Born to Kill


1h 32m 1947
Born to Kill

Brief Synopsis

A murderer marries a young innocent then goes after her more experienced sister.

Film Details

Also Known As
Deadlier Than the Male
Genre
Drama
Crime
Mystery
Film Noir
Release Date
May 3, 1947
Premiere Information
not available
Production Company
RKO Radio Pictures, Inc.
Distribution Company
RKO Radio Pictures, Inc.
Country
United States
Location
El Segundo, California, United States; San Francisco, California, United States
Screenplay Information
Based on the novel Deadlier Than the Male by James Gunn (New York, 1943).

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 32m
Sound
Mono (RCA Sound System)
Color
Black and White
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.37 : 1
Film Length
8,273ft

Synopsis

After he discovers that Laury Palmer, the owner of a Reno boardinghouse, was romancing him only to make her boyfriend Danny jealous, Sam Wilde, a seductive but violent drifter, kills both her and Danny. Cool, sophisticated Helen Brent finds the bodies in the boardinghouse, where she has been living during her divorce proceedings, but instead of notifying the police, she calmly boards the next train to San Francisco. Also on board the train is Sam, who begins a rough flirtation with Helen and wisely observes that he is "going in the same direction" as she. Although Helen discourages the ambitious Sam from seeing her in San Francisco, he tracks her to her half sister Georgia Staples' mansion and there is introduced to Fred Grover, Helen's wealthy fiancé. After Helen tells Georgia about her gruesome discovery in Reno, she, Georgia, Fred and Sam dine together. As soon as he is alone with Helen, Sam accuses her of wanting to marry Fred for his money, and she freely admits that she is tired of playing Georgia's "poor relation." When Sam smugly insinuates that he could make Helen break the engagement if he wanted, she balks, stating firmly that no one can come between her and the security of Fred's money. In response, Sam flirts aggressively with the impressionable Georgia and, later that night, telephones his confidant, Marty Waterman, in Reno to announce that he will soon be marrying Georgia. As predicted, Sam becomes engaged to Georgia. He is unaware, however, that a private investigator, Albert Arnett, has been hired by Mrs. Kraft, the alcoholic proprietress of Laury's boardinghouse, to discover Laury's killer, and has tracked Marty to Helen and Georgia's home. After the wedding ceremony, a confused, jealous Helen argues with Sam about her sister, whom she both loves and resents, and ends up in his arms. She then throws out Arnett, who is posing as a hungry vagrant in order to snoop around the house, and dismisses his insinuations about Sam's past. A few weeks later, Sam and Georgia return home early from their honeymoon, having fought over Sam's desire to run the newspaper that Georgia inherited from her father. That night, Sam finds Helen alone in the kitchen and, after describing her as his "soul mate," kisses her passionately. Sam then compliments her on the calm way she acted in Reno, and as he begins to describe the murder scene in detail, Helen realizes that Sam is, in fact, the killer. Helen immediately telephones Arnett to arrange a meeting, unaware that Sam is listening in on the extension. To protect Sam, Helen tries to buy Arnett's silence for $5,000, but he demands $15,000. When Helen returns home, she is confronted by a jealous Sam, but finally convinces him that Arnett is only interested in her money. Sam and Marty plot to kill Mrs. Kraft, who has come to San Francisco, but when Marty goes to Helen's bedroom to warn her about Sam's violent nature, Sam assumes he is flirting with her and kills him as he is about to kill Mrs. Kraft. The next morning, Helen provides Sam with an alibi when the police question her about Marty, then tells Mrs. Kraft that unless she drops her investigation, she will be terrorized and killed. Although she calls Helen the coldest woman she has ever met, Mrs. Kraft agrees to end her pursuit. Later, Helen admits to Sam that she is "doing it all for him," but is devastated when Fred finally breaks their engagement. A suddenly remorseful Helen then tells Georgia the truth about Sam and forces her to eavesdrop while she makes plans with Sam to run away. Just then, the police, who have been tipped off by Arnett, arrive at the house, and assuming that Helen has double-crossed him, Sam tries to shoot her. Helen flees upstairs and locks herself in a bedroom, but Sam shoots at her through the door as the police storm the house. After Sam is shot and killed by the police, Helen dies of her wounds.

Photo Collections

Born to Kill - Lobby Card Set
Here is a set of Lobby Cards from RKO's Born to Kill (1947), starring Claire Trevor and Lawrence Tierney. Lobby Cards were 11" x 14" posters that came in sets of 8. As the name implies, they were most often displayed in movie theater lobbies, to advertise current or coming attractions.

