Director: Robert Wise
Intensely cold, blood-curdling and emotionally spare, Born To Kill is knockout noir. A grim and at times complicated picture, it features a youthful Lawrence Tierney as a near-robotic pathological murderer. Sam Wild (Tierney) is a former boxer and roustabout who has arrived in Reno on a gambling trip with his pal. Marty Sam is tightly wound, alternately morose and cruel, and motivated by a narrow and brutal moral code. Marty, behaving curiously like a dutiful wife, is constantly required to coddle the easily inflamed Sam and soothe his violent rages.
Marty becomes jealous but resigned and stili vigilant when Sam becomes involved with a pair of sisters. Georgia represents the spirited but ultimately obedient and submissive stereotype Sam thinks he wants to wed; Helen is the unwholesome, twisted and perverse mirror of Sam's own personality that he unconsciously craves.
Shot in the corners and shadows of a neon-lit city custom designed for indulging sin Born To Kill indicates Robert Wise's gift for profoundly clever character analysis couched in seemingly typical examples of genre film. Although tense, armrest-gripping stuff the film has tremendous depth and clarity. An arresting experience, this is the kind of of innovative study of the icy logic of the stone killer that would not be fully realised until In Cold Blood (1967) and Henry: Portrait Of A Serial Killer (1987).
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