Somehow the titles of the films of hardcase actor Lawrence Tierney seemed to be extensions of the man's personality, as witness such films as The Devil Thumbs a Ride and Born to Kill. In the latter picture, Tierney starts the ball rolling by committing a double murder in a jealous pique. Claire Trevor discovers the bodies, but says nothing to the police; she's leaving town and doesn't want to be impeded. Trevor and Tierney meet and fall in love on the train to San Francisco. Unfortunately, Trevor is married, so Tierney shifts his affections to her sister, Audrey Long (later the wife of director Billy Wilder). He marries Long, though he keeps up his illicit affair with Trevor. When detectives investigating the murders come snooping, they are bought off by Tierney's pal Elisha Cook Jr.--who is then murdered by Tierney, who suspects that Cook is carrying on with Trevor (Cook seldom survived to the end of any of his films). When Tierney finally does face arrest, it's at the instigation of the jealous Trevor, who is shot full of holes for her trouble. Born to Kill was based on James Gunn's novel Deadlier Than the Male.
by Hal Erickson synopsis