Tony D'Ambra compiles a number of fine observations about BORN TO KILL at his site--
--which are well worth a read...
Also worth a read for its overwrought prudery is the review filed by Bosley Crowther in the New York Times upon the film's release, which probably induced a whole cadre of folks to go see it:
"For this crime-flaunting melodrama from the left hand of RKO is not only morally disgusting but is an offense to a normal intellect—and we say this with no more piety or conceit than is average, we feel sure.In the first place, the story is malignant, being a cheap and unsavory tale of a hard-hearted murderer's fascination for a self-seeking divorcee. And, although such a smeary tabloid fable is hot entirely unfamiliar on the screen, in this particular instance it is of noticeably negative worth.
But, more than that, the whole atmosphere and detail of corruption is so indulgently displayed that it looks as though the aim of the producers was to include as much as possible, within the limits of the Production Code. Lawrence Tierney, as the bold, b_ whose ambition is to "fix it so's I can spit in anybody's eye," is given outrageous license to demonstrate the histrionics of nastiness. And Claire Trevor as the lustful lady is permitted to conduct herself, especially in some scenes with Mr. Tierney, with surprising indecorum and lack of taste.
Nothing is proved by their behavior beyond the easy (and excusing) moral that crime does not pay. In the meantime, the audience has been treated to an hour and a half of ostentatious vice. Surely, discriminating people are not likely to be attracted to this film. But it is precisely because it is designed to pander to the lower levels of taste that it is reprehensible.
Does anyone think that John Huston read this review and was inspired to add in the line into THE ASPHALT JUNGLE about crime being a "left-handed form of human endeavor"? :-)
DECOY and DETOUR should definitely be bundled together, as they are both long overdue for a coupling, but Eddie has not shown BORN TO KILL in San Francisco since his very first festival in 2003. To his credit, he's shown it twice on Noir Alley, but it's way overdue for a rendezvous on the big screen at the Castro. But if he quits because he can't get DECOY onto TCM in '22, he should be fired if he doesn't play BORN TO KILL on the schedule of every festival he programs in that same year.