review for Born to Kill on AllMovie

Born to Kill (1947)
by Adam Bregman review

L.A. gangster Mickey Cohen once said of actor Lawrence Tierney, "A lot of them actor guys, like the guy that played Dillinger, Lawrence Tierney, started to think they was Dillinger. I guess when actors are given a certain part to portray, and they portray it year in and year out, they begin to play it somewhat for real." This may be the reason Tierney is so convincing as a scumball crook in Born to Kill. He spent much of his life in and out of jail. As Sam Wild, Tierney is at his most menacing, ready to tear into anybody for any reason, and in Born to Kill he leaves a sizable body count. Helen Trent (Claire Trevor) is a bad girl, but has some conscience, which makes her actually look down upon Sam, even though she's in love with him. Elisha Cook Jr. is great here playing a low-rent crook and pal of Sam's, who also has something in the way of a conscience. But Sam is pure violence incarnate, with absolutely no control over his murderous tendencies. This is one mean B-movie with some great action and a gripping ending.