Christabel, a young seemingly innocent woman, moves in with her cousin Donna, whose fiancee,Curtis, is extremely wealthy. After awhile it becomes clear to the viewer that Christabel is a manipulative creature only interested in breaking up her cousin's engagement so she can be with Curtis' money. Nicholas Ray's Born to Be Bad has so much potential but it ends up being surprisingly bland and uninteresting. For starters this is one of Ray's least interesting films in both it's visual design and it's treatment of characters. Joan Fontaine is fine as Christabel, but the character is really one dimension and is never venomous or tragic enough for me to find her particularly engaging. The film never explores Christabel inner psyche only showing us her weaseling ways. The whole film just feels very passive, as no character goes through any transformation, as we are aware of Christabel's deceits early on. The relationship which Christabel forms with Nick, a rugged writer, could have been our window into this cold woman's mind but it never really develops. Nick is the only person who sees through Christabel's manipulations, but once again, the film doesn't really develop or explore this relationship near enough. Nick was the only character that Christabel seemed to have true feelings for, but we never see much of that side of her. Maybe I am being a little harsh, but considering this was a Nicholas Ray film starring Robert Ryan and Joan Fontaine, I was expecting a little more particularly in terms of complex character dynamics.
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