Wednesday, 13 August 2014

Borderline (1950)

This is the last film in the Golden Crime pack and except for Scarface - which was the reason I bought the pack in the first place - it's the best.

This is at least partly a result of the cast, which is certainly a cut above the average on these discs: Claire Trevor won an Academy award for Key Largo while Fred MacMurray was the lead in smash hit Double Indemnity.  They're a solid pair on which to base this 'romantic crime' film.

Trevor, best known for her bad girl roles, is cast against type as LAPD operative Madeleine Haley, but she settles into the role quite comfortably.  Sent to Mexico to infiltrate the narcotics smuggling operation of Pete Ritchie (played by a pre-Godzilla Raymond Burr), she walks into a feud between Ritchie and another gangster.  Said gangster mistakes her for one of Ritchie's employees and offers her the chance to work a job with his right hand man, Johnny Macklin.  Figuring she can turn Macklin in when they reach the border, she agrees.

Of course, getting to the border isn't going to be easy: the Mexican authorities don't know who she is, and while that would get sorted out in time, having to reveal her identity before the border would mean losing the chance to bust the US end of the smuggling ring.  To make matters worse, Ritchie is gunning for payback, and I do mean gunning.

So Haley's life is already pretty complicated.  She certainly doesn't need anything else to make it moreso.  Which is why it's so annoying that Johnny Macklin is handsome, smart, and - for all he's a crook - seems like a pretty good guy.  The kind of guy she could fall for.

Of course, this is Hollywood, so Johnny has a secret of his own.  You can probably guess what it is :)

There's some genuinely funny humour in this.  Some rather dated men vs women stuff too, but it is a 60+ year old film.  The cast is strong, and the script hums along quite nicely.  There's nothing groundbreaking to it, but I was entertained throughout.

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