12 May 2010

Born To Kill

A bizarre story (that often defies logic) of two bitter white trash souls, desperately seeking entry into *polite society.* Storied Hollywood thug Lawrence Tierney plays not-so-subtly named Sam Wild, an astonishingly arrogant, insanely jealous and paranoid prototype metrosexual killer (think Patrick Bateman's roughneck grandpa) who enters a twisted love/hate relationship with Helen Brent, a life-long charity case tired of living off the scraps of her wealthy foster sister.

There's no point in hashing out the plot, other than to say Sam Wild will murder you even if just your shadow gets in his way, and his homicidal charm really gets Helen wet between her legs. Helen's almost as cold-blooded as Wild, as she tells one character who threatens to turn over to the police incriminating information about Wild:

I'm just warning you. Perhaps you don't realize - it's painful being killed. A piece of metal sliding into your body, finding its way into your heart. Or a bullet tearing through your skin, crashing into a bone. It takes a while to die, too. Sometimes a long while.

Sam and Helen are like two roaches feeding off each others dead souls, and their sick relationship ends in chalk outlines. Ignore the two-bit Grand Guignol plot and enjoy this weird little flick for the demented characters, which include not only Sam and Helen, but a couple of noteworthy nuts among the supporting players. Elisha Cook Jr., plays Marty, Sam's faithful (but unexplained) man servant. There's definitely something queer about the relationship between Sam and Marty. Marty follows Sam everywhere, always trying to calm down his hot-tempered big buddy--why? Dunno--other than it's certainly queer. Anyway, Little Elisha delivers this classic line, shortly after one of Sam's impromptu murders:

You can't just go around killing people whenever the notion strikes you. It's not feasible.

Esther Howard
plays Mrs. Kraft, the buttinsky friend of one of Sam's murder victims. Howard is real riot as the bug-eyed, loud-mouthed slovenly gadfly who tries to put Sam behind bars, in between her numerous beer drinking marathons.

Enjoyed on its freak show terms, Born To Kill is an amusingly twisted little tale that still packs a heavy punch sixty-three years after it first crawled out of the cinema sewer.


  1. Personally, I don't think there was a homosexual relationship between Marty and Sam. However, it is a popular viewpoint. There are rumours that Elisha Cook Jr. was gay in real life.

    I love your statement: "Sam and Helen are like two roaches feeding off each others dead souls." They are both narcissistic and soulless. I wrote a short essay on the film called "Why Women Love Bad Boys." If you would like to read it, here is the link: https://christopherjohnlindsay.wordpress.com/2014/03/19/born-to-kill/

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