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Born to Be Wild (1938)

Approved | | Action, Comedy, Drama | 16 February 1938 (USA)
Truck drivers Steve Hackett and Bill Purvis are fired from their jobs with the West Coast Trucking company for not using second-gear going down steep grades. Davis, the company ... See full summary »


Joseph Kane (as Joe Kane)


Nathanael West (original screenplay)




Cast overview, first billed only:
Ralph Byrd ... Steve Hackett
Doris Weston ... Mary Stevens
Ward Bond ... Bill Purvis
Robert Emmett Keane ... J. Stearns Davis
Ben Hewlett Ben Hewlett ... Wilson (as Bentley Hewett)
Charles Williams Charles Williams ... Company Spotter
Davison Clark Davison Clark ... Stranger
Byron Foulger ... Husband
George Anderson George Anderson ... Mayor
Edwin Stanley Edwin Stanley ... Randolph
Ben Hendricks Jr. Ben Hendricks Jr. ... Deputy
Sterlita Peluffo Sterlita Peluffo ... Manuela (as Stelita)
Lew Kelly Lew Kelly ... Reilly - Diner Counterman
Harrison Greene Harrison Greene ... J. Carroll Malloy
George Magrill ... Hank


Truck drivers Steve Hackett and Bill Purvis are fired from their jobs with the West Coast Trucking company for not using second-gear going down steep grades. Davis, the company vice-president, surprisingly asks them to carry a load of merchandise to Arrowhead and offers a $1000 bonus. He tells them it is a load of lettuce. Several miles out of Los Angelese, they are stopped by a mob of lettuce-farm workers on strike. When the first crate is tossed off the truck, it explodes and the two pals learn their merchandise is a cargo of dynamite. The workers let them proceed and they crash into a car driven by Mary Stevens, whom they had met at a restaurant. She and her dog, "Butch" (played by a Credited dog named Stooge), join them and they deliver their cargo, and learn unscrupulous real-estate operators have jammed the locks on the dam in order to ruin the ranchers and farmers and take over their property. Written by Les Adams <longhorn1939@suddenlink.net>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


GANGLAND RIDES the HIGHWAY! (original poster) See more »


Action | Comedy | Drama | Music


Approved | See all certifications »






Release Date:

16 February 1938 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Nasceu para ser Selvagem See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Republic Pictures (I) See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs



Sound Mix:

Mono (RCA Victor High Fidelity Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


Edited into The Monolith Monsters (1957) See more »


Written by Eduardo Durant, Harold Peterson & Carlos Ruffino
Sung and danced by Sterlita Peluffo (as Stelita)
See more »

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User Reviews

Boring and talky but a bit of a curiosity
31 January 2009 | by stevenfallonnycSee all my reviews

Truth be told, "Born To Be Wild" is not a good film, but there are much worse. Starting with the title - it seems to fit a JD flick or a biker flick better than it does in this trucker's movie, as really, who exactly is 'born to be wild?' It certainly isn't the truck driving stars, who aren't that wild at all. Matter of fact, one just wants to sleep, and the other breaks out in song at weird times! What kind of songs? Truck driving songs of course! The plot - our two "wild" drivers are hired to haul a truckload of lettuce (which is really dynamite) for a grand (each? never specified) while bad guys of some sort try to stop them. It all gets revealed in the film's last ten minutes, in a confusing array of nonsense which you are not going to care about.

As they are hauling, you'll see it's mostly a dull trip. There is a LOT of talking, and it's all that 1930's real fast "witty" talk that either cracks you up, makes you roll your eyes, up, or both. There is a good quick scene where their truck smashes a car.

The pretty girl they pick up is kind of a secret agent, or double agent, or, well, who cares. It's explained later but by then even though the movie is just over an hour, you are too exhausted to care who is who and why.

There is some interesting miniature special effects work at the end which is fun to see. The film also has probably the worst and least convincing "fake background scenery scenes as we show the people driving" scenes ever done.

"Born To Be Wild" isn't wild at all, but may interest you if you are feeling sick on an afternoon where you have NOTHING better to watch on hand for a little while.

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