Film Details

Also Known As
Deadlier Than the Male
Genre
Drama
Crime
Mystery
Film Noir
Release Date
May 3, 1947
Premiere Information
not available
Production Company
RKO Radio Pictures, Inc.
Distribution Company
RKO Radio Pictures, Inc.
Country
United States
Location
El Segundo, California, United States; San Francisco, California, United States
Screenplay Information
Based on the novel Deadlier Than the Male by James Gunn (New York, 1943).

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 32m
Sound
Mono (RCA Sound System)
Color
Black and White
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.37 : 1
Film Length
8,273ft

Articles

Born to Kill


Long before he was handing out color code names in Quentin Tarantino's Reservoir Dogs (1992) or playing Elaine's father on Seinfeld, Lawrence Tierney was the toughest, meanest man in film noir; he was never tougher or meaner than in Born To Kill (1947).

Tierney's portrayal of the title role in Dillinger (1945) made him first choice during the late 1940's for roles that called for unleavened brutality. With a gruff voice and bulldog features, he was a natural for the darker side of noir. Few come as dark as Born To Kill. The movie is based on Deadlier Than the Male, a first novel by James Edward Gunn that he wrote as part of a literature class assignment. He would go on to parlay his success into a screenwriting career working on such films as Lady of Burlesque (1943) and The Young Philadelphians (1959).

The story begins with the brutal murder of a woman and her boyfriend in Reno, Nevada. Helen Brent (Claire Trevor) discovers the bodies but does not want to get involved so she quickly grabs a train back home to San Francisco. While aboard she meets Sam Wilde (Lawrence Tierney), never suspecting he is the murderer; a psychopath given to violent, jealous rages. She falls for him, attracted by his cruelty. By the time she discovers he is the real murderer, Helen realizes his evil nature genuinely excites her. Now it's her turn to be bad.

Claire Trevor is most famous for her role as Dallas in John Ford's Stagecoach (1939), but through the's and 1950's she specialized in playing tough dames in such movies as Murder, My Sweet (1944) and Raw Deal (1948). Paired with Tierney in Born To Kill, however, she reaches new lows of depravity. "Perhaps you don't realize it's painful being killed," she sadistically tells one of her victims, "A piece of metal sliding into your body - or a bullet tearing through your skin, crashing into a bone."

The censors who approved movies under Hollywood's Production Code had some unkind words of their own when Born To Kill was screened for them. They called it "the kind of story which ought not to be made because it is a story of gross lust and shocking brutality, and ruthlessness." RKO cut some of the violence but nothing could change the tone of this movie in which the lead characters are completely heartless.

After Born To Kill, Lawrence Tierney showed that not all of his character's violence was just acting. In 1948 he was jailed for three months for breaking a man's jaw in a barroom brawl. From there on Tierney spent more time appearing in courts than in films with many more assault arrests, most involving heavy drinking. His career quickly sank to bit roles but he stuck around Hollywood and got work whenever there was a part that needed a big guy with a growly voice. With his appearance in Tarantino's Reservoir Dogs, Tierney became a cult figure, getting steady work until his death in 2002. "I want to fix it so's I can spit in anybody's eye," his character announces in Born To Kill. Tierney achieved that wish in his own life by never blunting his hard edges.

Producer: Sid Rogell, Herman Schlom
Director: Robert Wise
Screenplay: Eve Greene, Richard Macaulay, James Gunn (novel)
Cinematography: Robert De Grasse
Film Editing: Les Millbrook
Art Direction: Albert S. D'Agostino, Walter E. Keller
Music: Paul Sawtell
Cast: Claire Trevor (Helen Brent), Lawrence Tierney (Sam Wilde), Walter Slezak (Albert Arnett), Phillip Terry (Fred Grover), Audrey Long (Georgia Staples), Elisha Cook, Jr. (Marty Waterman).
BW-92m. Closed captioning.

