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9/10
Anthony Mann-John Alton Duo Do It Again!
ccthemovieman-128 November 2006
Here is some spectacular film noir photography by the same team (Director Anthony Mann and cinematographer John Alton) that brought you He Walked By Night, Ray Deal and T-Man. The photography is as good as anything in those movies, if not better. This is good stuff; great direction, with interesting closeups, wide-angle lenses, low-angle shots, tons of shadows and light. Instead of a big city, we had the desert as the main area. The DVD transfer is terrific, too.

All of this, to me, was more fun to watch than the actual story, although the second half of this movie is extremely tense and well done. It makes up for the first half which is a bit on the sordid side at times and a bit slow at times, but definitely film noir material meaning a feeling of dread just around each corner. The suspense gets really thick in the last 20 minutes when George Murphy is discovered by th sadistic criminals to be an undercover lawman. What happens to Murphy is memorable.

Howard da Silva and Charles MacGraw are effective as the main villains. MacGraw's distinctive voice alone makes him a film noir Hall of Famer. Murphy - known more for his light-hearted hoofer films - does a credible in here and it was interesting to see Ricardo Montalban (of TV's "Love Boat" fame) as such a young man. Those two play the good guys.

This is a tough, all-male cast with no romances or soft stuff. In a way, the atmosphere reminded me a bit of another tough noir, "The Big Combo," although the subject matter here is entirely different than any other noir I know about: immigrants crossing the border. However, unlike the real-life situation that is a major story today, this involves Mexicans crossing the border to do migrant farm work, and then getting robbed and killed by bandits on the way home. Still, the subject of "illegals" is a big part of this story and ironic to watch today in light of what's happening now.

Anyway, if you enjoy literally-dark stories, and am a fan of film noir, check this movie out.
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9/10
Terrific, Taut, & Terrifying Movie about Farming
manfromlaramie-123 September 2005
An underrated gem from the cannon of Anthony Mann. Two agents - one American, one Mexican - cooperate on an investigation into illegal immigrant farm labour. The bad guys are the people smugglers, and boy are they bad - evil, ruthless and sadistic. Contains scenes of extreme violence which Hollywood tolerated in certain westerns and noirs of the late 40's post-war era, and this is kind of a western noir crime movie with lots of vegetables. Its a movie that could give you nightmares, especially if you approach it unaware due to its age, that its actually quite disturbingly brutal and relentless.

Easily ranks as Ricardo Montoblan's finest performance, and only makes one baffled as to how he became such a shameless ham later in life with the likes of Fantasy Island. George Murphy, who plays the American agent, had a fascinating career. Dropping out of Yale to become a coal stoker, he switched to a tap dancing hoofer in 30's pictures, then a solid supporting actor in war pictures. Following the lead of his pal Ronnie Reagan he entered Republican politics, rising to become a member of the US Senate for California.

John Alton lensed this picture, and his monochrome work is a remarkably beautiful achievement. Only a year after this movie Alton would photograph An American In Paris - easily one the best Technicolor movies ever shot.
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8/10
Fifty-six And 1/2 Years On The Road To Nowhere
Richard Green8 June 2006
One of the few benefits of working late hours is the chance to see hard-to-find movies on Turner Classic Movies ( TCM ) and on a few other cable television channels ( ENCORE ). One of the reasons to see 'film noir' productions on TCM is that they seldom circulate in any other forums, and also, the way these films were made works OK on a regular television screen and system.

"Border Incident" is one of those TCM presentations I've seen more than once now, and I am most favorably impressed with it. My initial vote was for a seven but after re-thinking it, I sent in a re-vote of eight.

The camera work, cinematography, was A + in my opinion. It has the best characteristics of what we would now call "docu-drama." Some of these older movies have great acting and corny plots, and in some "film noir" stories you get great story-telling and B + acting. I guess that's why they were called "B" movies.

Actually, that's not true, as I believe the "B" assignment meant that the movie was sent out as the second part of a double feature package.

Fifty-six years after the facts which make up this docu-drama were deemed to be important, the only change in them facts is for the worse.

Greed and opportunism still dominate the "politics of temporary labor" or more accurately, the "politics of cheap labor." There's something gnarly about this movie, and it isn't just about the obvious elements of the plot, being avarice, sadism and murder ....

