Born Reckless (1959)

Jackie Adams (Mamie Van Doren) is a singer and rodeo trick rider, spending her night performing a few songs at a local bar. When she gets off stage, she’s followed rather aggressively by a sports writer who is trying to get a little too friendly. Fellow rodeo rider Kelly Cobb (Jeff Richards) hears Jackie’s screams and fights off the writer.

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(Image via Fantasy Ink)

As Kelly drives off with his pal Cool (Arthur Hunnicutt), they discover that Jackie has come along for the ride, hiding herself in the back seat. As she befriends Kelly and Cool, Jackie learns that Kelly travels the country riding at different rodeos in order to save up money to buy a plot of land.

As she begins to fall for Kelly, Jackie becomes concerned by the danger he faces as a rodeo rider. And there’s another problem: Kelly doesn’t seem to realize that she loves him!

Born Reckless was directed by Howard W. Koch.

Mamie Van Doren charms the audience in her cowgirl role here, though the character is pretty shallowly written.

Jackie is a good girl (or “good, sweet, home-type girl,” as she sings in one song, seeming to poke fun at the actress’ quite opposite reputation), often treated awfully by sleazy men. Luckily for Jackie, her pal Kelly often comes to the rescue… but not luckily for the viewer. The film paints Jackie as somewhat of a one-dimensional damsel.

No character in Born Reckless has much complexity, however, with a relatively short run time and plenty of songs packed in. The songs are decent. They aren’t too twangy or country-kitschy, as one may expect from a film about rodeo stars. There are a few cowboy tunes, but a few tracks that lean more toward pop-rock (like Mamie’s own numbers).

Born Reckless is just an okay film. An okay way to pass the time, with an okay romance, and some okay horse-riding action sequences… but not enough of anything to make it recommendable as a good watch.

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