Born to Be Bad

Overview

One of the most oft-revived of the pre-Technicolor Nicholas Ray efforts, Born to Be Bad offers us the spectacle of Joan Fontaine portraying a character described as "a cross between Lucrezia Borgia and Peg O' My Heart." For the benefit of her wealthy husband Zachary Scott and his family, Fontaine adopts a facade of wide-eyed sweetness. Bored with her hubby, she inaugurates a romance with novelist Robert Ryan. All her carefully crafted calculations come acropper when both men discover that she's a bitch among ...
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Overview

One of the most oft-revived of the pre-Technicolor Nicholas Ray efforts, Born to Be Bad offers us the spectacle of Joan Fontaine portraying a character described as "a cross between Lucrezia Borgia and Peg O' My Heart." For the benefit of her wealthy husband Zachary Scott and his family, Fontaine adopts a facade of wide-eyed sweetness. Bored with her hubby, she inaugurates a romance with novelist Robert Ryan. All her carefully crafted calculations come acropper when both men discover that she's a bitch among bitches. She might have gotten away with all her machinations, but the censors said uh-uh. Originally slated for filming in 1946, with Henry Fonda scheduled to play the Robert Ryan part, Born to Bad was cancelled, then resurfaced as Bed as Roses in 1948, this time with Barbara Bel Geddes in the Fontaine role. RKO head Howard Hughes' decision to replace Bel Geddes with the more bankable Fontaine was one of the reasons that producer Dore Schary left RKO in favor of MGM. Based on Anne Parrish's novel All Kneeling, Born to be Bad is so overheated at times that it threatens to lapse into self-parody; though this never happens, the film was the basis for one of TV star Carol Burnett's funniest and most devastating movie takeoffs, Raised to be Rotten.
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Editorial Reviews

All Movie Guide - Craig Butler
Although it's hardly a great movie, Born to Be Bad is a lot of fun ' if one is in the mood for a bitchy, campy, over-the-top melodrama. Bad has little time to waste on subtlety; it's much more concerned with celebrating its "bad girl" protagonist, and in presenting its soap in the most operatic terms possible. Indeed, the screenplay that has been crafted from Anne Parrish's book is one line of memorable dialogue after another - sometimes memorably good, sometimes memorably bad, but always out to make an impression. Nicholas Ray's direction is similarly heated; it's not his best work by a long shot, but it still has that distinctive Ray flavor to it, and he finds some interesting camera angles to add some aesthetic interest to the trashy goings-on. Unfortunately, there's not a lot he can do with leading lady Joan Fontaine, who is cast against type ' to her and the film's detriment. Although Fontaine's performance is fun on a campy level, she's never remotely believable (and not just because she's ten years too old for the part), and some of her mannerisms are actively annoying. Her two "love" interests are better; neither Robert Ryan nor Zachary Scott turns in a great performance, but they do what is asked of them. Better is Mel Ferrer, who has fun with his closeted character; even better is Joan Leslie, whose understated, lovely performance is far and away the best in the film. Fortunately, artistic considerations are beside the point with Bad. It's really just the kind of film that one should sit back, put questions of artistry aside and just enjoy for its over-the-top fun.
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Product Details

  • Release Date: 8/21/2012
  • UPC: 883316574881
  • Original Release: 1950
  • Rating:

  • Source: Warner Archives
  • Presentation: Pan & Scan
  • Language: English
  • Format: DVD
  • Sales rank: 31,101

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Joan Fontaine Christabel Caine
Robert Ryan Nick
Zachary Scott Curtis
Joan Leslie Donna
Mel Ferrer Gobby
Harold Vermilyea John Caine
Virginia Farmer Aunt Clara
Kathleen Howard Mrs. Bolton
Dick Ryan Arthur
Bess Flowers Mrs. Worthington
Joy Hallward Mrs. Porter
Hazel Boyne Committee Woman
Irving Bacon Jewelry Salesman
Gordon Oliver Lawyer
Frank Arnold Man at Art Gallery
Barry Brooks Man
Ann Burr Schoolgirl
Jack Chefe Man
Homer Dickenson Art Gallery Attendant
Donald Dillaway Photographer
Major Sam Harris Old Man at Ball
Bobby Johnson Kenneth
Ray Johnson Guest
Peggy Leon Caine's Secretary
Sam Lufkin Taxi Driver
John Mitchum Guest
Al Murphy Man
Technical Credits
Nicholas Ray Director
Constantin Bakaleinikoff Musical Direction/Supervision
Gordon Bau Makeup
Phil Brigandi Sound/Sound Designer
Albert S. D'Agostino Production Designer
Fred Fleck Asst. Director
Frederick Hollander Score Composer
Frederic Knudtson Editor
Harley Miller Set Decoration/Design
Nick Musuraca Cinematographer
Jack Okey Production Designer
George Oppenheimer Screenwriter
Sid Rogell Executive Producer
Charles Schnee Screenwriter
Darrell Silvera Set Decoration/Design
Robert W. Soderberg Screenwriter
Edith R. Sommer Screenwriter
Robert Sparks Producer
Clifford Stine Cinematographer
Harry J. Wild Cinematographer
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