Born to Kill (Wise, 1947)

A raging, brutal Noir, with characters more paranoid than usual in this sort of twisted affair. When Lawrence Tierney and Claire Trevor both play a suspicious role in a double homicide, each spirals in contrasting directions. But as with all great Noir, fate intertwines them back together, producing a prolonged punishment of changing desires and filthy intentions. Far superior to Wise’s other exercises in style (The Set-Up , Odds Against Tomorrow), Born to Kill crawls with shadows and angst, popping off snappy dialogue at will, creating performances of breaking psychosis. When fate finally comes crashing down, after almost 90 minutes of build-up, the send-off is both tragic and just, violent and poetic.

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