Review: ‘Border Incident’

Produced on a modest budget, pic wraps a conventional yarn within a semi-documentary casing. Film is handicapped by a screenplay which treats the important subject of illegal immigration into the US with a naive cop-and-robbers approach. Anthony Mann, who was brought over to the Metro lot after his standout job on He Walked by Night, for Eagle Lion, succeeds in imparting some tautness to the action but the pic never breaks out of its formula framework.

Produced on a modest budget, pic wraps a conventional yarn within a semi-documentary casing. Film is handicapped by a screenplay which treats the important subject of illegal immigration into the US with a naive cop-and-robbers approach. Anthony Mann, who was brought over to the Metro lot after his standout job on He Walked by Night, for Eagle Lion, succeeds in imparting some tautness to the action but the pic never breaks out of its formula framework.

Yarn [by John C. Higgins and George Zuckerman] opens strongly with a depicition of the plight of Mexican laborers who annually migrate north for work on US farms. Filmed on location, this section has an authentic quality and impact. When the plot, however, switches to tracking down a ring of border-running racketeers, the film unfortunately takes on the unconvincing flavor of an old-fashioned melodrama.

Both George Murphy, as the US agent, and Ricardo Montalban, as the Mexican counterpart, enter the ring to smash it from the inside. Murphy, however, is found out and is cruelly murdered under a plowing machine.

Murphy and Montalban turn in effective, hard-hitting performances in a yarn that contains no romantic angles. As the chief heavy, Howard da Silva makes a menacing smoothie.

Border Incident

Production

Director Anthony Mann; Producer Nicholas Nayfack; Screenplay John C. Higgins; Camera John Alton; Editor Conrad A. Nervig; Music Andre Previn (dir.); Art Director Cedric Gibbons, Hans Peters

Crew

(B&W) Extract of a review from 1949. Running time: 92 MIN.

With

Ricardo Montalban George Murphy Howard da Silva James Mitchell Arnold Moss Alfonso Bedoya)
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