IMDb > Borderline (1930)

Borderline (1930) More at IMDbPro »

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Kenneth MacPherson (written by)
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Release Date:
13 October 1930 (UK) See more »
A negro woman having an adulterous affair with a white man causes his wife to go mad and re-enforces the towns-folk's prejudice against Negroes. Full summary » | Add synopsis »
User Reviews:
Lack of adequate inter-titles make this silent film about inter-racial love and racism hard to appreciate, but Paul Robeson is always a pleasure to watch. See more (10 total) »


  (in credits order) (complete, awaiting verification)

Paul Robeson ... Pete - a Negro
Eslanda Robeson ... Adah - a Negro Woman
Hilda Doolittle ... Astrid (as Helga Doorn)
Gavin Arthur ... Thorne - Her Husband
Charlotte Arthur ... The Barmaid
Blanche Lewin ... The Old Lady
rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Winifred Ellerman ... (uncredited)

Directed by
Kenneth MacPherson  (as Kenneth Macpherson)
Writing credits
Kenneth MacPherson (written by) (as Kenneth Macpherson)

Produced by
Bryher MacPherson .... producer
Kenneth MacPherson .... producer
Crew believed to be complete

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Additional Details

Also Known As:
63 min
Aspect Ratio:
1.33 : 1 See more »
Sound Mix:
Filming Locations:


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4 out of 7 people found the following review useful.
Lack of adequate inter-titles make this silent film about inter-racial love and racism hard to appreciate, but Paul Robeson is always a pleasure to watch., 23 October 1998
Author: Arthur Hausner ( from Pine Grove, California

This experimental silent film, made in Switzerland by an independent British film company, is chiefly remembered as Paul Robeson's first film. It's very artistic, with shots often seeming meaningless to the story, which is difficult to understand anyway because of the lack of enough inter-titles. From what I gathered, Robeson's wife, Adah, is in an inter-racial love affair with a white man called Thorne. It doesn't bother the cigar-chomping owner of the bar/hotel where Thorne lives (and she seems to be having a lesbian relationship with a barmaid), but an old lady expresses the town's point of view in an inter-title: "If I had my way, we wouldn't allow negroes in here." Thorne is also called "nigger lover" by someone in the bar. Adah tries a reconciliation with Pete (Robeson), but eventually leaves him. Thorne's wife, Astrid, goes off the deep end, brandishes a knife, cuts Thorne's arm and cheek, and somehow dies. Thorne must have been accused of murder because we learn he was acquitted. As for Pete, he gets a letter from the mayor telling him it is best for everyone that he leave town. So the film is more about racism than anything, but in an up note, the owner tells Pete "The sad thing is, they think they're right. That's the way we are." The meaning of the title is a mystery. It may refer to Adah being light-skinned (a borderline negro) or to the borderline behavior of of the main characters.

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