Born to Kill (1947, Robert Wise)

screened Monday, January 8 2007 on DVD in Brooklyn, NY IMDb

Surprised by how much I enjoyed this one. Part of it is how the film destabilizes our allegiances with the leads. Lawrence Tierney isn't very likeable at all, but he has a cold, unfeeling ambition whose directness has its own disarming integrity. At least with him you know what you're getting -- Claire Trevor (in a much better performance than her Oscar-winning vamping in KEY LARGO) conveys a range of conflicting impulses that ultimately do her in. Her character plays with femme fatale conventions by positing her first as a respectable woman of means only to turn into the embodiment of craven neuroses by the climax. Wise's direction is efficient, and he handles tones in a fascinating way, not the least by employing Walter Slezak and Audrey Long as a couple of scheming hangers on for comic relief. YES (#10 for 1947 between BRUTE FORCE and PURSUED)