by Brian Cady
Born To Kill

Born to Kill

Long before he was handing out color code names in Quentin Tarantino's Reservoir Dogs (1992) or playing Elaine's father on Seinfeld, Lawrence Tierney was the toughest, meanest man in film noir; he was never tougher or meaner than in Born To Kill (1947). Tierney's portrayal of the title role in Dillinger (1945) made him first choice during the late 1940's for roles that called for unleavened brutality. With a gruff voice and bulldog features, he was a natural for the darker side of noir. Few come as dark as Born To Kill. The movie is based on Deadlier Than the Male, a first novel by James Edward Gunn that he wrote as part of a literature class assignment. He would go on to parlay his success into a screenwriting career working on such films as Lady of Burlesque (1943) and The Young Philadelphians (1959). The story begins with the brutal murder of a woman and her boyfriend in Reno, Nevada. Helen Brent (Claire Trevor) discovers the bodies but does not want to get involved so she quickly grabs a train back home to San Francisco. While aboard she meets Sam Wilde (Lawrence Tierney), never suspecting he is the murderer; a psychopath given to violent, jealous rages. She falls for him, attracted by his cruelty. By the time she discovers he is the real murderer, Helen realizes his evil nature genuinely excites her. Now it's her turn to be bad. Claire Trevor is most famous for her role as Dallas in John Ford's Stagecoach (1939), but through the's and 1950's she specialized in playing tough dames in such movies as Murder, My Sweet (1944) and Raw Deal (1948). Paired with Tierney in Born To Kill, however, she reaches new lows of depravity. "Perhaps you don't realize it's painful being killed," she sadistically tells one of her victims, "A piece of metal sliding into your body - or a bullet tearing through your skin, crashing into a bone." The censors who approved movies under Hollywood's Production Code had some unkind words of their own when Born To Kill was screened for them. They called it "the kind of story which ought not to be made because it is a story of gross lust and shocking brutality, and ruthlessness." RKO cut some of the violence but nothing could change the tone of this movie in which the lead characters are completely heartless. After Born To Kill, Lawrence Tierney showed that not all of his character's violence was just acting. In 1948 he was jailed for three months for breaking a man's jaw in a barroom brawl. From there on Tierney spent more time appearing in courts than in films with many more assault arrests, most involving heavy drinking. His career quickly sank to bit roles but he stuck around Hollywood and got work whenever there was a part that needed a big guy with a growly voice. With his appearance in Tarantino's Reservoir Dogs, Tierney became a cult figure, getting steady work until his death in 2002. "I want to fix it so's I can spit in anybody's eye," his character announces in Born To Kill. Tierney achieved that wish in his own life by never blunting his hard edges. Producer: Sid Rogell, Herman Schlom Director: Robert Wise Screenplay: Eve Greene, Richard Macaulay, James Gunn (novel) Cinematography: Robert De Grasse Film Editing: Les Millbrook Art Direction: Albert S. D'Agostino, Walter E. Keller Music: Paul Sawtell Cast: Claire Trevor (Helen Brent), Lawrence Tierney (Sam Wilde), Walter Slezak (Albert Arnett), Phillip Terry (Fred Grover), Audrey Long (Georgia Staples), Elisha Cook, Jr. (Marty Waterman). BW-92m. Closed captioning. by Brian Cady

Robert Wise (1914-2005)


Robert Wise, who died at age 91 on September 14, was the noted film editor of Citizen Kane (1941) and other movies before he became a producer and director, and all his works are marked by striking visual rhythms. He is best remembered for two enormously popular musicals, West Side Story (1959) and The Sound of Music (1965), which brought him a total of four Oscars® -- each winning for Best Picture and Best Director. (Wise's directorial award for West Side Story was shared with Jerome Robbins.)

Born on September 10, 1914 in Winchester, Ind., Wise was a child of the Depression who quit college to earn a living in the movie industry. He began as an assistant cutter at RKO, where he worked his way up to the position of film editor and earned an Oscar® nomination for his bravura work with Orson Welles on Citizen Kane. He also edited The Magnificent Ambersons (1942) for Welles, along with several other RKO films.

Wise became a director by default when RKO and producer Val Lewton assigned him to The Curse of the Cat People (1944) after Gunther von Fritsch failed to meet the film's production schedule. Wise turned the film into a first-rate psychological thriller, and enjoyed equal success with another Lewton horror film, The Body Snatcher (1945).

Critical praise also was showered upon Wise's Born to Kill (1947), a crime melodrama; and Blood on the Moon (1948), an unusual psychological Western starring Robert Mitchum. Even more highly regarded was The Set-Up (1949), a no-punches-pulled boxing drama that won the Critics' Prize at the Cannes Film Festival. Wise moved on from RKO in the early 1950s, directing one of the movies' classic alien invasion films, The Day the Earth Stood Still, for 20th Century Fox.

