BORDERLINE (director: William A. Seiter; screenwriters: story by Norman Krasna & Devery Freeman/Devery Freeman; cinematographer: Lucien Andriot; editor: Harry Keller; music: Hans J. Salter; cast: Fred MacMurray (Johnny McEvoy/Johnny Macklin), Claire Trevor (Madeleine Haley/Gladys La Rue), Raymond Burr (Pete Richie), Morris Ankrum (Whittaker), Roy Roberts (Harvey Gumbin), Jose Torvay (Miguel), Richard Irving (Al), Charles Lane (Peterson, custom agent), Don Diamond (Deusik), Nacho Galindo (Porfirio); Runtime: 88; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Milton H. Bren; Universal-International; 1950)
“The seriocomic crime drama had too few thrills to be thrilling.”
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
Director William A. Seiter(“If I Had A Million”/”Dimples”/”Room Service”) gets more comedy than action in this uneven low budget thriller about a drug bust on both the Mexico and California borders. It’s based on a story by Norman Krasna & Devery Freeman, and with the script by Freeman.
LAPD policewoman Madeleine Haley (Claire Trevor, wife of producer Milton Bren) is assigned by the police narcotics department to get evidence against drug smuggler Pete Richie (Raymond Burr), and uses the alias Gladys La Rue while pretending to be a dancehall bimbo. The LAPD cop is unaware that federal agent Johnny McEvoy, using the alias Johnny Macklin (Fred MacMurray), is also assigned undercover to the case. While Macklin infiltrates the California connection by working as a strong-arm for drug kingpin Harvey Gumbin (Roy Roberts), La Rue works for Ritchie. Still unaware that they are both cops, Richie’s gang is rounded up in Mexico by the Mexican agents working with Macklin. Meanwhile the undercover agents show a love interest in each other, but remain loyal to their duty. When returning from Ensenada, Mexico, they both learn at the border crossing the truth and at first are irate until Gumbin is taking down in a raid in LA and it sinks in that they are the good guys and are in love. This time they kiss and mean it.
The seriocomic crime drama had too few thrills to be thrilling, but the stars performed admirably.
The film’s funniest line comes at the beginning, when Trevor is trying to convince the top cop she’s suited to go undercover and nail Burr: Cop 1 “It’ll never work. Ritchie goes for cheap, tawdry dames. Cop 2 “She’ll do.
REVIEWED ON 8/7/2013 GRADE: C+
Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”
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