As a young lad growing up in Texas, I learned first hand how difficult life was and could be for migrant farm workers. Mexican and native-born.

The people-smuggling business has been much in the news lately and it has been the basic theme of several really well-done movies, and I can recommend "The Transporter" as being one, and "The Empire Of The Wolves" with Jean Reno as being another to see on DVD.

There's a lot of real humanity in "Border Incident," and yet it all plays out in a stark and tragic way ....

It's definitely not a modernistic or post-modern cinematic mess.

It's a quality film drama on a very important subject.
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Absolutely First Class
jimmccool2 September 2004
Warning: Spoilers
* contains spoilers *

A first class little thriller, which contains scenes of violence [torture by electric shock] and death [by farm tractor and harrow!] which were surely very explicit for its period, and remain quite shocking today. Also shocking is the idea that Ricardo Montalban's character is unable to prevent the death of his fellow-agent. Expectations are upset - can a hero really be allowed to die [at least one user, below, has been upset by the film's refusal to follow the set formula] ?

And yes, it IS noir [although that is surely a subjective term], for the photography, the bleakness, the cynicism...

Deserves a place in the collection of anyone interested in late 40s US film. Excellent.
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8/10
Film Noire Sans Femme Fatale
bsmith555222 August 2006
Director Anthony Mann is probably best remembered for the series of gritty westerns he made with James Stewart in the 1950s. However prior to this he directed some memorable film noire classics of which "Border Incident" is one of the best. Devoid of the usual film noire "femme fatale", it is nonetheless a dark and unusually (for the time) violent film.

The plot concerns the efforts of the Mexican and American Immigration Services to stem the flow of illegal farm workers crossing the border into the US illegally. To this end the Mexicans assign Pablo Rodrgues (Ricardo Montalban) and the Americans, Jack Bearnes (George Murphy) to work under cover to find the sources of both the illegal traffic and the grizzly murders of workers crossing back into Mexico with their earnings.

They discover that the head of the operation is Owen Parkson (Howard DaSilva). His cohorts include Arnold Moss and Alfonso Bedoya as a couple of ruthless murders, Charles McGraw and Arthur Hunnicutt as his foreman and assistant and Sig Ruman as his Mexican "recruiter".

The film is both dark (most of the film takes place at night) and violent. At the beginning we see the brutal stabbings of several helpless workers returning home by Moss, Bedoya and company and the unceremonious dumping of the bodies into a pool of quicksand. Later, one of the characters meets a particularly gruesome end under a large farm cultivator.

Montalbon and Murphy in particular, turn in excellent performances. Both live on life's edges in their efforts to bring the criminals to justice. Sig Ruman is very good as the brutal Mexican contact. McGraw walks away with the villain's honors as the devious foreman. In fact the whole cast is excellent.

As this film was produced by MGM, Mann was given a larger budget than usual. The scenes are well constructed and lit to give one that classic black and white feeling of impending doom. It will keep you glued to the screen from start to finish.
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9/10
Gritty drama about illegal aliens remains as topical as it is stylish
bmacv5 November 2001
Warning: Spoilers
In their Eagle-Lion days, director Anthony Mann and cinematographer John Alton were the undisputed A-team of B-movies (T-Men, Raw Deal). When their lavish talents got them an offer to work for MGM, they stayed with the tried-and-true in Border Incident, which in its narrative and some of its magical photography echoes T-Men. It's a story about the ruthlessness of the migrant-worker trade between Mexico and California's great agricultural valleys, and it remains as topical today as it was in 1949 (if not more so). Teaming up to close down the human pipeline are Mexican agent Ricardo Montalban and American George Murphy, who perilously go undercover. The trail leads them to a brutal rancher (Howard DaSilva) with a cadre of murderous henchmen, who brokers the deals. As in T-Men, one of the agents is killed, by means of a terrifying piece of farm machinery, as his partner watches in silence lest he give himself away. When the braceros (as the laborers are called) grow inconvenient, they are "disappeared" into a quicksand mire known as the Canyon of Death; the terminally gruff Charles McGraw emits a girlish shriek as he topples in. Border Incident is hard-edged and unsentimental, and probably a fairly accurate, if lurid, indictment of the traffic in south-of-the-border human labor, circa midcentury. One can only hope that conditions have improved since them; movies, plainly, have not.
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8/10
Pure cinema
Michael Bo17 July 2006
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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8/10
The Police and Snakes Are First Cousins.
Spikeopath3 May 2015
Border Incident is directed by Anthony Mann and adapted to screenplay by John C. Higgins from the George Zuckerman story. It stars Ricardo Montalban, George Murphy, Howard Da Silva, Charles McGraw, Arthur Hunnicutt and James Mitchell. Music is by Andre Previn and cinematography by John Alton.

