Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Born to Kill (1947) @ Chez Kevin

On Sunday night, a few friends came over to Chez Kevin for dessert and a movie. Just this past October, Kevin had purchased his first home. A condo; the first floor in a historic Queen Anne style home. I am not exaggerating when I say that everyone who sees Kevin's place is absolutely gobsmacked. The home is filled with character, has a gorgeous layout, nice big rooms and original Queen Anne details. My favorite details are the Queen Anne style tiles around one of his two fireplaces and an old-fashioned pencil sharpener. Kevin decorated it well with lots of nice furniture, candles and other special accents.

Before we watched the movie, I took some pictures of Kevin's place. He's got extensive collections of DVDs, books on movies as well as movie poster artwork. Here are some highlights:

Here is Kevin's main bookcase for his DVDs. Notice the painting on top? It's a commission painting done by the ultra-talented Kate Gabrielle of James Dean in Giant (1954). Kevin's always given me very thoughtful gifts, so for his last birthday I thought I'd do something special for him.

This is part of his collection of DVD boxed sets.

When Kevin was debating what movie to show, he considered Fellini's Nights of Cabiria (1957). He has a poster of the film in his living room.

Two of Kevin's favorite directors.

Here are some more movie posters (Italian). When you walk through Kevin's condo, there is no doubt that the person who lives there is a true film buff!


After much debate as to what to show during the movie night, Kevin ultimately decided on Born to Kill (1947). He introduced it to us as a film noir, that is as dramatic as it is darkly humorous. I met Kevin a couple years ago when I was a student in his film noir class, so for him to show a film in this genre for his first official movie night was a special treat for me.

I hadn't seen Born to Kill before so I was looking forward to watching a film new to me.

Or so I thought.

Born to Kill (1947) stars Claire Trevor and Lawrence Tierney. Trevor is a divorcee who witnesses the aftermath of a murder committed by Tierney. She is both terrified and entranced with Tierney, tapping into her own murderous and evil tendencies. Trevor is engaged to a rich man in order to gain her own financial freedom from her rich foster-sister, Audrey Long. Tierney punishes Trevor by marrying Long and using her for his own selfish purposes.

As I was watching the film, certain things seemed awfully familiar. Then when I saw actress Isabell Jewell, who plays Laury Palmer, I had a vision of her lying, prostrate on the floor, dead, the camera focusing on her shoes. At one point, I wanted to point at the television and proclaim "She gets murdered! I remember her shoes!". Alas, I held my tongue so as to not ruin the movie for anyone. It's not much of a spoiler, considering most of the story is based on the investigation of her murder, but it would have been rude otherwise. When the image I had in mind popped up on the screen, I knew that indeed I had seen this film.

Isn't it amazing that one can watch a film, forget all about it with the exception of one solitary image? That seems to happen to me a lot.

Some topics of conversation from pre-show and post-show bonding.

1) Lawrence Tierney was an intimidating man. Onscreen and off.
2) Lawrence Tierney once played Elaine's dad on Seinfeld.
3) In the late 1940s, folks were fascinated by evil women. This explains why so many films during this era showcased femme fatales.
4) Costume Designer Edward Stevenson had a penchant for strange hats and head-dresses as well assymetrical clothing.
5) Engagements were unusually short in those days.
6) The popcorn that Lisa brought in from Trader Joe's was absolutely delicious!

Thanks again to Kevin for such a great movie night! I'm looking forward to his next one.


  1. Thanks for the review. I've never seen this one before! I love the photos of the condo too, and covet his dvd collection!

  2. Lawrence Tierney was a real life intimidating guy. Booze and his fists were part of his trade. I've read those that worked with him generally didn't argue when he got ill tempered. He could have been a major star - an A list actor but his temperament made that impossible.

    Born To Kill is a mesmerizing movie. WIth all the codes and censoring of that era, It's amazing it was released.

  3. stop it..... Way cool..