At MGM he directed Executive Suite (1954), a compelling all-star boardroom drama; Somebody Up There Likes Me, a film bio of boxer Rocky Graziano that established Paul Newman as a major star; and The Haunting (1963), a chilling haunted-hause melodrama. His films for United Artists include Run Silent, Run Deep (1958), a submarine drama with Clark Gable and Burt Lancaster; I Want to Live! (1958), a harrowing account of a convicted murderess on Death Row, with Susan Hayward in her Oscar-winning performance; and the crime caper Odds Against Tomorrow (1959).

Wise served as president of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and the Directors Guild of America. He was awarded the Academy's Irving G. Thalberg Memorial Award in 1966, and the Directors Guild's highest honor, the D.W. Griffith Award, in 1988. He remained active as a director through the 1970s. His final film, Rooftops (1989) was a musical with an urban setting that recalled West Side Story.

The films in TCM's salute to Robert Wise are Citizen Kane (1941), The Magnificent Ambersons (1942), The Curse of the Cat People (1944), The Body Snatcher (1945), Born to Kill (1947), Blood on the Moon (1948), The Set-Up (1949), Executive Suite (1954), Somebody Up There Likes Me (1956), Run Silent, Run Deep (1958), B>West Side Story (1959), Odds Against Tomorrow (1959) and The Haunting (1963).

by Roger Fristoe

Robert Wise (1914-2005)

Robert Wise, who died at age 91 on September 14, was the noted film editor of Citizen Kane (1941) and other movies before he became a producer and director, and all his works are marked by striking visual rhythms. He is best remembered for two enormously popular musicals, West Side Story (1959) and The Sound of Music (1965), which brought him a total of four Oscars® -- each winning for Best Picture and Best Director. (Wise's directorial award for West Side Story was shared with Jerome Robbins.) Born on September 10, 1914 in Winchester, Ind., Wise was a child of the Depression who quit college to earn a living in the movie industry. He began as an assistant cutter at RKO, where he worked his way up to the position of film editor and earned an Oscar® nomination for his bravura work with Orson Welles on Citizen Kane. He also edited The Magnificent Ambersons (1942) for Welles, along with several other RKO films. Wise became a director by default when RKO and producer Val Lewton assigned him to The Curse of the Cat People (1944) after Gunther von Fritsch failed to meet the film's production schedule. Wise turned the film into a first-rate psychological thriller, and enjoyed equal success with another Lewton horror film, The Body Snatcher (1945). Critical praise also was showered upon Wise's Born to Kill (1947), a crime melodrama; and Blood on the Moon (1948), an unusual psychological Western starring Robert Mitchum. Even more highly regarded was The Set-Up (1949), a no-punches-pulled boxing drama that won the Critics' Prize at the Cannes Film Festival. Wise moved on from RKO in the early 1950s, directing one of the movies' classic alien invasion films, The Day the Earth Stood Still, for 20th Century Fox. At MGM he directed Executive Suite (1954), a compelling all-star boardroom drama; Somebody Up There Likes Me, a film bio of boxer Rocky Graziano that established Paul Newman as a major star; and The Haunting (1963), a chilling haunted-hause melodrama. His films for United Artists include Run Silent, Run Deep (1958), a submarine drama with Clark Gable and Burt Lancaster; I Want to Live! (1958), a harrowing account of a convicted murderess on Death Row, with Susan Hayward in her Oscar-winning performance; and the crime caper Odds Against Tomorrow (1959). Wise served as president of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and the Directors Guild of America. He was awarded the Academy's Irving G. Thalberg Memorial Award in 1966, and the Directors Guild's highest honor, the D.W. Griffith Award, in 1988. He remained active as a director through the 1970s. His final film, Rooftops (1989) was a musical with an urban setting that recalled West Side Story. The films in TCM's salute to Robert Wise are Citizen Kane (1941), The Magnificent Ambersons (1942), The Curse of the Cat People (1944), The Body Snatcher (1945), Born to Kill (1947), Blood on the Moon (1948), The Set-Up (1949), Executive Suite (1954), Somebody Up There Likes Me (1956), Run Silent, Run Deep (1958), B>West Side Story (1959), Odds Against Tomorrow (1959) and The Haunting (1963). by Roger Fristoe

TCM Remembers - Lawrence Tierney


A SCREEN TOUGH GUY WHO WAS MEANER THAN A JUNKYARD DOG

Lawrence Tierney, one of the screen's toughest tough guys, died February 26th at the age of 82. He first startled audiences with his impassioned work in the 1940s but Tierney's rowdy off-screen life eventually pushed him out of the limelight. Though he kept working in small parts, Tierney found a new generation of fans with a few memorable roles in the 80s and 90s.