The great Anthony Mann creates what is the perfect crossover movie that blends film noir style with western shadings. Mann would next go on to make the well regarded psychological westerns with James Stewart, Border Incident is the tasty meat in his noir/western sandwich.

In essence it's a remake of T-Men, only Mann and his team have shifted away from a hustle and bustle city setting to tell a story down on the sweaty American/Mexico border. We are probing into immigration issues, human smuggling and the abuse of such, Mann and his writers daring to portray the human suffering of farm workers from Mexico, lured in as slave labour, only to then be abused and used and much worse...

Having the legendary Alton on photography duties aids the downbeat thematics considerably, whilst also deftly averting attention from what is a pretty bog standard script, the low budgets never a problem where Mann and Alton were concerned. In fact, in noirville they worked it to their advantage with some striking lighting techniques and camera movements.

The pic is often vicious, sadistic even, landing violent scenes in the conscious that refuse to move until it's all over and the screen goes blank. Suspense is never far away in Border Incident, with a mostly on form cast (George Murphy is uneven as McGraw does nasty brilliantly) bringing the material to life as the dream team cloak it all in pictorial assertiveness. Not in the same league as Raw Deal, but highly recommended for reasons already stated. 8/10
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8/10
Border Incident was one of the late Ricardo Montalban's more compelling movies
tavm26 February 2009
With the death of Ricardo Montalban still fresh from a few weeks ago, I thought I'd check from my local library a DVD of one of his more dramatically compelling movies he made for his contracted studio, M-G-M. Directed by Anthony Mann just before his legendary streak of James Stewart westerns in the following decade, Border Incident has a sort of western feel as it tells the story of a couple of agents, one U.S. and one Mexican, trying to protect Mexican immigrants from being exploited and beaten to death in this country. Both Montalban and George Murphy-who's usually a song-and-dance man-are very compelling in their straight roles. As the villains, Howard Da Silva and Charles McGraw also bring their subtle creepiness to somewhat charismatic effect (well, Da Silva anyway). And James Mitchell brings his own charm as one of the migrant workers Montalban tries to help. There's also a naturalistic documentary feel in the beginning and end that make this somewhat realistic for the era which is also achieved by rare uses of the music score throughout. If you've only known Mr. Montalban as Mr. Roarke on "Fantasy Island" or as Khan on the "Star Trek" episode "Space Seed" not to mention Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, you'll probably be wonderfully surprised by his heroic role here. With that, I highly recommend Border Incident.
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6/10
Situation in 1949 and also in 2006 !
whpratt19 June 2006
It is hard to believe that this film deals with Mexican crop workers trying to find work and happiness in America and is the same situation that has escalated into a huge problem in the year 2006. Ricardo Montalban,(Pablo Rodriquez), "Dynasty,'89 TV Series, plays an undercover Immagration Officer who tires to find out who is taking advantage of Mexican people by taking their money for entrance into the U.S. and making them disappear because of not having the proper paper work. George Murphy, (Jack Bearnes), "Battleground",'49 works as an agent along with Pablo and gives an outstanding supporting role. By the way, George Murphy became a U.S.Senator from California in real life. Howard DaSilva, (Owen Parkson),"The Great Gatsby",'74 plays an evil dude who is into all kinds of crooked deals. Great 1949 film about problems we are facing today in the United States.
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7/10
Laborers Smuggling
Claudio Carvalho21 October 2016
When several illegal Mexican workers are murdered at the border of Mexico and United States by a gang of Coyotes, the Mexican and American federal agents Pablo Rodriguez (Ricardo Montalban) and Jack Bearnes (George Murphy) are assigned to work infiltrated in the group of Mexican farm workers that are waiting for a chance to work in southern California. Pablo poses of bracero while Jack poses of a dealer of permits to work in the United State to discover the leaders that exploit the laborers. They stumble upon the rancher Owen Parkson (Howard Da Silva) and they find he is the ringleader. But soon they are in danger and do not have means to communicate with their contacts. What will happen to Jack and Pablo?

