Lively, entertaining reviews of, and essays on, old and newer films and everything relating to them, written by professional author William Schoell.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008


BORN TO BE BAD (1950). Directed by Nicholas Ray.

Joan Fontaine is Christable Caine, a scheming blonde who steals away the wealthy fiancĂ© (Zachary Scott) of a friend, Donna (Joan Leslie), but who dallies with her true love, Robert Ryan, even after her marriage. A part that seems tailor-made for Bette Davis or Joan Crawford – even Barbara Stanwyck – works beautifully with the less "bitchy" (but equally talented) Fontaine because she’s able to exude an innocence that makes her conniving ways seem even more atrocious. She sends her lonely and loving aunt away even though Scott is happy to have her in his home, and refuses to go see her when she’s ill because of a party. Ryan, playing a novelist on the verge of success who can’t compete financially with Scott, gets some of the best lines. Regarding Scott (after he marries Fontaine) he says, "How can anyone be happy with a hook in his throat?" and says to Christabel "I love you so much I wish I liked you!" Mel Ferrer plays Gobby, a painter who may have been intended to be a gay character, based on certain remarks he makes about his "harmlessness" to wives and his complete lack of interest in the women in the cast (although he paints Fontaine’s portrait he exudes absolutely no romantic or sexual interest in her). When a man pokes his head into the gallery where Gobby’s paintings are exhibited, and rapidly retreats, Ferrer yells after him "Peasant!" This is a pretty classy, entertaining, well-acted soaper, it’s only deficit being the fact that the characterizations are rather superficial. RKO.

Verdict: Watchable and well-acted. **1/2.

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