Born to Be Bad (1950)

Genres - Drama  |   Sub-Genres - Melodrama  |   Release Date - Jul 15, 1950 (USA - Unknown)  |   Run Time - 93 min.  |   Countries - USA  |  
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Although it's hardly a great movie, Born to Be Bad is a lot of fun – if one is in the mood for a bitchy, campy, over-the-top melodrama. Bad has little time to waste on subtlety; it's much more concerned with celebrating its "bad girl" protagonist, and in presenting its soap in the most operatic terms possible. Indeed, the screenplay that has been crafted from Anne Parrish's book is one line of memorable dialogue after another - sometimes memorably good, sometimes memorably bad, but always out to make an impression. Nicholas Ray's direction is similarly heated; it's not his best work by a long shot, but it still has that distinctive Ray flavor to it, and he finds some interesting camera angles to add some aesthetic interest to the trashy goings-on. Unfortunately, there's not a lot he can do with leading lady Joan Fontaine, who is cast against type – to her and the film's detriment. Although Fontaine's performance is fun on a campy level, she's never remotely believable (and not just because she's ten years too old for the part), and some of her mannerisms are actively annoying. Her two "love" interests are better; neither Robert Ryan nor Zachary Scott turns in a great performance, but they do what is asked of them. Better is Mel Ferrer, who has fun with his closeted character; even better is Joan Leslie, whose understated, lovely performance is far and away the best in the film. Fortunately, artistic considerations are beside the point with Bad. It's really just the kind of film that one should sit back, put questions of artistry aside and just enjoy for its over-the-top fun.