Born to Kill is one film noir that surely deserves its title. Lawrence Tierney plays a ruthless, psychopathic character named Sam Wild. That he was ‘born’ to kill is confirmed in the first few moments of the picture, when the man kills an innocent couple out of sheer jealousy and sudden outburst of aggression.

The only person to see the bodies lying lifelessly on the floor is a beautiful woman Helen Trent (Claire Trevor), whose divorce has just come through, but she really doesn’t want to get involved in the whole murderous affair and decides not to tell anybody about what she saw. The whole narrative changes abruptly, as the two characters meet on-board of a train bound for San Francisco, and instantly fall in love. Realizing that Helen is already married to another man, Sam decides to fall for her wealthy, tender and enthusiastic half-sister Georgia (Audrey Long), just to make Helen jealous and unhappy. Even though they’re both in relationships, their whopping yet disastrous love flourishes. Unfortunately, the detectives starts snooping around in order to find the double murderer. Enter Marty (Elisha Cook Jr.), Sam’s old pal, who arrives in San Francisco and brings the cops along with him. In a sudden and unexpected turn of events, Marty is found dead and the two doomed lovers continue their illicit love affair. Even when Helen is sure that Sam is the true killer, she doesn’t stop loving him. In the intense finale Sam is finally caught and faces arrest, but he decides that he won’t back down now and commits the one last crime…

Born to Kill is a rather uneven, yet distressingly macabre melodrama with a nifty storyline and a typically-noirish mix of failed romance and cold-blooded murder. Though it’s hardly original in its themes, it still entangles the audiences with its tense, moody atmosphere and Lawrence Tierney’s most sinister role ever.


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