  4. Ha ha! Stop it indeed!

    Thanks, Raquelle, for such a flattering post! It was a fun night and it was nice to have so many friends over, considering the Grammy Awards were on the same night! It makes me want to have another movie night very soon. It's always nice to have an opportunity to present a movie from my collection to wonderful friends! I am happy I ended up choosing "Born to Kill"! :-)

  5. Hey, I love that painting hanging above the DVDs! ;-D

    When I have my own place, this is what I want-- movie posters and dvds everywhere!!!

    This movie sounds good, I don't think I've ever seen a Lawrence Tierney movie yet (or if I have I don't remember?) ... Netflix! :)

  6. now you're stepping into my world Quelle! i am a huge Lawrence Tierney fan! I had no idea who he was until i saw "Reservoir Dogs" but after that i sure did! you wanna see him really play a psycho convincingly check out "Devil Thumbs a Ride". its not as good a film overall as "Born to Kill" but he's really, as you said, intimidating! also the flm "Dillinger" is a must see for anyone who likes Tierney.
    Born to Kill is unusual because director Robert Wise rarely ventured into such hard-boiled territory. hard to believe that same man made the Sound of Music and West Side Story huh?

  7. That's so funny--I did nearly the same thing with Born to Kill--except I just forgot the title and the beginning of the movie. I suddenly remembered everything when Tierney popped up. I enjoyed seeing it a second time, but I struggled with how unpleasant the lead characters were. I mean, they were really gritty--not the corrupt but attractive sorts you see in flicks like Double Indmenity. But then, that's why Tierney in particular fascinates me; he really was a brute! I love how you took pics of the condo. What a gorgeous place!

  8. Did Lawrence Tierney portray a homme fatale in this movie?

  9. I DEFINITELY want my first place to look like that!! :D
    I'll have to check out Born to Kill, it sounds very exciting!

  10. I'm STILL fascinated by evil women. . .

  11. all day long i've been trying to remember a funny line Eliza Cook Jr said in that film....was it:

    "You cant go around killing people, its just not feasible!" ???

  12. WOW! This is truly the house of a classic film/general film lover. The deep red walls feel like the curtains you'd see in one of those old, lovely theaters when going to see a Fred Astaire film. And that film collection! It's all absolutely wonderful.
    And it's true about evil women. The film noir femme fatale was a departure from the typically helpless women in films before, and unfortunately still today, after the 1940s.

  13. Francy - You're welcome! I'm glad you liked the pictures and the review.

    MrJeffrey - Doesn't it? Makes me want to bring a big box, break into Kevin's condo and steal willy-nilly.

    Bill - Tierney was the ultimate bad-ass.

    Lenny - ha ha!

    Kevin - Oh Kevin stop! You ARE the wonderful one.

    Kate - Maybe there is a chance you've seen the movie and forgotten about it like I did?! We all watch so many films. I was excited for you to see your James Dean painting up in Kevin's condo!

    Artman - Thanks for the suggestions. Stepping into your territory huh? But I've been in this territory befor! ::smirk::

    KC - LOL! Oh my goodness. Great minds think alike. Well actually, Great minds forget alike.

    Rush - I guess you could say that.

    Sarah - Your place would be filled with funky 60s posters huh?

    Mark - Since you are a writer, I can see how evil women would be fodder for some great storytelling.

    Artman - The minor character actors in that movie really steal the show. I loved Elisha Cook Jr in that!

    Caroline - Oh wow! I didn't think about it but yes deep red is definitely a movie/theater kind of color. Thanks for that.

  14. I have to admit I've had the same experience. I've forgotten I've seen a film only to realise I have seen it once I watch it again! Of course, in my case I think it's just old age creeping up on me...

  15. Born to Kill starts off very well. Lawerence Tierney is an intimidating presence, but things fall apart when the action switches from Reno to San Francisco. You're right about quick engagements. I think Tierney and Audrey Long were married in under 10 minutes of screen time. What a disappointment considering the cast.


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