and Shepard Traube were also assigned to direct before Ray was finally chosen in May 1949.
       Modern sources also note that in 1948, RKO contract star Gloria Grahame was being considered for the film's lead, but was rejected by studio head Howard Hughes, who then ordered an indefinite delay in production. Modern sources also claim that Barbara Bel Geddes was considered for the title role. In addition to Marshal and Sutton, other male leads under consideration were Ronald Reagan, David Niven, Dan Duryea, Vincent Price, George Sanders and Franchot Tone, according to modern sources. RKO borrowed Zachary Scott from Warner Bros. for the production. Joan Leslie returned to the screen after a two-year absence to co-star in the film. According to LAT , the portraits seen in Born to Be Bad were painted by Ernst Van Leyden, who also was a technical advisor on the picture. Wood sculptures, which were also featured in the film, were created by "GI-bill students" Jack Horton and Bennett Wade, according to the same item.
       According to modern sources, Hughes's action in regard to this film contributed to RKO production chief Dore Schary's decision to leave the studio. Modern sources give the following additional credits: Dir of photog for addl scenes : Clifford Stine, Harry J. Wild and Robert de Grasse; Sd for addl scene : Earl B. Mounce; and Dial dir : Rodney Amateau . Additional cast members from modern sources include Jane Hedges ( Lawyer's secretary ), Sam Harris ( Old man at ball ), J. Park, M. Russell, John Holland, Russell Fillman, Perc Launders, Stan Holbrook and Ted Cooper. More Less

BIBLIOGRAPHIC SOURCES
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
26 Aug 1950.
---
Daily Variety
22 Aug 50
p. 3.
Film Daily
22 Aug 50
p. 5.
Hollywood Reporter
13 Apr 1945.
---
Hollywood Reporter
1 Nov 45
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
2 Nov 45
p. 9.
Hollywood Reporter
10 Dec 45
p. 14.
Hollywood Reporter
4 Jan 46
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
16 Jan 46
p. 14.
Hollywood Reporter
20 Feb 46
p. 1.
Hollywood Reporter
15 Mar 46
p. 1.
Hollywood Reporter
6 Jun 49
p. 1.
Hollywood Reporter
17 Jun 49
p. 16.
Hollywood Reporter
20 Jun 49
p. 9.
Hollywood Reporter
21 Jul 49
p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter
29 Jul 49
p. 10.
Hollywood Reporter
22 Aug 50
p. 3.
Los Angeles Times
28 Aug 46
p. 6.
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest
26 Aug 50
pp. 449-50.
New York Times
29 Sep 50
p. 31.
Variety
23 Aug 50
p. 8.
Variety
29 Nov 1950.
---
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Asst dir
PRODUCERS
Exec prod
WRITERS
Addl dial
Contr to scr constr
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
Cam op
ART DIRECTORS
Art dir
FILM EDITOR
SET DECORATORS
Set dec
Set dec
COSTUMES
Joan Fontaine's gowns by
Joan Leslie's gowns by
MAKEUP
Makeup supv
Hairstylist
PRODUCTION MISC
Tech adv
Scr supv
Pub wrt
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the novel All Kneeling by Anne Parrish (New York, 1928).
AUTHOR
DETAILS
Alternate Titles:
Christabel Caine
Bed of Roses
All Kneeling
Release Date:
15 July 1950
Production Date:
20 June--late July 1949
Copyright Claimant:
RKO Radio Pictures, inc.
Copyright Date:
27 August 1950
Copyright Number:
LP366
Physical Properties:
Sound
RCA Sound System
Black and White
Duration(in mins):
93-94
Length(in feet):
8,440
Country:
United States
PCA No:
13949
SYNOPSIS

