Saturday, January 25, 2014

Border Incident (1949)

WHO: Anthony Mann directed this.

WHAT: I shall quote the opening sentence from the beautiful Noir City 12 program guide which I just received upon arrival at the Castro yesterday evening:
Two cops -- one from Mexico (Ricardo Montalban) and one from the U.S. (George Murphy) -- put their lives on the line as they go undercover to bust up ruthless gangs on both sides of the border that prey on undocumented Mexican braceros
WHERE/WHEN: High noon today at the Castro Theatre, and 8:40PM Friday, February 21st at the Pacific Film Archive.

WHY: I'm not going to be putting up posts about films featured in this year's Noir City festival every day between now and next Sunday when it ends (I have another project planned for this space, not wholly unrelated to Noir City), but I just can't resist sharing the above DVD screen capture. This is John Alton cinematography at simultaneously its most picturesque and threatening, and if it doesn't make you want to see it projected in 35mm I don't know what's wrong with you.

I don't talk much about Border Incident in my recent Fandor article about this year's Noir City, which I know I linked here yesterday but will urge you once again to read if you haven't yet. Other Noir City articles that I've not yet linked on this blog include Dennis Harvey's SF Bay Guardian article, and another interview with festival founder Eddie Muller. Anyway, I think Border Incident is an ideal way to kick off a day of five (rounding up when you count the small Mexico-related portion of Too Late For Tears) Mexico-themed noir films including two made within that country's industry. Anthony Mann made quite a number of films involving Mexico and Mexican-Americans, from his 1956 drama Serenade to Westerns like The Furies and Man of the West, to the Mexico City-set noir The Great Flamarion, which screened a few years ago at a Hollywood-goes-to-Mexico noir series at the Pacific Film Archive.  But Border Incident contains elements of all these genres and perhaps one more, the "semi-documentary" subgenre of noir that was popular in the late 1940s. 

Last night's pairing of Journey Into Fear and The Third Man was a Castro sell-out. I'm curious to see if the numbers will hold up throughout the week. I hope they will, but do wonder if more than a few fans wish the festival featured more Hollywood noir along the lines they're used to. Perhaps they'll come out instead for the Castro's February 9th double-bill of famous Rita Hayworth noirs set at least partially in the Latin American countries Noir City is showcasing: Lady From Shanghai, with its famous scenes set in Mexico, and Gilda, set in Argentina. I hesitate to tell them about the seven-title Anthony Mann crime film series coming to the PFA next month. It includes Border Incident and six others, including three more shot by Alton.

HOW: Border Incident screens on a triple-bill with Roberto Gavaldón's In The Palm of Your Hand and Emilio Fernández's Victims of Sin at the Castro today, and will screen the same day as Mann's He Walked By Night (though as a separate admission) at the PFA next month.

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