"Border Incident" is a 1949 film about farm workers smuggling through the United States-Mexico border in a period of The Bracero Program. This illegal crossing of the border followed by the exploitation of the laborers make the fortune of the rancher Parkson in the story. The scene with Jack Bearnes on the field is impressive even in the present days. My vote is seven.

Title (Brazil): "Mercado Humano" ("Human Market")
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Socially and artistically important--and stunning incredible filming!!!
secondtake17 July 2011
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.
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8/10
Sit Back, Relax, and call Taco Bell
howdymax14 September 2002
This depiction of illegal border activity really illustrates the difference between what we thought was a serious problem in 1949 and what we know now is a much more serious problem. There is no mention of drugs or terrorism. The focus of this movie is the illegal practice of bringing in undocumented peasants from Mexico to work the farms and ranches of the Southwest. It tries very hard to show the brutality, greed, and complete absence of any human compassion on the part of the bad guys,seen in perspective today, it seems almost benign. We know now the bottomless depths these vermin will sink to in order to make a buck. We know that life today is worth less than it was then. Still, I think this is a worthwhile picture.

While watching this movie I was reminded again what a likable character George Murphy was. He plays the INS agent investigating this smuggling ring along with his Mexican counterpart played by Ricardo Montalban. They work well together - both in character and personally. They are surrounded by a despicable group of psychos that include Charles McGraw, Howard Da Silva, Arthur Hunnicut, and Alfonso Bedoya (Gold Hat from "Treasure of the Sierra Madre"). A good cast and a tense, suspense filled plot make this an enjoyable experience. My one major criticism is this mutual ass kissing we see between the "efficient" US and "incorruptable" Mexican federal cops. I may be wrong but I can't believe we ever have, or ever will enjoy that kind of cooperation.
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8/10
watch this and then watch Fast Food Nation- talk about things not changing-
DJJOEINC12 June 2007
Warning: Spoilers
Border Incident-Superb 1949 crime procedural directed by Anthony Mann.Starring Ricardo Montalban as a Mexican immigration official that poses as an illegal immigrant to try and stop the smuggling of human beings.This is the third movie I have seen dealing with this topic - and the best depiction.Mann's cinematographer John Alton does an excellent job filming this shadow world- using extreme closeups,light and shadow and sound design to craft a tense thriller on the fringes of America.Worth seeking out - great performances by the bad guys-Howard Silva as the overconfident boss and Charles McGraw as the annoyed second in charge.Sure it has some dated references and stereotypes-but it is still a relevant and engrossing movie.The DVD has commentary by Dana Polan. A-
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8/10
Border Incident's Not for Children
JLRMovieReviews24 March 2011
Warning: Spoilers
Ricardo Montalban, George Murphy, James Mitchell, and Charles McGraw star in this story about Mexicans who cross the border to California legally (and some illegally) to work and support their family back in Mexico. But, going back to Mexico, they are killed for their meager pay. In doing this, these certain "businessmen" can then get more Mexicans to come and work for them. It's all a racket, where these "businessman" make all the profits, until federal agents of America and Mexico are planted on the inside, who are George Murphy and Ricardo Montalban. George Murphy was mainly a song-and-dance guy in musical comedies of the 1930s and 1940s, but branched out to do other genres with this film, and I may never see him the same way again. Not so much because he was in it, but because of what happens. James Mitchell, who found fame later as "All My Children"'s Palmer Cortlandt, is on hand as a Mexican trying to find work to support his family. The film wraps up with unrelenting and uncompromising violence that does not talk down to its mature viewers. Little children, I should think, should not see this. For good actors in a solid picture directed by Anthony Mann, it's a Border Incident on the bill.
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8/10
uncompromising look at illegal immigration
blanche-29 July 2010
"Border Incident" is another film that benefits from the direction of Anthony Mann. From 1949, it's an atmospheric noir, probably a B movie, about the immigration department sending two people in undercover (Ricardo Montalban and George Murphy) to expose an illegal immigration operation. The ranchers bring them in, and after the season, they're left to their own devices. En route home, they are often robbed and/or killed and left in the Death Cave, which has quicksand. Very gruesome.