On the day that she is to host a society party for her artist friend, Gabriel "Gobby" Broome, Donna Foster, a publisher's assistant, is forced to deal with the early arrival of her boss John Caine's niece, Christabel. Christabel, who was reared by her poor maiden aunt, Clara Caine, in the small town of Santa Flora, has come to live with Donna in San Francisco and attend business college. When the fresh-faced Christabel meets Donna's fiancé, wealthy Curtis Carey, she immediately begins a fawning flirtation with him. In turn, aspiring novelist Nick Bradley, with whom Donna has been working, takes an instant liking to Christabel. Although Nick quickly observes that Christabel is "two people," a nice, unaffected girl, and an ambitious, cunning woman, he nonetheless continues to desire her. Later, Christabel, who has quit school, is having her portrait painted by Gobby when Curtis telephones, asking her to meet him at a jewelry store. Breaking a date with Nick, Christabel rushes to Curtis' side, but is disappointed to discover that he merely wants her advice on buying an engagement present for Donna. Christabel tries to convince Curtis to give the down-to-earth Donna a cheap cameo, but Curtis finally chooses an expensive sapphire-studded necklace. Donna is thrilled by the necklace until Christabel acts sweetly surprised that she would enjoy such a lavish gift. The now-fretful Donna later confides in Nick her concerns that Curtis may suspect her of marrying him for his money. Nick, whose first novel is about to be published by John, reassures Donna about her engagement, but at Gobby's art opening, Curtis confesses to Christabel his fears that Donna is becoming ... +


On the day that she is to host a society party for her artist friend, Gabriel "Gobby" Broome, Donna Foster, a publisher's assistant, is forced to deal with the early arrival of her boss John Caine's niece, Christabel. Christabel, who was reared by her poor maiden aunt, Clara Caine, in the small town of Santa Flora, has come to live with Donna in San Francisco and attend business college. When the fresh-faced Christabel meets Donna's fiancé, wealthy Curtis Carey, she immediately begins a fawning flirtation with him. In turn, aspiring novelist Nick Bradley, with whom Donna has been working, takes an instant liking to Christabel. Although Nick quickly observes that Christabel is "two people," a nice, unaffected girl, and an ambitious, cunning woman, he nonetheless continues to desire her. Later, Christabel, who has quit school, is having her portrait painted by Gobby when Curtis telephones, asking her to meet him at a jewelry store. Breaking a date with Nick, Christabel rushes to Curtis' side, but is disappointed to discover that he merely wants her advice on buying an engagement present for Donna. Christabel tries to convince Curtis to give the down-to-earth Donna a cheap cameo, but Curtis finally chooses an expensive sapphire-studded necklace. Donna is thrilled by the necklace until Christabel acts sweetly surprised that she would enjoy such a lavish gift. The now-fretful Donna later confides in Nick her concerns that Curtis may suspect her of marrying him for his money. Nick, whose first novel is about to be published by John, reassures Donna about her engagement, but at Gobby's art opening, Curtis confesses to Christabel his fears that Donna is becoming obsessed with his wealth. Acting the part of the concerned friend, Christabel suggests that Curtis draw up a pre-nuptial agreement with Donna. When Curtis mentions Christabel's idea to Donna, she is deeply hurt at his implied mistrust. Later that night, after Curtis insists on buying Christabel's portrait, Donna accuses Christabel of selfish subterfuge and reveals that her engagement has been broken. Seeing her opportunity, Christabel begs her now-suspicious uncle to allow her to stay in San Francisco long enough to attend a charity ball that Curtis is sponsoring. At the ball, Christabel acts guilt-ridden, then confesses her attraction to Curtis, who returns her affection. When Christabel tells Nick, who earlier had proposed to her, that she is marrying Curtis, he remarks that, despite his rival's wealth, she will never be satisfied with him. After a despondent Nick moves to Boston, Christabel and Curtis marry, and Christabel throws herself into her social duties, heading up charitable committees and planning balls. At the same time, Christabel connives to have Clara, who has been living with her since her marriage, shipped back to Santa Flora as she fears that the frail woman will discourage Curtis from spending money on her. Christabel's constant social activity causes Curtis to question her devotion to him, and, sensing that she is still interested in Nick, who has returned to San Francisco, he insists that they go together to a weekend resort. Although Christabel pretends to endorse Curtis' plan, she slips away from the resort as soon as possible, leaving a note claiming that Clara, who she knows is ill, needs her in Santa Flora. Instead, Christabel meets secretly with Nick to rekindle their romance. When Nick realizes that Christabel wants only to have an affair with him, however, he denounces her as incurably selfish. Rejected by Nick, Christabel returns home, only to be caught in her lies by Curtis and John, who reveals that Clara died earlier that afternoon. His eyes finally opened, Curtis demands that Christabel leave with only a few furs to her name. While speeding away from the house, Christabel crashes her car and ends up in a hospital. She soon becomes involved with her surgeon, whose wife sues her for alienation of affection. Later, after Curtis and Donna reunite, Christabel sees a lawyer about the lawsuit and, as indicated by the rising price tag on her portrait, causes yet another juicy scandal. +

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

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The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.