A New York City detective, traveling by train between New York and Baltimore, tries to foil an on-board plot to assassinate President-elect Abraham Lincoln before he reaches Baltimore to give a major pre-Inauguration speech in 1861.
To penetrate a gang exploiting illegal Mexican farmworkers smuggled into California (and leaving no live witnesses), Mexican federal agent Pablo Rodriguez poses as an ignorant bracero, while his American counterpart Jack Bearnes works from outside. Soon, both are in deadly danger from the ringleader, sinister rancher Owen Parkson, and find night on the farm to be full of shadowy film-noir menace...Written by
Rod Crawford <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Near movie's end, Pablo Rodriguez (Montalban) is almost fully submerged in quicksand. However, immediately upon being pulled out, he looks like he's had a shower; the quicksand that had been on his face and hair is completely gone. See more »
At the outset here, I have to ask, Who cares if this is a film noir or not? If not, does it detract from it? If it is, does that enhance it as a work of art? Of course it doesn't, the debate is arbitrary and nonsensical. It makes no difference. Film noir was not a concept until the 1960's anyway, so the discussion is not only irrelevant, it is decidedly un-academic.
First and foremost, 'Border Incident' is a miraculously involving, dynamic piece of cinema. The voice-overs in the beginning and the one at the end have dated really badly with their flag-waving patriotism and faux-documentary style, but the 75 minutes in the middle are riveting.
Ricardo Montalban and George Murphy are detectives, respectively Mexican and American, with a mission to protect the Mexican braceros, farm workers, who are smuggled over the border and robbed, murdered and dropped in the quicksand, when they come back with money in their pockets. They infiltrate themselves into the the band of cutthroats to stop the trafficking.
The theme is contemporary to us, to say the least. And the way the story is told is relentless, stylish and urgent. It is brilliantly shot, wonderfully lit and edited like no-one's business. And it is tough as nails, there is a gruesome scene involving some farm machinery ... I will not go into details, but you might want to put your kids to bed in time.
A truly great movie, pure cinema. And call it what you want, for all I care. Noir, western-noir, whatever.
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