Tierney was born March 15, 1919 in Brooklyn, New York. He grew up in New York and was a track star in school before becoming interested in acting. (His two brothers also became actors though they changed their names to Scott Brady and Ed Tracy.) He went through the usual period of stage appearances before getting bit parts in little-remembered films. His first credited role was in Sing Your Worries Away (1942) but Tierney quickly made his mark playing the title role in Dillinger (1945). A string of memorable roles followed in films like San Quentin (1946), The Devil Thumbs a Ride (1947), Born to Kill (1947) and the Oscar-winning circus drama from director Cecil B. DeMille, The Greatest Show on Earth (1952) in which Tierney played the villain responsible for the epic train wreck toward the film's conclusion. However, Tierney had a knack for real-life trouble and was arrested several times for disorderly conduct and drunken driving. By the end of the 50s he only found sporadic acting work, sometimes not working for several years between films. During this period his best-known work was in Custer of the West (1967) and Andy Warhol's Bad (1977).

Slowly in the 1980s, Tierney landed small but frequently noticable parts in Hollywood films such as Prizzi's Honor (1985) and The Naked Gun (1988). He appeared on TV shows like Hill Street Blues, Star Trek: The Next Generation and Seinfeld (as Elaine's father). In 1992 that changed when Quentin Tarrantino cast Tierney as the crime boss in Reservoir Dogs, an unforgettable part that gave him new fans. While the subsequent roles or films didn't get any bigger, Tierney was finally a recognized name. One of his oddest roles was the half-hour Red (1993) based on the infamous mid-70s Tube Bar tapes where a real-life bar owner responds with startlingly over-the-top remarks to prank phone calls. (If that sounds familiar it's because The Simpsons based Moe's responses to prank calls on these tapes. Tierney provided a voice in the 1995 Simpsons episode "Marge Be Not Proud.") Tierney's last film appearance was in Armageddon (1998)!

By Lang Thompson

CHUCK JONES, 1912 - 2002

Animator Chuck Jones died February 22nd at the age of 89. Jones may not have boasted quite the name recognition of Howard Hawks or John Ford but he was unquestionably one of the greatest American directors. His goals might have been primarily to entertain, which he did so wonderfully that his 50 and 60 year old cartoons seem fresher than most anything produced in the 21st century. But Jones displayed a sense of movement, timing and character barely equalled elsewhere. Literary critics have a saying that while there are no perfect novels there are certainly flawless short stories. Several of Jones' cartoons reach a perfection that Hawks and Ford could only have dreamed about.

Jones was born September 21, 1912 in Spokane, Washington but grew up in Hollywood. As a child he would watch films by Charlie Chaplin and others being made in the streets, absorbing the process and supposedly even appearing as an extra in Mack Sennett shorts. After graduating from L.A.'s Chouinard Art Institute (now California Institute of the Arts), Jones started selling pencil drawings on street corners. He soon landed a job in 1932 with ground-breaking animator Ub Iwerks as a cel washer (somebody who removes ink from the expensive celluloid frames so they could be reused). The following year Jones began to work for Leon Schlesinger Productions which was sold to Warner Brothers. There he directed his first film, The Night Watchman in 1938.

Jones would stay at Warners for almost 25 years until it closed the animation division. Here is where Jones did some of his most-beloved work, putting Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, the Road Runner, Marvin Martian and numerous others through many of their most memorable exploits. Who can forget Bugs and Daffy's hilariously convoluted arguments about hunting season in Rabbit Seasoning (1952) and Duck Rabbit Duck (1953)? Or the Coyote's tantalized, endless pursuit of the Road Runner? What's Opera Doc? (1957) sending Elmer and Bugs to Bayreuth? A cheerfully singing and dancing frog that, alas, only performs for one frustrated man? Daffy tormented by the very elements of the cartoon medium in Duck Amuck (1953)? That's only a fraction of what Jones created while at the Warners animation studio, affectionately known as Termite Terrace. This building on the Warners lot boasted an array of individualist talents that Jones, like Duke Ellington, could pull into a whole. There was voice artist Mel Blanc's impeccable timing, writer Michael Maltese's absurdist love affair with language, music director Carl Stalling's collaged scores and perhaps best of all a studio that knew enough to just leave the gang alone so long as the cartoons kept coming.

