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The Border

4.1 out of 5 stars 61 customer reviews

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(May 11, 2004)
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Editorial Reviews

Academy Award winner Jack Nicholson stars in this gripping drama of a man torn between his career and his conscience. As a border guard involved in drug smuggling along the Rio Grande, Charlie Smith (Nicholson) has crossed the line many times. But when he decides to clean up his act and help unite an "illegal" woman with her baby, he runs afoul of his corrupt department, his greedy wife (Valerie Perrine) and a ruthless neighbor (Harvey Keitel) in this action-packed suspense-thriller.

Special Features

  • Theatrical Trailer

  • Product Details

    • Actors: Jack Nicholson, Harvey Keitel, Valerie Perrine, Warren Oates, Elpidia Carrillo
    • Directors: Tony Richardson
    • Writers: Deric Washburn, Walon Green, David Freeman
    • Producers: Jr. Edgar Bronfman
    • Format: Multiple Formats, Color, NTSC
    • Language: English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono)
    • Subtitles: French, Spanish
    • Subtitles for the Hearing Impaired: English
    • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
    • Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
    • Number of discs: 1
    • Rated:
      R
      Restricted
    • Studio: Universal Studios Home Entertainment
    • DVD Release Date: May 11, 2004
    • Run Time: 109 minutes
    • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (61 customer reviews)
    • ASIN: B0001FGBW0
    • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #54,491 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
    • Learn more about "The Border" on IMDb

    Customer Reviews

    Top Customer Reviews

    Format: VHS Tape
    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.
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    Format: VHS Tape
    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.
    4 Comments 23 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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    Format: DVD
    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.
    Comment 17 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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    Format: VHS Tape
    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.
    Read more ›
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