Born to Be Bad - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Born to Be Bad Reviews

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½ June 20, 2013
Scandalous, even for our time....
½ January 5, 2013
Not a bad Stella Dallas clone here about a... ahem.. "free thinking" woman raising a son. When her son is hit by a milk truck, she sees dollar signs and gets the boy to feign more injuries. He's caught in court though, and the kid is taken away from her. The kid is adopted by the milk company president though, and she tries every way to get him back, even though the rich life may be the best for him. Some good lines in this pre-code movie, but somewhat predictable ending though.
½ July 28, 2012
A woman like you doesn't deserve a child

Letty Strong became pregnant at fifteen and is determined to raise her son to be strong, street smart, and never to be taken advantage of. She doesn't care how she gets the money to raise him or from whom. Her son falls into legal issues and she loses him temporarily. She will stop at nothing to see him and remain an intricate part of his life...even if it means passing up on love.

"I don't like school. I've already got plenty of brains."

Lowell Sherman, director of False Faces, Night Life of the Gods, High Stakes, Bachelor Apartment, The Royal Bed, and Broadway thru a Keyhole, delivers Born to be Bad. The storyline for this picture is very good and Loretta Young delivers an amazing performance (she was 21 years old in this film and this was her 49th film). The cast as a whole is amazing and also stars Cary Grant, Jackie Kelk, and Marion Burns.

"If you're going to dish it out you better be able to take it."

I came across this film while looking for Cary Grant pictures and decided to DVR it. I was pleasantly surprised by the greatness of this gem. I had never heard of it and have not seen many Young pictures. She was amazing in this film and even stole the light from the great Cary Grant (one of my all time favorites). I strongly recommend seeing this picture.

"If you don't do you're gonna get done."

Grade: A
Super Reviewer
½ July 16, 2012
An early attempt on Grant's part, most of the film is less of an actual film and more of a cautionary tale for the nymphets and flappers still left over from the roaring twenties. At least the film is carried on the backs of two of the best stars of the day. Old Hollywood legends Cary Grant and Loretta Young are the main reason to watch this venture, not for any superb performances, because neither shines in this dour picture. Grant is still wet behind the ears, having followed Mae West around like a lovesick puppy in his last two films, and was completely wrong for the part of the golden boy philanthropist with a bendable will. Loretta, as the loving mother with a bad girl streak, is perfectly in her element but falls flat with extremely lax dialogue and ridiculous supporting characters. The financial aspect of the film, which is part of the plot, makes no sense, and the fact that she's a mother makes even less sense. The film feels cut up and censored, and most of the more mature themes are so watered down and ill used that it's little more than a morality tale. It's short, and mind numbingly self-indulgent, soapy and melodramatic, and there's little to this film except some early examples of Grant and Young's acting. Easy to miss, I assure you.
June 23, 2012
People sure fall in love quickly in the movies. Now I know why I've never heard of this one before. Pretty lame.
June 4, 2012
no info = no interest
May 18, 2012
A young Cary Grant gets his world shaken when he encounters a woman with a shallow moral fibre and her child. decent film.
Super Reviewer
March 9, 2012
Bad acting (yes, even The Mr. Cary Grant - it was before he found his style). Bad filming. Cliched and ill-paced story.
½ March 3, 2012
Dopey but somewhat sexy pre-code melodrama. It doesn't have much going for it.
September 9, 2011
The Last Gasp of Pre-Code

According to both IMDB and Wikipedia, this movie went back to the Hays Office twice. And yet I cannot see how it passed at all, given that the main character was an unwed teenage mother. Who actively works to break up a marriage and never really suffers a comeuppance for it. Oh, it's true that her, shall we say, current occupation is never mentioned; at one point, she angrily declares that she's a "model." And apparently, a lot of shots where she shows skin were trimmed. On the other hand, this strikes me as the very definition of "a movie whose plot goes against the Code." Not just one or two elements but the underlying plot structure itself. The sanctity of marriage had to be honoured, but it seems as though all the characters see marriage as something which can and should be dissolved if it no longer works out. Which is what I think, too, but Joe Breen and I never would have agreed about a whole lot of things.

Years ago, at the age of fifteen, Letty Strong (Loretta Young) stumbled into the bookstore of "Fuzzy" (Henry Travers) and gave birth. The child has grown into a wild boy whom she named Mickey (Jackie Kelk). She tells Fuzzy that she has trained him to be strong and not to be fooled by anyone or anything. Certainly not some meaningless concept of "honour." And one day, Mickey is hanging onto the back of a truck while on his roller skates, and he is injured in a car accident. Letty colludes with her lawyer, Adolph (Harry Green), a broad Jewish stereotype, and claims in court that Mickey is much more seriously injured than he really is. This is because she figures this will let her get a lot of money out of Malcolm Trevor (Cary Grant), who was driving the truck which injured her boy. He owns a dairy, and she figures between his personal money and the company's, she and Mickey will make out like bandits. Only her lies are revealed, she is declared an unfit mother, and Malcolm and his wife, Alyce (Marion Burns), adopt Mickey.

