“Do you think you can handle this?”
Aww, isn’t that cute? Trevor’s character, a smart and experienced member of the Los Angeles Police Department, is asked if she can handle this. To her credit, she refrains from a sarcastic reply.
Trevor is primarily selected for the assignment because she is an attractive woman who is supposed to seduce elusive drug lord Raymond Burr. However, it’s not until she arrives in Mexico that her mad espionage skills become evident. In the War on Drugs, Trevor proves herself to be a regular Sun Tzu.
But if busting up a drug ring weren’t tricky enough, Trevor has the added complication of trying not to fall in love with Burr’s drug-trafficking rival, Fred MacMurray.
What’s this? You’re surprised that a mainstream comedy from 1950 would explore drug trafficking?
Turns out the U.S. and Mexican governments have a long history of duking it out over drugs. Things began to get a little tense during Prohibition when folks discovered marijuana was cheaper than alcohol. (If you’d like to read more on the subject of Mexican drug trafficking, you can check out the UNESCO paper HERE.)
And let’s just overlook the fact that the Hollywood film community has long been a supporter of the narcotics industry, even though it makes movies that say Drugs Are Bad.
As for the film Borderline, it isn’t clear what kind of narcotics are being shipped into the U.S. But we know the payoff is worth the risk, because both sides are putting their Best People on the case.
So if anyone is going to make major advances in this war on drugs, it’s our gal Trevor. The only tools she needs are her wits and permanent press wardrobe.
Oh – and this nifty spy camera, which she pulls out of her sleek handbag:
How does Trevor topple a Mexican drug ring? Her approach is simple; she uses a classic Three-Pronged Attack:
- Improvisation. When the menacing Burr catches her snooping through his bedroom, she immediately acts inebriated. She also pretends she finds Burr charming and irresistible – which in itself is quite a feat.
- Focus. In another scene, she wakes up in a warehouse and discovers MacMurray had knocked her out by “socking” her in the jaw and dumping her in the warehouse. No matter! Trevor shakes it off and refuses to be dissuaded from her Primary Objective.
- Determination. Nobody, and we mean nobody, is getting the best of her, even if she has to trudge through the dusty Mexican countryside, dragging a birdcage stuffed with drugs. (And her superior officers wondered if she could handle it!)
Borderline is a rather uneven movie. Sometimes it’s a Capra-esque comedy, while other times it swerves into film noir territory. However, it has a great cast, a witty script and Californian scenery that feels authentically Mexican. If you’re in the mood for a non-edgy crime flick, give Borderline a try.
- Classic film blogger Sister Celluloid introduced us to this film through her Streaming Saturdays feature. (Yup, this means free online movies each weekend!) Her fab review, along with the movie itself, is HERE.
- For a completely different take on this film, check out the review from BNoirDetour HERE.
- IMDB Trivia on Borderline is HERE.
Borderline: starring Fred MacMurray, Claire Trevor, Raymond Burr. Directed by William A. Seiter. Written by Devery Freeman. Universal Pictures Company, Inc., 1950, B&W, 88 mins.