"The Stuff That Dreams Are Made Of" ... Bogart, Shakespeare, The Maltese Falcon, Those Great Movies

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Here's a Turkey for Thanksgiving -- Raised To Be Rotten

By ClassicBecky

For those who are old enough to remember Carol Burnette's movie spoofs, the above was the title for one her best. The actual movie is 1950's Born To Be Bad, and it did indeed live up to its name. Miscasting, an unbelievable storyline and melodrama to the nth degree made this movie, in my opinion, one of the great turkeys of all time. Even a cast of solid, talented actors could not save this disaster.

Casting Joan Fontaine as the scheming, vicious Christabelle was the first mistake. (Even the name Christabelle was pretty bad.) Fontaine was never meant for such a part, and she tries to act up a storm with side-glances, overdone raised eyebrows, fake smiles and body language intended to show her as a siren out for gold. It doesn't work. Zachary Scott as her rich conquest must have been a moron not to see through her embarrasingly obvious tricks to lure him away from his innocent fiancee, played by Joan Leslie. Robert Ryan as Christabelle's true lust partner is also a sap for falling in lustful love with the fake, manipulative woman as played by Fontaine. Fontaine is a beautiful woman, but she just isn't sexy. Why the studly Ryan finds her so desirable is a mystery. There is nothing subtle in her acting. Only one friend, Gobby, played by Mel Ferrer, sees through her, but says nothing. Joan Leslie also sees through her, but somehow fails to talk it over with her intended husband, for God knows what reason. I guess so the movie would go on longer.

Eventually the jig is up, and Christabelle goes on her merry way toting along all the furs and money she can get her hands on. Only friend Mel Ferrer has the sense to relieve Christabelle of the keys to the mansion. Zachary Scott and Joan Leslie patch things up too easily, and that is finally the end. The movie is only about 90 minutes long, but seems like 3 hours. To sum up, Born To Be Bad has only one redeeming value -- it inspired one of the best spoofs Carol Burnett ever made, better than the movie itself.