The Border (1982 film)

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The Border
Border imp.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed byTony Richardson
Produced byEdgar Bronfman Jr.
Written byDeric Washburn
Walon Green
David Freeman
StarringJack Nicholson
Harvey Keitel
Valerie Perrine
Warren Oates
Elpidia Carrillo
Dirk Blocker
Music byRy Cooder
CinematographyRic Waite
Edited byRobert K. Lambert
Distributed byUniversal Pictures
Release date
  • January 31, 1982 (1982-01-31)
Running time
109 minutes
CountryUnited States
Budget$22 million[1]
Box office$6,118,683 (US)[2]

The Border is a 1982 American neo-noir[3] drama film directed by Tony Richardson and starring Jack Nicholson, Harvey Keitel, Valerie Perrine, Elpidia Carrillo and Warren Oates.


Immigration enforcement agent Charlie Smith lives in California with his wife, Marcy, in a trailer. She persuades him to move to a duplex in El Paso shared by her friend and border agent Cat. She opens a charge account and starts to purchase expensive items like a water bed as she tries to build a dream home.

Cat gradually introduces Charlie to the human smuggling operation he runs with their supervisor Red. Though Charlie initially declines to participate, his wife's free-spending ways make him finally take part in the operation. Meanwhile, a young Mexican mother, Maria, that he has observed is detained, and while she is in their custody, one of Cat's drivers abducts her baby for an illegal adoption. Cat warns the driver not to do anything but transport people in trucks, and that if he runs drugs or babies, Cat will hurt him.

Charlie finally realizes that Cat and Red are killing drivers who make money off side ventures or anyone who gets in their way. Charlie makes it clear to Cat that he will not be a party to murder. In the film's climax, he is forced to kill Cat. He tracks down the kidnapped infant and returns it to Maria.


Production notes[edit]

The opening earthquake scenes were filmed in Antigua -specifically in La Recoleccion ruins[4]- and Guatemala City, Guatemala.


Vincent Canby of the New York Times said the movie "has the sort of predictable outrage and shape of a made-for-television movie. It has suspense but little excitement. Once the people and the situation have been introduced, there's not a single surprise in the film, nothing of the uncharacteristic sort that differentiates the adequate melodrama from one that is special and memorable. Like so many films prompted by real-life social problems, The Border is a movie in which the characters appear to have been created to fit the events. Missing is any sense of particularity, as well as the excitement that comes when the members of the audience are allowed to discover some sort of truth for themselves." [5]


  1. ^ "The Border (1982) - Box office / business". Internet Movie Database. Retrieved March 19, 2011.
  2. ^ "The Border (1982)". Box Office Mojo. Internet Movie Database. Retrieved March 19, 2011.
  3. ^ Silver, Alain; Ward, Elizabeth; eds. (1992). Film Noir: An Encyclopedic Reference to the American Style (3rd ed.). Woodstock, New York: The Overlook Press. ISBN 0-87951-479-5
  4. ^ "The Border (introduction)". YouTube. 1982. Retrieved 26 October 2015.
  5. ^ Vincent Canby, "Jack Nicholson in 'The Border'" Jan. 29, 1982

External links[edit]