BluRay/DVD Reviews

BORN TO BE BAD

By • Jan 6th, 2013 •

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This is a real interesting piece of DVD. It’s one of Ray’s earlier works, it’s a noir, and it’ll have you squirming in your seat with anxiety as the femme fatale works her wily ways on the relative innocents around her. It’s a keeper and it’s a good thing it’s available to grace your shelves. And yet, there are major flaws that co-exist with all the good stuff. Most unusual.

Joan Fontaine is Christabel Caine, seemingly shy, unobtrusive, sorry to be imposing on her friend Donna (Joan Leslie) Foster’s home. But she left her suitcase in the middle of the hallway and Donna, carrying flowers in front of her, trips over it. This is the first trap laid in Donna’s and everyone else’s paths by the conniving Ms. Caine, and by the time she’s done, it’s as if we’ve been through one of Bunuel’s EXTERMINATING ANGEL mazes; it’s a wonder everyone is able to put themselves back together again.

After I got over the fact that I just didn’t buy Joan Fontaine as Christable Caine, I kind of let the film wash over me and was swept along with its creepy twists and turns. The men are falling for her left and right, yet I perceived no sex appeal emanating from Ms. Fontaine at all. This key emotional element that the plot turned on simply wasn’t there. It was easy to buy her dual nature. I’ve certainly known a woman or two who came on nice but there was danger and duplicity lurking just beneath the surface, and even though everyone knew it, somehow these real life femme fatales still had their way. Being transparent doesn’t make Christable any less lethal. She’s clever, and they can’t get ahead of her, or warn the other characters clearly enough to convince them to avoid disaster.

Warner Archive titles are generally threadbare. That’s part of the deal. But with this title you get a lengthy alternate ending that really sends your head spinning. It’s a nice way to keep on thinking about the film long after it’s done.

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