Born to Kill (1947): Robert Wise’s Film Noir, Starring Lawrence Tierney and Claire Trevor

Robert Wise’s first film noir, Born to Kill, stars Lawrence Tierney, Claire Trevor and Walter Slezak.

The Premise:

story opens in Reno, Nevada, where Helen Brent (Claire Trevor) leaves the courthouse after getting a divorce. To celebrate her freedom, she goes to a casino, where she meets Sam Wilde (Lawrence Tierney).

Helen also spots at the casino Laury Palmer (Isabel Jewell), a young woman who lives next to the boardinghouse where Helen stayed while awaiting her divorce. Laury is also Sam’s girlfriend, but she is on a date with another man, Danny (Tony Barrett).

When Sam sees his girlfriend with Danny, he is furious, although he does not confront her.  Insanely jealous, Sam goes to Laury’s house, waiting in her kitchen to exact his revenge when she returns.

Robert Wise later made two other film noirs, The Set-Up (1949) and The Captive City (1952).

Claire Trevor as Helen Brent
Lawrence Tierney as Sam Wilde
Walter Slezak as Albert Arnett
Phillip Terry as Fred Grover
Audrey Long as Georgia Staples
Elisha Cook Jr. as Marty Waterman
Isabel Jewell as Laury Palmer
Esther Howard as Mrs. Kraft
Tommy Noonan as bellboy playing cards with Mrs. Kraft
Kathryn Card as Grace
Tony Barrett as Danny
Grandon Rhodes as Inspector Wilson


TCM showed the movie on January 23, 2021.