Montalban plays Pablo Rodriguez, who poses as a brazero (farm worker) who pays 70 pesos to cross the border illegally. He befriends Juan Garcia (James Mitchell), a real brazero he meets while waiting for his named to be called for a work permit. Discouraged, Garcia decides to go illegally as well, despite having a wife and children and knowing the dangers. Murphy goes undercover as an ex-con who has work permits to sell. Pablo and Juan end up on the Parkson ranch. Parkson (Howard da Silva) is a ruthless man, and he couldn't care less about the immigrants.

This is a violent film that demonstrates the exploitation of Mexicans and illustrates the problems that still exist today. All of the performances are very good - soap opera audiences may not recognize dancer/actor James Mitchell, who played Palmer Courtlandt on "All My Children" for years and died not long ago. Young and very handsome, Ricardo Montalban makes a convincing Pablo, a brave and determined man. Murphy stretches his song and dance man range as Jack.

Excellent film.
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The Dark Saga of Peas and Carrots
dougdoepke15 July 2007
More than any of Mann's movies, this is a nightmare vision, which says a lot considering his 1940's tour of subterranean America. Of course, there are the mandatory sops to convention-- the usual triumphant authorities in the usual high-key lighting with the usual handshakes all around. But don't let that fool you, because the other 95% stretches into a nightmarish landscape of grotesquery and violence that lends about as much support to convention as Jack the Ripper does to the National Organization for Women. In fact, the rotary plow scene may be the most unrelenting and excruciatingly violent episode of the entire decade. On the surface, the movie's about migrant farm workers. But that's really just a chance for Mann to bring forth his highly personal view of a violence-strewn world. In fact, his noirs amount to an ongoing struggle between artistic vision, on one hand, and societal convention, on the other. Though good is predictably rewarded and evil punished, he again writhes expressively against the artificial limits that stand in his way. (Note how the movie sets the stage-- beginning not with a snippet of normal life, but with a horrendous crime.)

The supporting cast alone is a pantheon of noir icons, including Charles McGraw, Jack Lambert, Howard deSilva, and the under-rated Arnold Moss whose rolling eyes and demonic leer can make you doubt the course of evolution. And where did they get the palm-checking weight-lifter of a hag whose dubious version of the weaker sex belongs somewhere in the defensive line of the Chicago Bears. Some nice little surprises along the way-- a messenger who wisely goes by motorcycle, and a "good-samaritan" housewife with unexpected connections. Too bad that Hollywood could never figure out how real foreign peasants speak. Here they come up with the usual pseudo-poetic tropes like, "I was praying, my husband, to the same sainted Guadalupe that you would not go". Then too, I'm curious about an achingly dry desert with a swamp in the middle. Oh well, it's probably better that screenwriters don't have to take courses in geology since these subliminal swamp scenes with flashing knives and disappearing bodies would likely frighten Dr. Freud.

Anyway, there's enough tension and suspense in these 90 minutes to send a viewer reaching for the heart medicine, and maybe even ponder the provenance of those peas and carrots on the nightly dinner plate. Too bad, Mann's assigned shift to Westerns began soon after this. It helped spell noir's inevitable decline in the face of a mounting Cold War and anything smacking of social criticism. That move may have amounted to Jimmy Stewart's big gain, but it ended in noir's big loss.
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7/10
Still Timely Drama.
AaronCapenBanner12 November 2013
Anthony Mann directed this still-timely drama that stars Ricardo Montalban as Mexican agent Pablo Rodriguez, who teams up with American agent Jack Bearnes(played by George Murphy) to tackle the problem of illegal Mexican Immigrant smuggling into California, which has seen many of them mysteriously murdered. Rancher Owen Parkson(played by Howard Da Silva) is chief suspect as the ringleader. Pablo goes undercover from the inside as an immigrant, while Jack investigates from the outside. The case will prove quite dangerous, more than either man realized... Fine drama with solid acting and direction, and an incisive script that wouldn't need much changing to work today, sadly.
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10/10
Execellent treatment of a serious problem.
PWNYCNY10 June 2013
Those believing that the illegal immigration into the United States is a new issue only need to watch this movie to refute that belief. This movie dramatizes the problem of illegal immigration into the United States from Mexico. This movie candidly those economic and social factors which contribute to the problem and why some choose to circumvent the law in order to sneak into the United States. Those who do sneak in of course do so at great risk, yet for some the risks are worth it because of the desperate need to make money. Dealing with this problem is especially challenging and risky for law enforcement, as this movie shows. The story is presented in semi-documentary form which gives it a feeling of authenticity which further adds to the movie's dramatic power. Watch this movie.
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7/10
An Organized People Smuggling Ring
bkoganbing19 October 2011
Illegal immigration is an issue this country is still trying to get a handle on. We say we don't like it, but we sure like the idea of illegals coming to work here for poverty wages. But now as in 1949 there will be people looking to exploit the situation in Mexico and in America and films like Border Incident will strike way too close to our patriotic hearts.

