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Born Reckless
IMDB Rating: 5.5/10 from PASSED votes
Release: 06 Jun 1930 /

Born Reckless

Genre: Crime, Drama, Film-Noir
Director: Andrew Bennison, John Ford,
Stars: , ,
Synopsis: Hoping to use the publicity to get re-elected, a judge sentences a notorious gangster to fight in the war.

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Critic Reviews


With such fluid epics as "The Iron Horse" (1924), "Lightnin'" (1925), "Hangman's House" and "Four Sons" (both 1928) in his resume, it is surprising that Fox would encumber Ford with a dialogue director over and over, but Fox did. In '29's "The Black Watch" it was Lumsden Hare. Andrew Bennison is credited with the stage direction of "Men Without Women" released January 1930. Judging from the result Bennison achieved in "Born Reckless" (released in May 1930), I'm astonished anyone would have given him a second chance.

The photoplay opens with a traveling camera shot of a parade. The camera prowls into a jewelry store where a heist is in progress. Outside, the cops "get wise" when a stolen truck is discovered. An exiting shootout and chase ensues, with our hero, Louis Berretti, gaining refuge at his parents' apartment. Then Bennison's stuff takes over. Well, molasses in Anchorage moves better and the pace of the film congeals. Berretti faces justice (eventually) and is "sentenced" to join the war effort overseas. John Ford stages some excellent sequences here, with Berretti's approbatory service delivering him home a hero. He opens a nightclub which, unfortunately, keeps Berretti rubbing elbows with his old mob and allows plenty scenes filled with Bennison-helmed hubris. The dialogue is not only awkward with head-shaking gaps, but has characters with names like Big Shot putting people "on the spot" [murdered].

Audiences of 1930 could not fast forward but you can and should. Edmund Lowe's performance is nothing like the smooth "Chandu" of a year later and probably should be skipped over to view Ford's impressive set pieces. The swamp at the picture's conclusion cribs Fox's "Sunrise" but remains impressive for an early talkie. I gave it a 7 for Ford's contributions. On the whole, though, this is the kind of film that gave early TV viewers a bad taste for early talkies. Viewers beware.

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