43 user 22 critic

Border Incident (1949)

Passed | | Crime, Drama, Film-Noir | 28 October 1949 (USA)
Mexican and American federal agents tackle a vicious gang exploiting illegal farm workers in southern California.


Anthony Mann


John C. Higgins (screenplay), John C. Higgins (story) | 1 more credit »

Watch Now

From $2.99 on Prime Video



Learn more

More Like This 

Action | Crime | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  

A former boxer turned cab driver has to hide from the police when his badgering wife is murdered by the jewel thief she was having an affair with.

Director: Phil Karlson
Stars: John Payne, Evelyn Keyes, Brad Dexter
Side Street (1950)
Certificate: Passed Crime | Drama | Film-Noir
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  

A struggling young father-to-be gives in to temptation and impulsively steals money from the office of a shady lawyer - with catastrophic consequences.

Director: Anthony Mann
Stars: Farley Granger, Cathy O'Donnell, James Craig
Crime | Drama | Film-Noir
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  

G.I. Nick Blake, a never charged con man in his pre-military life, has just received an honorable discharge from the army on medical reasons. Rather than return to his old life, he plans to... See full summary »

Director: Jean Negulesco
Stars: John Garfield, Geraldine Fitzgerald, Walter Brennan
Action | Crime | Film-Noir
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  

A deported gangster's plan to re-enter the USA involves skulduggery at a Mexican resort, and gambler Dan Milner is caught in the middle.

Directors: John Farrow, Richard Fleischer
Stars: Robert Mitchum, Jane Russell, Vincent Price
The Big Steal (1949)
Crime | Film-Noir | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7/10 X  

An army lieutenant accused of robbery pursues the real thief on a frantic chase through Mexico aided by the thief's fiancee.

Director: Don Siegel
Stars: Robert Mitchum, Jane Greer, William Bendix
Crime | Film-Noir | Mystery
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.6/10 X  

The lady editor of a crime magazine hires Philip Marlowe to find the wife of her boss. The private detective soon finds himself involved in murder.

Director: Robert Montgomery
Stars: Robert Montgomery, Audrey Totter, Lloyd Nolan
Crime | Drama | Film-Noir
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  

Frank Johnson flees police after becoming an eyewitness to murder. He is pursued around scenic San Francisco by his wife, a reporter, the police, and... the real murderer.

Director: Norman Foster
Stars: Ann Sheridan, Dennis O'Keefe, Robert Keith
M (1951)
Drama | Film-Noir | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.9/10 X  

In this Americanization of the 1931 German thriller, both the police and the criminal underworld stalk a mysterious killer who preys on small children.

Director: Joseph Losey
Stars: David Wayne, Howard Da Silva, Martin Gabel
Desperate (1947)
Crime | Film-Noir | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.8/10 X  

A young married couple flee both police and a gangster out for revenge.

Director: Anthony Mann
Stars: Steve Brodie, Audrey Long, Raymond Burr
Certificate: Passed Crime | Drama | Film-Noir
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  

A small town policeman is assisted by a Harvard professor when a human skeleton is found on a Massachusetts beach.

Director: John Sturges
Stars: Ricardo Montalban, Sally Forrest, Bruce Bennett
Drama | Film-Noir
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  

Rough city cop Jim Wilson is disciplined by his captain and is sent upstate, to a snowy mountain town, to help the local sheriff solve a murder case.

Directors: Nicholas Ray, Ida Lupino
Stars: Ida Lupino, Robert Ryan, Ward Bond
Certificate: Passed Drama | Film-Noir
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  

The rise and fall of Stanton Carlisle, a mentalist whose lies and deceit prove to be his downfall.

