The Border (1982)

R  |   |  Crime, Drama  |  12 February 1982 (USA)
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Ratings: 6.4/10 from 4,180 users  
Reviews: 37 user | 21 critic

A corrupted border agent decides to clean up his act when an impoverished woman's baby is put up for sale on the black market.


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Cast overview, first billed only:
Manuel Viescas ...
Jeff Morris ...
Lonny Chapman ...
Stacey Pickren ...
Floyd Levine ...
James Jeter ...


U.S. Border Patrol agent Charlie Smith just wants to do a good job and provide for his wife. But between her demands for a more affluent lifestyle and the importuning of Charlie's partner Cat to take part in illegal activities in exchange for bribes, Charlie gets caught up in helping smuggle illegal immigrants across the Texas border. When one of them, a young Mexican girl named Maria, loses her baby to abductors who plan to sell the child, Charlie decides to take a stand for her and against the corruption he's fallen into. Written by Jim Beaver <>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


It divided the land. It divided the man. See more »


Crime | Drama


R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:






Release Date:

12 February 1982 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Grenzpatrouille  »

Filming Locations:


Box Office


$22,000,000 (estimated)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


This picture was inspired by a number of newspaper reports in the 'Los Angeles Times' about illegal Mexican immigrants in the United States. See more »


Charlie Smith: I can't afford a fucking dream house!
See more »


Referenced in Z Channel: A Magnificent Obsession (2004) See more »


Across the Borderline
Written by Jim Dickinson, John Hiatt (as John Hyatt), Ry Cooder
Performed by Freddy Fender (as Freddie Fender)
See more »

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User Reviews

One of Jack Nicholson's most underrated performances, plus Harvey Keitel AND Warren Oates. Why is this movie so obscure?!
3 September 2003 | by (Perth, Australia) – See all my reviews

Jack Nicholson's transition from brilliant character actor to self-parodic superstar happened sometime in the 1980s. 'The Border' is closer to his best 1970s work ('Five Easy Pieces', 'The Last Detail', 'The King Of Marvin Gardens', 'One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest') than to most of his subsequent output. Two of his best performances in recent years have been in movies directed by Sean Penn ('The Crossing Guard' and 'The Pledge'), and 'The Border' reminds me a lot of those. I wonder if Penn is a fan? The director Tony Richardson made his name with British "kitchen sink" dramas and he brings to this Peckinpah-esque material an empathy for "little people" rarely seen in American movies of the 1980s and '90s. Nicholson gives a superb performance, one of his very best. The two women in his life are played by Valerie Perrine and Elpidia Carrillo. The former is best remembered for her appearance in 'Superman' but has acting chops she has rarely been asked to use (see also 'Lenny' alongside Dustin Hoffman). The latter is best known for appearing in the Arnie action classic 'Predator'. Both of them are surprisingly good in this movie. Harvey Keitel is even better. This is one of his "lost" movies - see also 'Fingers', 'Deathwatch' and 'Copkiller' - and seeing him act alongside Nicholson is a real treat. Add to that one of the final roles by the legendary Warren Oates, who had co-starred with Nicholson fifteen years earlier in Monte Hellman's cult western 'The Shooting', and 'The Border' is essential viewing for film buffs. I think the movie has a few flaws but they are easily overlooked, and repeated viewings reveal its true worth. 'The Border' is a real sleeper, and recommended to fans of intelligent, character based drama.

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