Review: ‘Bordertown’

Paul Muni is a Mexican, and does it realistically and effectively. He's a kid who's worked hard in night school and finally manages to pass a legal examination in Los Angeles. But he loses his first case and his temper in the courtroom, so he's disbarred.

Paul Muni is a Mexican, and does it realistically and effectively. He’s a kid who’s worked hard in night school and finally manages to pass a legal examination in Los Angeles. But he loses his first case and his temper in the courtroom, so he’s disbarred.

He hitch-hikes to a Mexican bordertown and becomes a power in the gambling sector. Eugene Pallette owns a joint and Muni is his bouncer, then his partner. Pallette’s wife (Bette Davis) goes for Muni, who won’t tumble. She kills her husband to get Muni, and he still won’t play. So she tells the cops he did the murder. In court she goes insane, which frees him. Muni continues building up as a gambler and falls for Dale Elwell (Margaret Lindsay), a society bud. She acknowledges him temporarily and cools him off when he becomes too ambitious.

By this time 80 minutes have been used up and, seemingly, everybody wants it over with as quickly as possible. Finish is phoney, but it can’t hurt the previous good work. Casting throughout the film, which is also well written [from a novel by Carrol Graham] and paced, is exceptionally good.

Bordertown

Production

Warner. Director Archie Mayo; Producer Robert Lord; Screenplay Robert Lord, Laird Doyle, Wallace Smith; Camera Tony Gaudio; Editor Thomas Richards; Music Bernhard Kaun; Art Director Jack Okey

Crew

(B&W) Extract of a review from 1935. Running time: 80 MIN.

With

Paul Muni Bette Davis Margaret Lindsay Eugene Pallette Robert Barrat Hobart Cavanaugh
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