A young woman has got a raw deal from her youth, decides to leave her job at a book store searching for money, and becomes a night club dancer, more of a seductress.
She has a seven-year-old kid Mickey, whose father is unknown. She teaches Mickey to lie, steal, and all the things that would make him street smart. Apt to the title of the movie – Born to be Bad
Mickey has an accident when a truck driven by Malcolm Trevor, played by Cary Grant, knocks him down, not severely injured. Knowing Malcolm is rich, Letty, played by Loretta Young, schemes to make money by issuing a lawsuit against Malcolm. She is proven guilty for lying and accused of being a bad mother who taught her son to lie in court and fake his injury.
Mickey is taken away from her. Malcolm and his wife Alice happily accept to raise Mickey as they cannot conceive their child. With time, Mickey is attached to both of them, and this fact makes Letty jealous. She wants Mickey back and also some fortune of Malcolm’s.
She pretends to be sick and seeks refuge at Malcolm’s house when her plan of running away with Mickey fails. She seduces Malcolm and records the conversation to blackmail him. Her dreams turn sour when Malcolm tells Alice about him being in love with Letty, and she accepted it.
Letty learns a lesson in seeing Alice’s selfless love and decides Alice and Malcolm to have Mickey so that he becomes a good man. She returns to her old job at the book shop, and the movie ends there.
However, this movie had other claims to fame. It ran into censorship problems from the start because of skimpy outfits worn by Loretta Young. It was rejected twice by the censor board (Hays office). After several cuts and retakes, this movie was eventually passed and given an approval certificate.
Released in 1934, Born to be Bad was directed by Lowell Sherman.