Horace Woodruff Vendig: When a man is ambitious for the kind of success that I used to dream about, it’s inevitable that a lot of people are going to be hurt. He doesn’t know that. He’s too busy fighting. Then he reaches the top, whatever the top may be for him. Then he has a chance to stop, think. That’s when the pain of all those people comes back to you. He starts to feel. That’s when he starts to be a little afraid.
Recently remastered and released by the Warner Archive, Born to Be Bad is an early, but important effort from landmark director Nicholas Ray. The film was released three months after Ray’s breakthrough masterpiece In A Lonely Place, starring Humphrey Bogart and Gloria Grahame. While this film seems a lesser effort in comparison, I think much of the fault lies with the studio; Born To Be Bad had five writers and it feels like it. That said, this remaster is beautifully done and the disc comes with the original theatrical trailer, as well as a newly found and restored alternate ending. More on that after the cut.
This is one of my favorite films from the “film noir” era of classical Hollywood (although, you could argue it’s pre-noir, since a lot of scholars place 1946 as the first year of that era; but that’s neither here nor there). Joan Crawford gives one of the greatest performances of her long and diverse career and director Michael Curtiz (whose most famous film is probably Casablanca) hits all the right notes. The film was nominated for six Academy Awards, winning one: Best B&W Cinematography, Best Screenplay, Best Supporting Actress Ann Blyth, Best Supporting Actress Eve Arden, Best Actress Joan Crawford (won) and Best Picture. The other films nominated that year were Anchors Aweigh, The Bells of St. Mary’s, Spellbound and winner The Lost Weekend.