Robert Wise’s Born To Kill (1947) is a brooding, though sadly underrated, film noir masterpiece. It stars Lawrence Tierney (equally forgotten) as the aptly named Sam Wilde. Seems Sam has killed Laurie Palmer (Isabel Jewell), the girl he supposedly loved when she and a new boyfriend decided to step out on the town.
The body is discovered by Helen Brent (Claire Trevor), a woman finalizing her Reno divorce and co-habiting at the boarding house where Laurie stayed. However, in typical noir style, Helen doesn’t phone the police. Instead, she packs her bags and bolts for the train station where she meets – guess who…Sam.
The two flirt endlessly. But Sam ends up marrying Helen’s sister, Georgia (Audrey Long) instead. Now, Helen puts her thinking cap on. After all, hell hath no fury like any woman scored. She begins to piece together the events leading up to Laurie’s murder and then, just as insidiously, attempts to finagle her way into Sam’s bed.
Director, Wise keeps the thrills taut and tense fast moving and ever changing. This is one exceptionally underrated film that definitely deserves everyone’s second glance.
Warner Home Video’s DVD has been impressively mastered. The main titles exhibit some minor edge enhancement, but the rest of the image is quite free of digital anomalies. Instead, the B&W grayscale is smooth and easy on the eyes with a minimal amount of grain and age related artifacts. The audio is mono but very well represented. Extras are limited to a thorough audio commentary and the film’s theatrical trailer. Bottom line: highly recommended.
FILM RATING (out of 5 - 5 being the best)