After Warners shuttered its animation division in 1962, Jones moved to MGM where he worked on several Tom & Jerry cartoons, his inimitable lines always immediately apparent. In 1966 he directed How the Grinch Stole Christmas from Dr. Seuss' book, one of the finest literary adaptations. A feature version of Norman Juster's classic The Phantom Tollbooth followed in 1969. Along with his daughter Linda, Jones was one of the first to see the value of original animation art and in the late 70s began a thriving business. (For more info see http://www.chuckjones.com.) Jones made cameo appearances in Joe Dante's Gremlins (1984) and Innerspace (1987). In 1989, he wrote a touching and funny memoir, Chuck Amuck, that's pretty much essential reading.

Jones won an Best Short Subject Cartoons Oscar for The Dot and the Line (1965), having earlier been nominated twice in 1962. His Pepe LePew film For Scent-imental Reasons (1949) and public-health cartoon So Much for So Little also won Oscars though not for Jones himself. In 1996 he was awarded an honorary Oscar "for the creation of classic cartoons and cartoon characters whose animated lives have brought joy to our real ones for more than a half century."

By Lang Thompson

GEORGE NADER, 1921 - 2002

Actor George Nader, best known for the B-movie anti-classic Robot Monster, died February 4th at the age of 80. One-time co-star Tony Curtis said, "He was one of the kindest and most generous men I've ever known. I will miss him." Nader was born in Pasadena, California on October 19, 1921 and like many other actors started performing while in school. His first film appearance was the B-Western Rustlers on Horseback (1950) and he made other appearances, often uncredited, before the immortal Robot Monster in 1953. This dust-cheap, charmingly inept film (originally in 3-D!) features Nader as the father of Earth's last surviving family, everybody else having been wiped out by a gorilla in a diving helmet. Shortly after, Nader landed major roles in RKO's Carnival Story (1954) and with Curtis in Universal's Six Bridges to Cross (1955), bringing a beefy charm that earned him numerous fans. As a result, in 1955 Nader shared a Golden Globe for Most Promising Male Newcomer. He then appeared in numerous lower profile studio films before closing out the decade playing Ellery Queen in a short-lived TV series. He relocated to Europe in the sixties where he found steady work. As secret agent Jerry Cotton, he made a series of spy thrillers which earned him a cult reputation in Europe, starting with Schusse aud dem Geigenkasten (aka Operation Hurricane: Friday Noon) (1965). The eighth and final entry in the series was Dynamit in gruner Seide (aka Dynamite in Green Silk) (1968). His film career ended in the mid-70s when a car wreck damaged his eyes so that he could no longer endure a film set's bright lights. Nader began writing novels, most notably the recently reprinted Chrome (1978), an acclaimed science fiction novel with openly gay characters.

By Lang Thompson

TCM REMEMBERS HAROLD RUSSELL, 1914 - 2002

Oscar-winning actor Harold Russell died January 29th of a heart attack at age 88. As a disabled veteran whose hands had been amputated in The Best Years of Our Lives (1946), Russell won Best Supporting Actor but also an honorary award "for bringing hope and courage to his fellow veterans." This made Russell the only person to receive two Oscars for the same role. Russell was born in Nova Scotia on January 14, 1914 but grew up in Cambridge Massachusetts. He joined the US Army after the attack on Pearl Harbor and while training paratroopers lost both hands in an accidental explosion. He then made a training film where director William Wyler saw Russell. Wyler was so impressed that he changed the character in The Best Years of Our Lives from a man with neurological damage to an amputee so that Russell could play the part. After winning the Oscar, Russell followed Wyler's advice and went to college, eventually running a public relations company and writing his autobiography. He made two more film appearances, Inside Moves (1980) and Dogtown (1997), and appeared in a few TV episodes of China Beach and Trapper John MD. Russell made waves in 1992 when he decided to sell his acting Oscar to help cover expenses of his large family. The Motion Picture Academy offered to buy the statue for $20,000 but it sold to an anonymous bidder for $60,000. About the other statute, Russell said, "I'd never sell the special one. The war was over, and this was the industry's way of saying thank you to the veterans."