Director: Edmund Goulding
Stars: Tyrone Power, Joan Blondell, Coleen Gray


Complete credited cast:
Ricardo Montalban ... Pablo Rodriguez
George Murphy ... Jack Bearnes
Howard Da Silva ... Owen Parkson
James Mitchell ... Juan Garcia
Arnold Moss ... Zopilote
Alfonso Bedoya ... Cuchillo
Teresa Celli ... Maria
Charles McGraw ... Jeff Amboy
José Torvay ... Pocoloco (as Jose Torvay)
John Ridgely ... Mr. Neley
Arthur Hunnicutt ... Clayton Nordell
Sig Ruman ... Hugo Wolfgang Ulrich
Otto Waldis ... Fritz


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 <puffinus@u.washington.edu>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Filmed where it happens! See more »


Passed | See all certifications »





English | Spanish

Release Date:

28 October 1949 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Border Patrol See more »

Filming Locations:

Calexico, California, USA See more »


Box Office


$749,000 (estimated)

Gross USA:

$580,000, 31 December 1949

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$908,000, 31 December 1949
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Mono (Western Electric Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


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 »


Zopilote: What is cheaper than time, senor? Everybody has the same amount.
See more »


Referenced in Side Street: Where Temptation Lurks (2007) See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.

User Reviews

Socially and artistically important--and stunning incredible filming!!!
17 July 2011 | by secondtakeSee all my reviews

Border Incident (1949)

This is an amazing movie. There are moments when it feels a little forced, or once or twice a little politicized, but the rest of the time this is as good as post-war movies get (and I'm a complete devotee of this period). John Alton's photography is worth seeing alone, even without the sound it's so good, not that you would want to avoid the fantastic score by Andre Previn. And the direction by Anthony Mann at the peak of his intensity is sharp and beautifully controlled.

The story is largely broken into two parts, though even these two get complicated, so you have to pay attention. Action moves from Mexican to the American side back and forth, following an American agent and a Mexican one (played by the handsome Ricardo Montalban), both undercover. They cross paths more than once, but largely their stories are independent. Eventually there is a huge and exciting confrontation in the Valley of Death with a thick and rather convincing quicksand pool at the bottom. It becomes something like a Western shootout at this point, something Mann became an expert at, but the movie as a whole has a unique feel to it, neither Western nor noir. Yes, it involves crime, guns, deception, and lots of night stuff (terrific is an understatement), but the underlying tone is to undo a crime syndicate on the border, and to root for the two heroes who are working for a cause (a very un-noir thing to do).

A terrific full review of the movie is at bighousefilm.com (click on reviews), in particular going into the director and cinematographer, and the overall mood of the film. Certainly this was my initial attraction, for both Mann in all his ominous but realistic violence and Alton with his deep focus shadow photography are favorites of mine. There isn't a dull moment in this film just in visual terms. If you watch with your eyes, and see great moving camera, vivid dark night stuff, and some sudden changes of focus (like when the two men are in the field at night toward the end and are suddenly up close in the camera, no cutting, just a fast running to the lens an following with the lens). It's really masterful.

But equally important for those who are curious about context and content beyond the art of it all is the Wikipedia entry on the Bracero program, a collaboration between the US and Mexican governments begun in the 1940s to control legal migrant workers. The need for lots of Mexican labor was pressing when millions of US men joined the army in 1942, and after the war there was pressure to keep the program going. In a way, this movie is pure propaganda to support its continuation, and it did get renewed time and again until 1964 (which is about when Cesar Chavez and the "La Raza" movement grew huge). Naturally, agribusiness didn't like it--their claim was they wanted to pay Americans full wages, not Mexicans, but in truth (apparently) they wanted to let the illegal market expand because illegals were so cheap and required no benefits. Whatever the case, "Border Incident" helps dramatize the need for some kind of program in post-war America just to counteract the bad guys running illegals over the border, to everyone's peril.

Speaking of which, the bad guy in charge is played to perfection by Howard Da Silva (who is not Hispanic, nor Portuguese, but Jewish American from Ohio). His whole cadre of greedy ranchers in the desert is convincing and a thrill, cinematically. There is only a glimpse of a female in the whole movie, and yet there is tenderness at times, especially among the braceros themselves. In a way there is something of the feel of "They Live by Night" here, with the layering of plots and types of people together in the dark desert, shot in the same year. But ultimately this is a far more masculine movie, filled with action and power plays and terrific energy.

9 of 9 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you? | Report this
Review this title | See all 43 user reviews »

Contribute to This Page

Stream Trending TV Series With Prime Video

Explore popular and recently added TV series available to stream now with Prime Video.

Start your free trial

Recently Viewed