Border Incident tells the story of an American Immigration Officer and a Mexican Federale. Both George Murphy and Ricardo Montalban go undercover to smoke out an organized people smuggling ring, Murphy as a convict with illegal stolen immigration work forms and Montalban as a migrant worker.

Working in border towns on both sides of the Mexican-California border, Murphy and Montalban work in a non-stop atmosphere of intrigue and deceit. They are working separately, but know each other is on the case and the problem is there really is no one either can trust. Anthony Mann does a beautiful job in creating the tension involved in such an operation as director.

Noir films were not usually what MGM put out, but in the case of Border Incident, they put out a real good one.
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7/10
Ricardo Montalban Crosses the Border for Anthony Mann
wes-connors2 July 2010
The preachy-sounding lesson in illegal immigration that opens "Border Incident" makes it seem like this is going to be a boring classroom documentary. And, the opening call to action for Mexican Ricardo Montalban (as Pablo Rodriguez) and American George Murphy (as Jack Bearnes) is unexciting. In fact, the two really don't work together like you're expecting. Instead, Montalban hooks up with handsome James Mitchell (as Juan Garcia) while Mr. Murphy is taken captive by dastardly Howard Da Silva (as Owen Parkson). Watching these two intriguing relationships develop builds to a shocking mid-point murder. And, the ending will make your patience with this picture worthwhile. The direction and photography, by Anthony Mann and John Alton, are outstanding.

******* Border Incident (10/28/49) Anthony Mann ~ Ricardo Montalban, James Mitchell, George Murphy, Howard Da Silva
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8/10
Superior cast in old story that is heartbreakingly current
Michael Morrison9 May 2009
Actors of this quality deserve a first-rate film -- and they got it in "Border Incident." Howard Da Silva could do just about anything. His Benjamin Franklin in "1776" was outstanding, and his bad guy in this movie was so different that a viewer can only marvel and be a fan.

George Murphy was another incredibly versatile actor, able to play light comedy, to sing and dance, and to play a doomed federal agent in "Border Incident." His scene in the field, as he lies wounded and trying to crawl away from the farm machine, is scary and touching.

Ricardo Montalban was another more-than-capable actor, a handsome man, a prolific performer in many fields and roles.

Some of the excellent character actors here include Arthur Hunnicutt, Charles McGraw, Sig Ruman, and the always fascinating Alfonso "We don't need no stinkin' badges" Bedoya.

As so many other people have already mentioned, the problem with which "Border Incident" deals is still a problem.

Poverty drives desperate people across a border desperately seeking work, desperately trying to feed their families.

Naturally there are perils, from the death-dealing desert to heartless government agents to even more heartless thugs willing to exploit and even rob them.

"Border Incident" comes across almost as a documentary, and its realism just adds to the drama. This is definitely one to watch.
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7/10
Enjoyable to watch but the script has a lot of holes
MartinHafer2 August 2007
Provided you can ignore the plot holes here and there in the film, then this is an enjoyable and exciting film. While I noticed that now this film is being marketed in a Film Noir multi-pack by MGM, I really don't think I'd consider this film Noir. It does have many aspects of this, but a story about illegal Mexican migrant workers and the scum who traffic in them is hardly the stuff of Noir, though there is some gritty action and violence that is definitely influenced by this style film.

