Born to Be Bad (1934): 4/5
Let’s be honest, we all know what attracted me to this movie. Two words: CARY. GRANT. I’ll watch anything he’s in.
His leading lady is Loretta Young, who portrays a young, unmarried mother named Letty Strong. Letty relies on her looks and wit to provide for her son, dating and dining with a number of sugar daddies.
Cary stars as Malcom Trevor, a married and very rich man.
In the beginning of the film, Malcom and Letty don’t know each other (actually, quite a large chunk of the film, considering that it’s only about an hour long in total), but a twist occurs that intersects the lives of the characters.
Cary is fantastic as usual. His character here is not like the handsome, charming men he is usually known for. He is still handsome and charming, but his character takes a turn from ultra-nice do-gooder to a flawed, adulterous man.
Loretta’s character, on the other hand, is completely bad to the bone. Her transformation is, in a way, opposite to Malcom’s. She gains a few morals by the end of the film.
This is certainly worth a watch, if for no other reason that to see a well-executed early performance from Cary, before he gained full-on leading man status. The supporting cast is not very strong, aside from Marion Burns (who portrays Malcom’s wife), so the performances of Cary and Loretta really carry the film (no pun intended).
Overall, the film is very interesting. It raises moral issues and holds the message that beauty does not always correlate with goodness. Loretta Young is glamorous and pretty, but throughout most of the film, the viewer hates her for how she acts.
The characters go through transformations that show both the light and dark within their personalities — an element that became much less common as the production code was implemented and the lines between “good” and “bad” were clearly drawn.