A U.S. Border Patrol agent in Texas is involved in an international drug smuggling operation, but decides to clean up his act to help a woman whose child has been sold across the border. — Genre: Feature Film-Action/Adventu... more »re
LGwriter | Astoria, N.Y. United States | 08/23/2003
(4 out of 5 stars)
"At one point in his career, not that long ago, Jack Nicholson mentioned that of all the films he'd done, he thought The Border was his best. And he just may be right about that. His performance as a good, simple man who's caught up in the pressures of corruption and material life is perfect. Tony Richardson, director of such diverse films as Blue Sky and Tom Jones, knows how to keep the focus on his characters rather than on the superficial bulls**t that so often marks films these days. The supporting cast includes Harvey Keital, Warren Oates, and Valerie Perrine, and they, along with the remaining cast, are just as great as Nicholson is.Keitel plays Cat, a fellow border patrol officer and Charlie's (Nicholson's) neighbor and so-called friend. Cat, the C.O. (Oates), a crude lowlife Texan, and a sleazy Mexican are all in on a corrupt scheme to sell wetbacks (Mexican laborers in the U.S.) for profit. When murder becomes part of the mix, Charlie--who had finally agreed to cash in--backs out and the others turn on him. He helps a young Mexican woman whose baby has been snatched and meanwhile tries to put up with his greedy wife (Perrine) who loves material objects more than life itself.For some very strange reason, this film has sunk so far into the depths of obscurity that no one seems interested in releasing this on DVD. This is a great dramatic work and showcases not only Nicholson himself, but a story that means something, a director who knows how to do what has to be done, and a film whose emphasis is where it should be--on story and characters, not on shallow emotions that can be resolved with the snap of a special effects finger.Very highly recommended."
What's this? A restrained Nicholson performance?
linus | the land of wind and ghosts | 07/28/2000
(4 out of 5 stars)
"If you'd like to see Jack Nicholson give a simple, compelling performance with absolutely none of his usual crowd-pleasing hambone antics, look no further than this seldom-seen drama. Nicholson is a United States border patrolman so exhausted and demoralized that he needs to do just one good deed to make life bearable: locate and bring back the baby of a young Mexican woman. He butts heads with his ditsy wife and corrupt co-worker and gets furious with both of them, but Nicholson's anger is that much more effective because he doesn't overplay it. The movie is small, with no extravagant themes and almost no action, but it holds your attention. On some level it may be a Peckinpah rip, but it's a good Peckinpah rip. Nicholson can always break out the stuff everyone loves and get an Oscar (as he did for his vastly overrated performance in "As Good As It Gets"), but smaller movies like this allow him to exercise muscles he doesn't often get to use any more, reminding us that he can be an actor and not just Jack the Wild and Crazy Guy."
Tony and Jack
F. Benjamin Martin | Baden, PA United States | 05/11/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"When i saw this film on it's first release back in 1982, i walked out of the theatre moved to tears. As i've grown older, i realize how much i've grown into the politics of this film. We're all corruptable, we're all tempted, but we all make choices and decide which line we will not cross. Further, as in Traffic, there are wars we cannot win. So choose small battles and win those. Do something you can feel good about. This is atypical Jack Nicholson (he even hides his famous arched eyebroes under mirror shades for much of the film)and i was thrilled to read elsewhere that he considers this perhaps his best film. (I've thought of trying to tell him this somehow just as i've wanted to tell Duton Hoffman about his Straw Dogs performance). He's amazing in a performace that matches the pain and sublte beauty of the film. He has so many quotable lines ("I sure miss feeding those ducks." "I married a #*&% bananna.")) Tony Richardson, the man who brought us Tom Jones, couldnt be more out of his element yet there's no one else who could have pulled the emotion from this riveting story. Buy, rent, steal today. Great freeze at the end with Ry Cooder playing over."
Excellent drama set in West Texas, EL PASO!
Dennis Littrell | 08/21/1999
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I've been a fan of Jack Nicholson for years, and this is among his best films. Harvey Keitel and Valerie Perrine also turn in fine performances too. The storyline takes place in El Paso, Texas and Juarez, Mexico, in which there is the border between the two places (the Rio Grande river, more specifically). It deals a lot with the illegal immigration problem, and other issues that occured at that time. Another reason that I love this film so much, is that literally, I was living in El Paso when it was made in 1981. El Paso is my hometown and the scenes filmed at the duplex were literally less than a block from my home. I as well as my parents watched quite a bit of the scenes there being filmed. (The scene where Jack hurls the barbeque into the pool seems to stick in my mind the most!) Anyway, it's very nice to watch this film and see my hometown as I remember it, particularily since I was there when it was made! But if you are a fan of Jack Nicholson, Harvey Keitel, or Valerie Perrine, and/or like good, well made dramas, then I highly recommend this movie!"
Underrated and overlooked, but definitely worthwhile
Dennis Littrell | SoCal | 09/11/2003
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Although this is not a great film it is a lot better than its reputation. Jack Nicholson is excellent and Harvey Keitel is very good. The beautiful and beguiling Mexican actress, Elpidia Carrillo, handles a limited role with enough artistry to make me wonder why I never heard of her before. Turns out she does have a healthy list of credits both internationally and in the US.The direction by Tony Richardson, who had his heyday in the sixties with films as varied as The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner (1962), Tom Jones (1963), and The Loved One (1965), all adapted from novels, is at times inspired and artistic, and at other times as ordinary as dishwater. I don't think he was able to make up his mind while directing this film about whether he wanted win an award at Cannes or Venice or to just sell some tickets. As it turns out he did neither as well as he might have. Nonetheless as a snapshot of poor Mexican immigrants (and would-be immigrants) as they clash with the border patrol culture twenty-some years ago The Border is definitely worth a look. Particularly vivid is the depiction of the absurdities and hypocrisies among the coyotes, the "wets," the border patrol rank-and-file, the law and the realities of life along both sides of the thin strip separating the promised land from the third world.Nicholson plays Charlie Smith, a border patrol cop with a trailer trash wife (Valerie Perrine) who yearns to move up to the luxury of duplex living. In particular she wants to move in next door to her high school girlfriend Savannah (Shannon Wilcox) who is married to the "Cat" (Harvey Keitel). Charlie Smith is a bit of an innocent who was satisfied with his trailer home and his sexy, loving, but not overly sharp, wife Mary. When they do pick up and move to Texas he runs headlong into the corrupt lifestyle of the Cat and the cruel realities of his job which consists of arresting illegal immigrants and sending them back to Mexico. Meanwhile Mary isn't just sitting home twiddling her thumbs. Instead she is out buying water beds and dinette sets, overstuffed chairs and sofas, and other knickknacks that put a strain on the couple's budget which leads Charlie into temptation. But when taking kickbacks turns to murder, Charlie draws the line in the sand (literally as it happens) and he and the Cat have a rather rude falling out. Meanwhile Charles spots Carrillo as the lovely Maria with babe in arms and a little brother at her side. Predictably the system cruelly exploits her, bringing Charlie to her rescue.I think the striking contrast between Charlie's air-headed Mary and the desperate and needy Maria needed to be further explored. As it was played Charlie is just a good joe doing a good deed or two when in fact we know he is much more involved than that. I think the movie would have been improved by making him choose between the two women as he had to make the moral choice between going with the Cat's corruption or going against him.See this for Jack Nicholson, one of the great actors of our time, who brings subtlety and veracity to a role that could have been ordinary, while giving us only a hint of the commanding and irreverent style that he would adopt in later years."