By Lang Thompson

TCM Remembers - Lawrence Tierney

A SCREEN TOUGH GUY WHO WAS MEANER THAN A JUNKYARD DOG Lawrence Tierney, one of the screen's toughest tough guys, died February 26th at the age of 82. He first startled audiences with his impassioned work in the 1940s but Tierney's rowdy off-screen life eventually pushed him out of the limelight. Though he kept working in small parts, Tierney found a new generation of fans with a few memorable roles in the 80s and 90s. Tierney was born March 15, 1919 in Brooklyn, New York. He grew up in New York and was a track star in school before becoming interested in acting. (His two brothers also became actors though they changed their names to Scott Brady and Ed Tracy.) He went through the usual period of stage appearances before getting bit parts in little-remembered films. His first credited role was in Sing Your Worries Away (1942) but Tierney quickly made his mark playing the title role in Dillinger (1945). A string of memorable roles followed in films like San Quentin (1946), The Devil Thumbs a Ride (1947), Born to Kill (1947) and the Oscar-winning circus drama from director Cecil B. DeMille, The Greatest Show on Earth (1952) in which Tierney played the villain responsible for the epic train wreck toward the film's conclusion. However, Tierney had a knack for real-life trouble and was arrested several times for disorderly conduct and drunken driving. By the end of the 50s he only found sporadic acting work, sometimes not working for several years between films. During this period his best-known work was in Custer of the West (1967) and Andy Warhol's Bad (1977). Slowly in the 1980s, Tierney landed small but frequently noticable parts in Hollywood films such as Prizzi's Honor (1985) and The Naked Gun (1988). He appeared on TV shows like Hill Street Blues, Star Trek: The Next Generation and Seinfeld (as Elaine's father). In 1992 that changed when Quentin Tarrantino cast Tierney as the crime boss in Reservoir Dogs, an unforgettable part that gave him new fans. While the subsequent roles or films didn't get any bigger, Tierney was finally a recognized name. One of his oddest roles was the half-hour Red (1993) based on the infamous mid-70s Tube Bar tapes where a real-life bar owner responds with startlingly over-the-top remarks to prank phone calls. (If that sounds familiar it's because The Simpsons based Moe's responses to prank calls on these tapes. Tierney provided a voice in the 1995 Simpsons episode "Marge Be Not Proud.") Tierney's last film appearance was in Armageddon (1998)! By Lang Thompson CHUCK JONES, 1912 - 2002 Animator Chuck Jones died February 22nd at the age of 89. Jones may not have boasted quite the name recognition of Howard Hawks or John Ford but he was unquestionably one of the greatest American directors. His goals might have been primarily to entertain, which he did so wonderfully that his 50 and 60 year old cartoons seem fresher than most anything produced in the 21st century. But Jones displayed a sense of movement, timing and character barely equalled elsewhere. Literary critics have a saying that while there are no perfect novels there are certainly flawless short stories. Several of Jones' cartoons reach a perfection that Hawks and Ford could only have dreamed about. Jones was born September 21, 1912 in Spokane, Washington but grew up in Hollywood. As a child he would watch films by Charlie Chaplin and others being made in the streets, absorbing the process and supposedly even appearing as an extra in Mack Sennett shorts. After graduating from L.A.'s Chouinard Art Institute (now California Institute of the Arts), Jones started selling pencil drawings on street corners. He soon landed a job in 1932 with ground-breaking animator Ub Iwerks as a cel washer (somebody who removes ink from the expensive celluloid frames so they could be reused). The following year Jones began to work for Leon Schlesinger Productions which was sold to Warner Brothers. There he directed his first film, The Night Watchman in 1938. Jones would stay at Warners for almost 25 years until it closed the animation division. Here is where Jones did some of his most-beloved work, putting Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, the Road Runner, Marvin Martian and numerous others through many of their most memorable exploits. Who can forget Bugs and Daffy's hilariously convoluted arguments about hunting season in Rabbit Seasoning (1952) and Duck Rabbit Duck (1953)? Or the Coyote's tantalized, endless pursuit of the Road Runner? What's Opera Doc? (1957) sending Elmer and Bugs to Bayreuth? A cheerfully singing and dancing frog that, alas, only performs for one frustrated man? Daffy tormented by the very elements of the cartoon medium in Duck Amuck (1953)? That's only a fraction of what Jones created while at the Warners animation studio, affectionately known as Termite Terrace. This building on the Warners lot boasted an array of individualist talents that Jones, like Duke Ellington, could pull into a whole. There was voice artist Mel Blanc's impeccable timing, writer Michael Maltese's absurdist love affair with language, music director Carl Stalling's collaged scores and perhaps best of all a studio that knew enough to just leave the gang alone so long as the cartoons kept coming. After Warners shuttered its animation division in 1962, Jones moved to MGM where he worked on several Tom & Jerry cartoons, his inimitable