- by ZoŽ Shaw
Letty is engaged in
the rapid accumulation of money, and has a wayward son. Fuzzy had taken her
in to show her the error of her ways, but it hadn't worked. The boy is hurt
by Malcom's truck and the mother attempts to obtain damages. Instead her son
is taken away from her and Malcolm and his wife (Alice) look after him.
Malcolm has an affair with Letty, induced by her, which she attempts to use
against him to get her son back. It doesn't work, so she leaves and goes to
work for Fuzzy.
- by Debbie Dunlap
And wasn't it just a shock to see Loretta
Young be such a naughty young thing!?
Mal: "You're a bad, bad girl, Letty. A
beautiful bad girl."
Loretta plays Letty, a young woman who ended up pregnant, unmarried and on the streets at
fifteen. Bitter and determined that her child will not grow up to be taken advantage of,
Letty teaches her child, Mickey, to lie, steal, cheat and anything else he'll need to be
street smart. We meet Letty when Mickey is 7-1/2. Mal (Cary Grant) enters the picture when
his truck and Mickey, who is hanging on to the back of a delivery truck and being pulled
along the streets on his roller skates, collide. Mickey is not injured badly, but when
Letty discovers that Mal is rich, she concocts a scheme to take Mal to the cleaners. When
her plot is uncovered, Letty is also discovered for the unfit parent that she is, and
Mickey is taken away from her. Mal and his wife Alice, unable to have children of their
own, take Mickey in and give him a father's love, a true mother's love, and a home he can
call his own. Even though Letty has access to Mickey whenever she wants, she is jealous of
Mickey's growing attachment to these two good people and she still sees Mal as a ticket to
riches. Letty seduces Mal, records the seduction and then plans to blackmail Mal.
Upsetting her plans is the fact that Mal immediately tells his wife, and Alice's
acceptance of the relationship. Letty learns a painful lesson in selfless love and finally
sees that what is best for Mickey is more important than her own plans.
Film Review - June 5, 1934
- by "Bige"
- submitted by Barry Martin
This story is so bad in
completed picture form, it's hard to see how it was thought to
contain enough merit to warrant production in the first
place. From the director, Lowell Sherman, to one of the
co-stars, Loretta Young, and including the producers, a lot of
first rate effort went into the making; but all wasted.
Unnatural mother love, delinquent
juvenile behavior and strange adult thinking are the elements that
serve both to make and ruin the plot. It is trash writing
and the dialog added to it is hardly better.
A 15-year-old unwed mother has a
baby boy, and she brings him up in such a way that, in her
opinion, he will be fortified against the grief she has gone
through. The boy under her guidance becomes a sneak-thief,
and a rowdy. The mother countenances all his antics,
meanwhile going about her own shady activities.
The rich man enters the
picture. He's the kind of a rich man who owns a stupendous
dairy business and drives a truck himself now and then 'just to
keep in touch with all departments of my business.' While
truck driving one day he runs over the kid. The kid's mother
tries to frame a big settlement, but is exposed in court.
Anyway, the rich man adopts the boy. Then the mother goes on
the make for the rich man, gets him in spite of his very nice but
too generous and unreal wife - but at the finish the
mother-on-the-make realizes her mistake, repents, and scrams.
Loretta Young looks better than
ever, but the story gave her too much of a handicap to do anything
but look well. Her performance might be called satisfactory
under the circumstances, but the same doesn't apply to Cary
Grant. He gives a colorless, meaningless performance.
Jackie Kelk, seemingly about seven or eight years old, must be a
clever kid to be able to become so dislikeable before the picture
is five minutes old, as he does here. Balance of cast, as
well as the production and Lowell Sherman's deft but wasted
directing, all much too good for the script.
NEW YORK TIMES Film Review - May 30, 1934
- by Mordaunt Hall
- submitted by Barry Martin
Ralph Graves, who has given
several fairly interesting performances in motion pictures, is
responsible for the narrative of "Born to be Bad," the
new occupant of the Rivoli screen. If this opus is any criterion
of Mr. Grave's literary skill, he is scarcely to be congratulated
on having temporarily abandoned his acting. It is a hopelessly
unintelligent hodgepodge, wherein Loretta Young and Cary Grant
have the misfortune to be cast in the leading roles.
The story concerns Letty Strong
(Miss Young), a callous, unwed mother, whose enfant terrible,
Mickey, is adopted by Malcolm Trevor, a wealthy married business
man. As Mickey is a slangy, unattractive boy, who is given to
roller skating in the house, and, when it serves his purpose,
stealing anything that looks valuable, it does seem strange that
Mr. and Mrs. Trevor should take an interest in the youngster. But
Letty, whose vocabulary reflects her hardened personality, is
good-looking, which fact has a great deal to do with this inept
bundle of hysteria and implausibility.
- by Kathy Fox
BORN TO BE BAD is Cary
Grant's 15th film, his only one with Fox/United Artists and his
first of two starring with Loretta Young, the other being THE
BISHOP'S WIFE released 13 years later in 1947. When I first
watched this film, I was not very much impressed with it, but
several months later, I happened to pop the cassette into my VCR
and really concentrated on it. Loretta Young is very
stunning in her role as Lettie. She plays a single mother
trying to raise a troubled child. The two of them are
con-artists and they try to dupe Malcolm Trevor, a wealthy
businessman, out of money when her son, Mickey, is accidentally
hit by a truck driven by Trevor (Grant) who happens to be the
president of the company. The courts take the child away
from Lettie, and Trevor, having no children of his own, adopts the
child. Of course, Lettie plays Trevor for all it's worth,
even maneuvering herself into Malcolm's home, where he falls for
her, wanting to abandon his own wife who could not provide him
with a child. Lettie grows up when she realizes that
Malcolm's wife is willing to give her husband up to her because
she could not give him a child. In the end, Lettie walks out
and leaves her son with Trevor and his wife. I found this
story very poignant because Lettie wants her son, but is
"born to be bad" and realizes Mickey will have a much
better life if he stays with the wealthy Trevor family. I
believe in this movie, made in 1934, that shades of Cary start to
emerge and that is most fascinating to watch. This is the
shortest movie Cary ever made in that it is 61 minutes long.
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