The movie stars George Murphy and Ricardo Montalban. While Murphy never became a huge star, he was pretty good in this movie. However, for Montalban who only occasionally got a chance to act in films that were non-musicals, it was a very welcome role.

The film itself is a fairly entertaining and straight forward tale about some scum who smuggle illegal immigrants into America and then use them as slave labor or even kill them when it's no longer convenient to keep them! Because of their brutality, a joint Mexican and American task force is created to infiltrate. Despite the complexity and evil of this gang, two agents (Murphy and Montalban) are sent in with no real backup! And, once Montalban begins his journey into the US an a supposed illegal, Murphy's tailing techniques are incredibly shabby and so he's naturally caught but manages to escape.

The rest of the film concerns Montalban as well as a later infiltration by Murphy when he poses as a man who has stolen a large supply of legal identity cards that he attempts to sell to the scum running the gang from the American side of the border. Some of the film is excellent, as Charles McGraw and Howard Da Silva make great heavies (particularly McGraw) and what occurs with Murphy once he's in the gang was quite a surprise. Also, like Noir the film is unflinching and brutal. But unfortunately, several times throughout the film the heroes and their forces didn't seem all that bright and at times the only thing that saved them was the sloppiness of the criminals! Additionally, the narration (particularly at the end) is very heavy-handed and hokey. This isn't a great film but it is exciting and worth a look.

PS---While George Murphy wasn't the greatest actor that ever lived and this film doesn't change my opinion of this. However, try reading him IMDb biography--it really is fascinating and has many parallels to Ronald Reagan's.
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5/10
Interesting but dated crime drama.
Robert J. Maxwell6 June 2006
Warning: Spoilers
What a dark movie! Everything seems to happen at night. Ricardo Montalban is a member of "the Mexican FBI" and George Murphy his counterpart at the INS. They form a partnership to investigate the illegal smuggling of braceros (Mexicans with temporary worker programs) across the border where they are exploited by unscrupulous American interests, then robbed by bandits when they return to Mexico.

Talk about your contemporary problems! It's a decent mystery. The acting is up to snuff. The direction and the photography are professionally competent.

And that's about it. Ricardo Montalban gives a good performance and the rest are middling. I prefer Sig Rumann in comic roles, maybe alongside the Marx Brothers, whereas he's a serious heavy in this one. There is always Alfonso Bedoya, along with one of his henchmen from "The Treasure of the Sierra Madre," but he doesn't have much to do except mangle the English language and his character provides no deliberate relief from the intensity of the story.

There's something -- unconvincing? Is that the word? Not a moment goes by when you forget you're watching a movie. No matter how hard I tried I was unable to suspend my disbelief. Ricardo Montalban may be too handsome to be a bracero. His haircut is not that of a poor laborer but a Hollywood star. In fact all of the braceros seem too well groomed. Their clothes don't seem lived in, although they are all provided with bundles wrapped in serapes, and they all wear straw sombreros. They're burdened with lines like, "Tell me, my husband, is it dangerous?" And it's impossible to sense any feelings of social responsibility behind or in front of the camera. Watch "Viva Zapata" with its screenplay by John Steinbeck for an illustration of what's lacking here. And watch "Traffic" for a treatment of the systemic problem that does not devolve into a Manichaean struggle of the good guys versus the bad guys. There are ethical problems on both sides of the border, although the ones on the Mexican side seem to dwarf those on the other, as that perceptive reviewer Howdymax has observed. Also -- what is the Imperial Valley except a flat desert irrigated by water absconded from the Colorado River? I mean, there are groves of date palms in Indio. But there is no sense of the desert in this movie. Most seems to have been shot in the studio or on the back lot. The "place" is missing.

There is one unforgettable scene though, in which George Murphy is sliced and diced by an agonizingly slow-moving diesel-pulled harrow. (I think that's what it is. There wasn't much farm machinery in Newark.) Murphy, by a curious coincidence, was elected to the Senate from California back in the 60s. There was a small furor at the time over the ethics of the bracero program. They were getting pretty shabby treatment and some wanted to end the program. Murphy's position on the issue was firm. He approved thoroughly of the bracero program. Braceros, he argued, were better at picking lettuce and carrots and melons because "they were built closer to the ground." I swear I'm not making that up.

Well, the movie may be obsolete but the questions aren't. It makes for interesting viewing.
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