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.