lines always immediately apparent. In 1966 he directed How the Grinch Stole Christmas from Dr. Seuss' book, one of the finest literary adaptations. A feature version of Norman Juster's classic The Phantom Tollbooth followed in 1969. Along with his daughter Linda, Jones was one of the first to see the value of original animation art and in the late 70s began a thriving business. (For more info see http://www.chuckjones.com.) Jones made cameo appearances in Joe Dante's Gremlins (1984) and Innerspace (1987). In 1989, he wrote a touching and funny memoir, Chuck Amuck, that's pretty much essential reading. Jones won an Best Short Subject Cartoons Oscar for The Dot and the Line (1965), having earlier been nominated twice in 1962. His Pepe LePew film For Scent-imental Reasons (1949) and public-health cartoon So Much for So Little also won Oscars though not for Jones himself. In 1996 he was awarded an honorary Oscar "for the creation of classic cartoons and cartoon characters whose animated lives have brought joy to our real ones for more than a half century." By Lang Thompson GEORGE NADER, 1921 - 2002 Actor George Nader, best known for the B-movie anti-classic Robot Monster, died February 4th at the age of 80. One-time co-star Tony Curtis said, "He was one of the kindest and most generous men I've ever known. I will miss him." Nader was born in Pasadena, California on October 19, 1921 and like many other actors started performing while in school. His first film appearance was the B-Western Rustlers on Horseback (1950) and he made other appearances, often uncredited, before the immortal Robot Monster in 1953. This dust-cheap, charmingly inept film (originally in 3-D!) features Nader as the father of Earth's last surviving family, everybody else having been wiped out by a gorilla in a diving helmet. Shortly after, Nader landed major roles in RKO's Carnival Story (1954) and with Curtis in Universal's Six Bridges to Cross (1955), bringing a beefy charm that earned him numerous fans. As a result, in 1955 Nader shared a Golden Globe for Most Promising Male Newcomer. He then appeared in numerous lower profile studio films before closing out the decade playing Ellery Queen in a short-lived TV series. He relocated to Europe in the sixties where he found steady work. As secret agent Jerry Cotton, he made a series of spy thrillers which earned him a cult reputation in Europe, starting with Schusse aud dem Geigenkasten (aka Operation Hurricane: Friday Noon) (1965). The eighth and final entry in the series was Dynamit in gruner Seide (aka Dynamite in Green Silk) (1968). His film career ended in the mid-70s when a car wreck damaged his eyes so that he could no longer endure a film set's bright lights. Nader began writing novels, most notably the recently reprinted Chrome (1978), an acclaimed science fiction novel with openly gay characters. By Lang Thompson TCM REMEMBERS HAROLD RUSSELL, 1914 - 2002 Oscar-winning actor Harold Russell died January 29th of a heart attack at age 88. As a disabled veteran whose hands had been amputated in The Best Years of Our Lives (1946), Russell won Best Supporting Actor but also an honorary award "for bringing hope and courage to his fellow veterans." This made Russell the only person to receive two Oscars for the same role. Russell was born in Nova Scotia on January 14, 1914 but grew up in Cambridge Massachusetts. He joined the US Army after the attack on Pearl Harbor and while training paratroopers lost both hands in an accidental explosion. He then made a training film where director William Wyler saw Russell. Wyler was so impressed that he changed the character in The Best Years of Our Lives from a man with neurological damage to an amputee so that Russell could play the part. After winning the Oscar, Russell followed Wyler's advice and went to college, eventually running a public relations company and writing his autobiography. He made two more film appearances, Inside Moves (1980) and Dogtown (1997), and appeared in a few TV episodes of China Beach and Trapper John MD. Russell made waves in 1992 when he decided to sell his acting Oscar to help cover expenses of his large family. The Motion Picture Academy offered to buy the statue for $20,000 but it sold to an anonymous bidder for $60,000. About the other statute, Russell said, "I'd never sell the special one. The war was over, and this was the industry's way of saying thank you to the veterans." By Lang Thompson

Quotes

Trivia

Notes

The working title of this film was Deadlier Than the Male. According to a Hollywood Reporter news items, Tallulah Bankhead was first considered for the role of "Helen Brent." Hollywood Reporter also noted that some scenes for the picture were shot in San Francisco and at El Segundo beach in Southern California. According to information contained in the MPAA/PCA files at AMPAS, PCA director Joseph I. Breen described this film as "the kind of story which ought not to be made because it is a story of gross lust and shocking brutality, and ruthlessness." To win PCA approval of the script, RKO toned down the violence of some scenes and made clear to the audience that Lawrence Tierney's character was insane.

Miscellaneous Notes

Released in United States on Video October 16, 1991

Released in United States Spring May 3, 1947

Completed shooting June 21, 1946.

Released in United States Spring May 3, 1947

Released in United States on Video October 16, 1991