Cast & Crew
Paul L. Stein
Louise Closser Hale
In war-torn London, in 1919, Red Cross nurse Doris Kendall meets Captain Barry Craig, an American Army Air Corps officer, and soon falls in love with him. On the night before he is to ship out, Barry proposes marriage, but Doris refuses him, saying that if they marry, she will be sent back to America. Instead, the couple spends the night together and says a hopeful but sad goodbye the next morning. Soon after, Doris receives a letter from Leslie Darrow, Barry's friend, which states that Barry is missing in action and assumed dead. Devastated, Doris finds comfort in her longtime admirer and former patient, Sir Wilfred Drake, who invites her to recuperate at his aunt Agatha and uncle James's country estate. Later, on Armistice Day, Wilfred declares his love and proposes to Doris, who rejects him because she is pregnant by Barry. In spite of Doris' protests, Wilfred insists that they marry, and Doris finally agrees. Soon after the baby is born, Doris, now Lady Drake, receives a phone call from Barry, who has just arrived from France where he had been recovering from a serious war injury. Numb with surprise, Doris goes to see Barry and soon discovers that her love for him still thrives. For the sake of her child, Doris rejects Barry's plea that they run away together and returns to Wilfred. That night, Wilfred, sensing Doris' revived passion, rails against her and decides to divorce her, taking complete custody of the child. Two years later, Doris, who is now living in a roominghouse, receives permission from Wilfred to visit her son. On her way to the estate, Doris meets Barry, who has heard of her divorce, and once again, she rejects him. When she arrives at Wilfred's, however, she finds her son dead and her husband gutted by guilt. After wandering the streets on the verge of suicide, Doris finally ends up in the loving, faithful arms of Barry.
Paul L. Stein
Louise Closser Hale
Born to Love
Constance Bennett was a major star at the time Born to Love was in production. She had signed with Pathé (which later became RKO) in 1929, where she was powerful enough to force the studio to drop two other young blondes under contract who she saw as potential competition, Diane Ellis (who died the next year while on her honeymoon in India) and future star Carole Lombard. Joel McCrea was rising through the ranks of young actors in Hollywood and Born to Love was his first starring role, having won the part over Ray Milland and Gilbert Roland (who Bennett later married).
While visiting her friend Marion Davies at the ranch Davies shared with her married lover, publisher William Randolph Hearst, Constance Bennett brought with her the three screen tests. The other guests (who also included Joel McCrea) gathered in Hearst's private movie theater at San Simeon and watched each test. After seeing his competition McCrea was certain that Roland would get the part, but the next day, Bennett told him that it was his. Not long after, rumors began to fly around Hollywood that Bennett and McCrea were more than just co-stars. McCrea later said that despite her reputation for being "a bitch" and hard to work with, Constance Bennett "was just doggone nice to me."
Born to Love went into production in January and was already in theaters in late April 1931, a time when studios were making sexier films in order to lure cash-strapped audiences back into the theaters during The Great Depression. These films often featured "fallen women" and unwed mothers, both of which Bennett played frequently. Born to Love, with its emphasis on pre-martial sex and illegitimate children, could not have been made with the same frankness three years later, when the Production Code was enforced in late 1933-early 1934. The Code was enacted by the Motion Picture Producers and Directors Association to avoid governmental censorship and lost revenue due to bans by both religious and social groups who were demanding that producers make films more family friendly.
Mordaunt Hall, writing for The New York Times praised the performances and called the film "smooth and rather attractive entertainment, remarkable chiefly for its generally adult outlook on things and for a certain quiet restraint in its more tempestuously dramatic moments." Audiences agreed and Born to Love made a very respectable $649,000 at the box-office and confirmed to RKO that Bennett and McCrea were a strong screen team.
Director: Paul L. Stein
Screenplay: Ernest Pascal
Cinematography: John Mescall
Art Direction: Carroll Clark
Music: Francis Gromon (uncredited)
Film Editing: Claude Berkeley
Cast: Constance Bennett (Doris Kendall), Joel McCrea (Captain Barry Craig), Paul Cavanagh (Sir Wilfred Drake), Frederick Kerr (Lord James Ponsonby), Louise Closser Hale (Lady Agatha Ponsonby), Anthony Bushell (Leslie Darrow).
by Lorraine LoBianco
Hall, Mordaunt. "The Screen: Born to Love" The New York Times 25 Apr 31.
Kellow, Brian. The Bennetts: An Acting Family
Mintz, Steven and Roberts, Randy. Hollywood's America: Twentieth-Century America Through Film
Born to Love
The working title of this film was Lost Love. Variety suggests that Born to Love was a remake of a silent film made by First National. However, no evidence that the story was previously filmed has been found. Modern sources add the following cast members: Eddy Chandler (Captain Peters), Robert Greig (Hansom cabby), Olaf Hytten (Aide to Major General) and Bill Elliott (Man at hotel desk).