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Border Incident (1949)

Border Incident (1949)

(p.170) Chapter 14 Border Incident (1949)
The Crime Films of Anthony Mann
Max Alvarez
University Press of Mississippi

In this chapter, Anthony Mann’s first M-G-M film, Border Incident, originally developed as an Eagle-Lion sequel to T-Men, is analyzed. The story of gangsters exploiting undocumented Mexican migrant workers (“braceros”) and smuggling them into the U.S., incorporates elements of the noir, policier, western, and social document. Noteworthy for casting a Mexican actor (Ricardo Montalban) in a heroic role as a Federal Police agent working undercover, Border Incident takes a timely subject matter and effectively frames it within a commercial structure. Filmed on location along the U.S.-Mexico border, the film contains some of Mann’s first “western” images with views of men on horseback and mountain pass shootouts. Aspects of the film closely examined include the origins and controversies of the bracero program, the evolution of the film narrative, the alterations in political content from treatment to screenplay stages, and frame captures of several pivotal sequences cinematographer John Alton captured for Mann.

Keywords:   M-G-M, Eagle-Lion, migrant, braceros, policier, noir, Mexico

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