As you might guess, this movie is from before Cary Grant became Cary Grant. He'd been a plaything of Mae West (speaking of dodging the Code); he'd been the Mock Turtle. (We've that coming up soon!) But the earliest of the movies of his which I've seen where he's really That Cary Grant is [i]The Amazing Adventure[/i]. And there's [i]Topper[/i], the year after that. Here, he's wealthy, at least, but there's an earnest nobility which he wouldn't shake until 1941, at earliest, and the dreary and dreadful [i]Penny Serenade[/i]. But what this movie, the Mae West, and [i]Penny Serenade[/i] have in common is a decided lack of charm. Most people, I think, would be surprised to know of the man's lower-class roots. In later years, it would be hard to believe that Letty's attempted seduction of Malcolm was an act. Here, it's a bit hard to believe it isn't. He's nice enough, and he's certainly rich enough, but he really doesn't seem to be Letty's type at all.

Interestingly, Jackie Kelk seems to have spent most of his career on the radio, though that does leave an awful lot of career uncovered. He would, in time, play Jimmy Olsen on the radio. Here, he is one of those characters where the boy must help drive the picture without ever actually needing to be a talented actor, though I will say that he doesn't do a bad job. I'll admit that I tend to focus a lot more on the acting of children than is necessarily fair, but I do also tend to give credit where credit is due. Loretta Young would spend a lot of her career as a goodie-goodie--though it's worth noting that, in my favourite of her movies, it's seriously suggested that she might leave her husband for Cary Grant's character. Grant, of course, would play suave, debonair men, even if they often ended up in rather peculiar circumstances, chasing after dinosaur bones or being chased by spies. But this isn't their later careers, and the kid doesn't need to stand up to that. But he does well with what he does face.

The only professional review of this movie on the site refers to this as a "woman's picture," and I suppose it is at that. On the other hand, because it does also miss quite a lot of the movie's plot, the review misses some of the actual drama to the story, drama which is enough for me to give the movie a marginally positive review. Letty is in Holly Golightly's sorority of the powder room, if you will, that legion of movie women of no discernible means of support who nonetheless make quite a nice living. Unlike Holly, though, this living has made Letty hard. Not the hard shell that Holly has, actually hard. Her only soft spot is for her son, and that's where the movie hits her. She thought that making him hard as well would shelter him from the world, but it seems at the end that developing a sense of honour is opening a whole array of opportunities that she would never be able to give him. Which is, I suppose, "women's picture" enough.
½ August 21, 2011
Preserved seemingly only for the presence of Cary Grant and Loretta Young, this early morality tale can't even boast worthwhile performances from the two soon-to-be stars. Instead, it is a stagey reading of a bad script, with a heavy (and unlikable) central character who switches morales so quickly its hard to believe she isn't bipolar. The only value one might find in the film is the rare spectacle of Loretta Young as something other than pure and sweet, something quite the opposite, but this little oddity certainly doesn't warrant a viewing.
½ June 14, 2011
rather dull. at least it was short (61 min).
Super Reviewer
½ September 14, 2010
How can you judge a woman as fit to be a mother or not? This movie doesn't discuss this question even though it really should. Personally I didn't think Young was a horrible mother in this movie, she treated her son well. I didn't like the ending either.
½ February 27, 2010
2.5: Young and Grant look great together, even if they don't produce many sparks. Grant just seems a bit too suave for his own good though and his on screen persona isn't quite fully developed yet. We don't quite know what to do with him. Even if he has played a major role in separating a mother from her child and has slept with a woman other than his wife, it seems a bit difficult to find much fault with him. He's too Cary Grant, but he's also not quite enough to carry the picture away from Young. It's a thoroughly entertaining little picture, but it comes in a bit heavy handed and over the top at times. The subject matter and open way in which it is handled is certainly a bit shocking, but not surprising given the the fact that film was created before the production code went into effect. The hardly veiled references to prostitution, the winking manner in which the doctor demands payment in sex for his services, the marital infidelity, etc. all serve to remind one the film is anything but typical of Hollywood from the early 30's to the mid 60's. The Hollywood ending and dramatic character conversion Young's character undergoes is extremely typical of Hollywood, but doesn't exactly ring true for me. It doesn't exactly end on a happy note though, which ultimately is what separates the picture from its many contemporaries. It doesn't take the easy way out, at least not entirely.
December 8, 2009
Great movie. Loretta Young and Cary Grant when they were very young. They are so cute together!!!
December 8, 2009
Excellent movie. Both Loretta Young and Cary Grant were great!!!
½ February 23, 2009
omg i cant belvie they would put those kinds of things in a movie back then.
July 22, 2008
As a Cary Grant-phile, I'm almost ashamed to admit that I don't particularly like this movie. In fact, this is probably my least-favorite of his films. I've never been a great fan of Loretta young, either, but they're better-teamed in the later The Bishop's Wife. Although Born to Be Bad is, in some ways, relatively groundbreaking in that it focuses on an unfit mother who's had a child out of wedlock and seems to dapple in various other unscrupulous behaviors, the plot falls flat, the acting is not up to what it could be (Grant was still at the beginning of his career) and I can't help but feel sorry for Marion Burns' Alice while simultaneously saying "good riddance" to the young boy who figures in the story. Fans of Grant and/or Young will find it as amusing as they possibly can, but aside from Grant's developing charm in action, I find little to make this one work as well as most others.
May 13, 2008
One of my favorite Loretta Young roles. She gives a very good performance and she and Cary Grant were good together.
January 26, 2008
Not the best acting, but a very interesting and strong story with Loretta Young and Cary Grant before either of them got really big. it's pretty well done, and i thought it was pretty interesting and fairly well done.
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