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Bordertown (1935)

Approved | | Crime, Drama | 23 January 1935 (USA)
Johnny Ramirez rises from bouncer to partner in Charlie Roark's border town casino. Charlie's wife Marie loves Johnny, but Johnny loves society woman Dale. Marie kills her husband, making ... See full summary »

Director:

(as Archie L. Mayo)

Writers:

(screen play), (screen play) | 2 more credits »
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Cast

Complete credited cast:
...
...
...
Dale Elwell
...
Charlie Roark
...
Padre
Soledad Jiménez ...
Mrs. Ramirez (as Soledad Jimenez)
Hobart Cavanaugh ...
Harry
Gavin Gordon ...
Brook Manville
...
Dr. Carter (as William Davidson)
Arthur Stone ...
Manuel Diego
Vivian Tobin ...
Mrs. Garner
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Storyline

Johnny Ramirez rises from bouncer to partner in Charlie Roark's border town casino. Charlie's wife Marie loves Johnny, but Johnny loves society woman Dale. Marie kills her husband, making it look like suicide. She tells Johnny she committed murder for him and, still rejected, tells the police that she and Johnny murdered Charlie. She goes crazy in court and Johnny goes free. Dale runs from Johnny and dies in an auto crash. Johnny sells the casino. Written by Ed Stephan <stephan@cc.wwu.edu>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Genres:

Crime | Drama

Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

Language:

|

Release Date:

23 January 1935 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

A Barreira  »

Filming Locations:

 »

Company Credits

Production Co:

 »
Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The footage of the opening street scene of the border town was later re-used as the opening scene of the Mexican town in Code of the Secret Service (1939). A short section of the same scene was also used during the opening Mexicali sequence in The Hitch-Hiker (1953). See more »

Goofs

When Dale and Brook leave the Olvera Street cafe, the camera follows them down the street. Several objects and people pass between them and the camera, and the shadow of the camera falls across several of these. At one point, the shadow of a technician wearing a cap (presumably the camera operator) is plainly visible against a flat surface. See more »

Quotes

Marie Roark: The only fun I get is feeding the goldfish, and they only eat once a day.
See more »

Connections

Featured in All About Bette (1994) See more »

Soundtracks

Somewhere in Your Heart
(1934) (uncredited)
Written by Guy Wood, Bert Van Cleve and Rudy Vallee
Played on the radio when Marie starts to crack
See more »

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User Reviews

 
Rather dull, with an enticing early performance from Bette Davis
30 January 2013 | by (United Kingdom) – See all my reviews

Former crook Juan 'Johnny' Ramirez (Paul Muni) manages to work himself out of his Hispanic slum and become a lawyer. Encouraged by his mother, he sets up his own office and faces his first court case after wealthy socialite Dale Elwell (Margaret Lindsay) crashes her car into the cart of one of Johnny's poor neighbourhood friends. Crushed and embarrassed by Dale's white, costly lawyer Brooke Manville (Gavin Gordon), Johnny attacks him, getting himself disbarred. Vowing to make something of himself in the world, Johnny hitches a ride over the Mexican border, becoming a bouncer and adviser for club owner Charles Roark (Eugene Palette), eventually earning himself a partnership through his wits and business know-how. But Roarke's bored wife Marie (Bette Davis) has other ideas and sets her sights on running her own club, and seducing Johnny to her cause.

This Warner Brothers vehicle for star Paul Muni uses racial stereotypes

  • of which would be highly condemned nowadays - to portray a damning


indictment of the American system and the idea of 'The American Dream'. When Muni is humiliated in court by Manville, he resorts to his fists, something that ethnic minorities back in 1935 no doubt had to do to survive in their slums. It is common knowledge that America, self- declared land of the free, has a brutal history of racial oppression, and Bordertown is impressive in its bravery to tackle a subject when the Hollywood system itself was guilty of neglecting black or ethnic actors. It also dawns on Johnny that America is ultimately ruled by money, and if you rely on honesty and simply doing the right thing, you'll ultimately left licking the shoes of the rich man.

Yet for all it's promise, Bordertown is ultimately rather dull. Muni, one of the finest actors of his generation (and an actor now unfairly left in the shadows of the likes of Cagney and Bogart), is thoroughly unconvincing as Johnny, wildly over-acting and never looking comfortable in make-up and with a dodgy accent (Muni was Jewish). Davis, however, is a revelation in what is perhaps a smaller role than the poster and billing would suggest, puffing smoke through her nostrils like a dragon in one of her early scenes, embodying the icon she would later become. But Bordertown tends to shuffle along aimlessly, passing over a late plot development and fizzling out into nothing, arriving far too late in the day for me to really care.

www.the-wrath-of-blog.blogspot.com


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