There were a lot of movies made in the ’30s. Many of them turn up on Turner Classic Movies and even Fox Movie Channel from time to time, but by and large, they all pull from the same pool of films with “name” actors and directors of the day. There are a bunch that never got “names” and probably languish in a vault somewhere, probably decaying beyond repair. There are probably hours of spectacular classic Hollywood fur fashion footage that will never be seen again. No, as much as it sounds like it, this isn’t a pitch for you to donate to a film preservation society (though you could, I wouldn’t stop you); this is an intro to the 1937 film Born Reckless.
Born Reckless – The Film
There’s pretty much no one on the roster of Born Reckless whose name is remotely familiar to me. Somehow it ended up on Fox Movie Channel, though. It’s the story of a former race car driver joining a cab company run by Sybil Roberts (Rochelle Hudson), who is being muscled for protection by racketeers who want to take over all the town’s cab companies by taking out their cabs with armored cars. Hey, that’s how I’d do it.
Born Reckless – The Furs
They did not skimp on the costume budget for what is essentially a “B” movie of the period. Sybil Roberts, the cab company owner, is apparently doing quite well for herself despite her problems with the mob. She’s not the only one, though. A variety of very nice fox coats abound in this obscure little film.
As we open, these two ladies are rooting for ace race car driver Bob “Hurry” Kane (Brian Donlevy) to win his race.
You won’t expect them to be the “gold digger” type in coats outfitted with sumptuous fox collars. That’s what I love about 30’s films; even the girls out to get rich were still draped in huge fox furs.
Bob Kane won the race but squandered his dough on those two pictured above. In a poorly montaged sequence, he even bought them more furs. Out of the racing business and in need of cash, he literally “runs into” Sybil Roberts and her cab on the street.
Bob loads her unconscious driver into the cab and takes her where she needs to go, impressing her with his “taxi cab driving” skills. As Sybil, Rochelle Hudson gets the most furs in the film, starting with this fur-trimmed jacket.
She’s not the only one, though. In a much smaller part in this already small film, Pauline Moore plays the girlfriend of one of Bob Kane’s partners, joining the cab company. She appears in this thickly collared coat as well.
Very briefly, Sybil looks on in this silver fox coat, which may or may not be only a collar, as this is the only shot of it. Poorly framed, the edge of the window hides the cigarette in her gloved hand, though in the film, you will see the smoke play across her face as she watches.
We arrive at the film’s marquee fur, a white fox stroller-length cape. Rochelle Hudson wears this beauty well, as it plays off nicely with her brunette hair.
Thankfully she doesn’t just remain in the car with it this time.
Making up in some small part for the bad angle on the silver fox earlier, we see the white fox cape from front and back.
All this is happening while Bob Kane turns the racketeers’ own armored car against them. Even with a mini-destruction derby occurring, I’d still find Miss Hudson and her cape a far more interesting sight.
Finally, in another very brief appearance, Pauline Moore appears in this fox-trimmed coat for another few seconds. Not exactly “blink, or you’ll miss it,” but not around for very long at all.
Outside of the big white fox cape, there are many very full collars in this film. Sure, it would have been preferable if they were more than just collars, but finding this much fur in such an obscure little film is reason enough to love it, and they’re mostly shot in such a way that the remainder of the coat is a mere afterthought. Just makes me think there’s a whole lot of other hidden gems out there that will never see the light of day.