40 user 23 critic

The Border (1982)

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



Watch Now

From $2.99 (SD) on Amazon Video

Learn more

People who liked this also liked... 

Drama | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.3/10 X  

Freddy Gale is a seedy jeweller who has sworn to kill the drunk driver who killed his little girl.

Director: Sean Penn
Stars: Jack Nicholson, David Morse, Anjelica Huston
Goin' South (1978)
Comedy | Crime | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.3/10 X  

Due to the lack of men after the Civil War, a small western town allows a bachelorette with ulterior motives to save a horse thief from the gallows by marrying him. They must deal with his old gang, the Sheriff, the bank, and each other.

Director: Jack Nicholson
Stars: Jack Nicholson, Mary Steenburgen, Christopher Lloyd
The Two Jakes (1990)
Crime | Drama | Mystery
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.1/10 X  

The sequel to Chinatown (1974) finds J.J. "Jake" Gittes investigating adultery and murder, and the money that comes from oil.

Director: Jack Nicholson
Stars: Jack Nicholson, Harvey Keitel, Meg Tilly
Crime | Drama | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.1/10 X  

A man who has failed as a father and husband commits a heist to make money for his fledging business, but things become complicated when his wife interferes.

Director: Bob Rafelson
Stars: Jack Nicholson, Michael Caine, Stephen Dorff
Ironweed (1987)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.8/10 X  

An alcoholic drifter spends Halloween in his home town of Albany, New York after returning there for the first time in decades.

Director: Hector Babenco
Stars: Jack Nicholson, Meryl Streep, Carroll Baker
Drama | Western
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.6/10 X  

Tom Logan is a horse thief. Rancher David Braxton has horses, and a daughter, worth stealing. But Braxton has just hired Lee Clayton, an infamous "regulator", to hunt down the horse thieves; one at a time.

Director: Arthur Penn
Stars: Marlon Brando, Jack Nicholson, Randy Quaid
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.6/10 X  

A daydreamer convinces his radio personality brother to help fund one of his get-rich-quick schemes.

Director: Bob Rafelson
Stars: Jack Nicholson, Bruce Dern, Ellen Burstyn
Comedy | Crime | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.8/10 X  

A professional hitman and hitwoman fall in love.

Director: John Huston
Stars: Jack Nicholson, Kathleen Turner, Robert Loggia
The Fortune (1975)
Comedy | Crime | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.7/10 X  

Two bumbling hustlers in the 1920s attempt to gain the fortune of an heiress. Nothing will stop them, not even murder.

Director: Mike Nichols
Stars: Stockard Channing, Jack Nicholson, Warren Beatty
Hoffa (1992)
Biography | Crime | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.6/10 X  

The story of the notorious American labor union figure Jimmy Hoffa, who organizes a bitter strike, makes deals with members of the organized crime syndicate and mysteriously disappears in 1975.

Director: Danny DeVito
Stars: Jack Nicholson, Danny DeVito, Armand Assante
Crime | Drama | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.6/10 X  

The sensuous wife of a lunch wagon proprietor and a rootless drifter begin a sordidly steamy affair and conspire to murder her Greek husband.

Director: Bob Rafelson
Stars: Jack Nicholson, Jessica Lange, John Colicos
Comedy | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  

Two Navy men are ordered to bring a young offender to prison, but decide to show him one last good time along the way.

Director: Hal Ashby
Stars: Jack Nicholson, Randy Quaid, Otis Young


Cast overview, first billed only:
Manuel Viescas ...
Jeff Morris ...
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 <jumblejim@prodigy.net>

Plot Summary | Plot 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:

Border  »

Filming Locations:



Box Office


$22,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$516,064, 31 January 1982, Limited Release

Gross USA:

$6,118,683, 21 February 1982
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


This movie was released between two of Jack Nicholson's movies, which were Oscar nominated, Reds (1981) and Terms of Endearment (1983). However, this film was not nominated for any Academy Awrads, and was not successful at the box-office. See more »


Charlie Smith: No more, Marcy. No more's no more. No more does not mean more, and more, and more! No more means no more!
See more »


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


Texas Bop
Written and performed by Jim Dickinson
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.

User Reviews

Overlooked Classic; Simple Jack; Great Support
11 September 2003 | by See all my reviews

This film has been making the TV rounds lately, and that inspired us to go rent this overlooked classic and enjoy it once again. It always stands up, it never lets us down, and it is unjustly overlooked. And Ry Cooder's score is a definite plus.

This is an unabashedly simple movie, much to its credit. And that simplicity includes Jack. Almost all of the critics point out that this is Jack at his "UnJackest". Only one true "Jack" moment, and that is when he dumps the grill into that awful, tacky poolette and exclaims, "Soup's on!". And even that moment is appropriate to the situation, hilarious, and much needed comic relief.

'The Border' has every chance to drown in cliche, but to Tony Richardson's credit, it never does. The characters could so easily have become good guy/bad guy caricatures, but to the credit of an amazing supporting cast, they never do.

And OH what a supporting cast! Harvey Keitel is terrific, especially when he is trying to reign in his bimbo, drunken, horndog wife. Cat can handle the meanest border scum, but is a whipped puppy with Ms. Thang. Which leads to the superb performances of both Shannon Wilcox and Valerie Perrine as the Boobsey Twin Airheads from Hell. Check out their rendition of their high school cheerleading chant. Also loved Warren Oates as the crooked Border Patrol Chief, particularly the scene where he explains to the sleazy drop point bad guy (one character dangerously close to cliche) that their truck of "wets" got caught by a couple of honest border guards and "Goddamit, I ain't got no control over that! That's just gonna happen sometimes."

But for me, the supporting performance at the soul of this film is Elpidia Carrillo's heart-wrenching, moving portrayal of Maria. All she is asked to do is symbolize everything pure, noble, and long-suffering, to be the Mexican Madonna. And to do it with about 5 lines of dialogue in the entire film, and that is in Spanish. Oh, and she's about 18 years old and this is her first American film. And guess what? She's simply amazing, conveying more in a single expression than most actresses could in 10 pages of dialogue. Of course it helps to be born with one of the most expressive, open faces in the universe, and boy does she know how to use it. (Carrillo had a similar role, even named Maria, in Oliver Stone's 'Salvador' a couple of years later, and was equally as good. She was also outstanding as Jimmy Smits' wife in 'My Family'. She finally got her just acclaim a couple of years ago in Ken Louche's 'Bread and Roses', winning an ALMA and even having the critics talking Oscar, and for the lead in the Mexican historical epic 'The Other Conquest').

The scene that will always stick in my mind has Charley going to the sad hovel occupied by Maria and her brother to give them the money to pay a coyote to bring them across. Maria is confused, wondering why he would help them. Then she thinks she knows, and with a whole world of sad resignation on her young shoulders, without a word, begins to undress. The Jack/Charley that responds, telling her gently that she owes him nothing, that he just wants to to feel good about something, sometime, is so simple, so sweet, and so heart-felt that it may be one of Jack's finest, most authentic screen moments. Never mind that she doesn't understand a word; they connect. A simple but deeply moving scene; it connects.

Go rent this simple straightforward film with its fine acting and directing. In its simple way, it is a powerful, unforgettable classic.

37 of 42 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you? | Report this
Review this title | See all 40 user reviews »

Contribute to This Page

Kevin Smith's Top 3 Sundance Movies in 90 Seconds

Kevin Smith reveals his favorite Sundance movies of all time. Plus, La La Land producer Jordan Horowitz shares some "secret" information about his new spy-thriller series, "Counterpart."

Watch now