Skip to content

Borderline (1980)

borderline poster

In the list of films credited to have “starred” Charles Bronson, Borderline seems but a blip on the radar and is generally one of his lesser known efforts from his leading man days. Perhaps it’s because it’s not an outright variation on his Paul Kersey character like so many of his roles for Cannon Studios turned out to be from 1982 forward. Still he does have his sights set on bringing a killer to justice. The actor in question has become a heavyweight of his own in films. Mr. Ed Harris.

From my point of view as a self proclaimed fan of the mustached one, Borderline represents a personal right of passage. It’s the first film of Charlie’s that I was allowed to see at the theater growing up as it wasn’t rated R. It also has one heck of a film poster and yes, it’s in my collection as is the films’ original press kit.

20150816_175725

Directed by Jerold Freedman, Borderline tells of the business involved in smuggling aliens across the U.S border near San Diego California. It’s here that Bronson stars as the head of a group of Rangers on constant patrol along the U.S. /Mexico border. John Ashton, Norman Alden and the well known Wilford Brimley make up part of his team. Arriving as well playing a young rookie that Bronson will mentor is Bruno Kirby.

Charles Bronson in Borderline (1980)

On a late night routine check, one of Bronson’s crew will pull over a produce truck and sure enough discover a load of illegal aliens on board. What he doesn’t expect is Ed Harris holding a shotgun. Harris leaves both the officer and a young boy making his way to the U.S. in the ditch killed by the blast.

At this point you could expect the typical Bronson to turn up and while he does swear he’ll get his man it’s a slow methodical search that leads him to the big city and based on an address in the boy’s pocket, the child’s Mother played by Karmin Murcelo. Murcelo will in turn play an important part in helping Bronson by going back over the border to arrange being smuggled in once again. This time with her mute cousin who is actually Bronson undercover. Things don’t quite go right but it allows Bronson to get that much closer to the smuggling operation and his prey Ed Harris.

BORDERLINE, first two from left: Charles Bronson, Karmin Murcelo, 1980. ©Associated Film Distribution

“He’s like a bulldog.” This from rancher Bert Remsen to his big city counterpart Michael Lerner who are the head men in the operation of moving aliens across the border for low wage work through out the country. Thanks to the wily Harris they have turned their operation into a substantially profitable business.

Along with his staff and the young Bruno Kirby, Bronson will set off a sting operation intended to take down the big city operation and avenge the life of his friend and co-worker by facing off against Harris. Mano a Mano.

ed harris borderline

While this isn’t the usual Bronson gun fest it’s still enjoyable for the fans and perhaps just as topical as ever in today’s current political arena.

Bronson’s performance here is one of experience as he oversees his crew and also as teacher to Kirby. It’s through Kirby’s eyes that we see the suffering of those being smuggled in looking to fulfill not only their dreams but to find work and be useful.

The best performance in the film comes from Karmin Murcelo who must deal with both the anguish and grief of losing her son to Harris’s killer but also by having to worry about Bronson sending her back across the border after making her way illegally to the U.S.

This film was available years back on VHS but fell by the wayside until just recently being released on DVD in Canada. Though I wish the print was better and widescreen would have been welcomed, I’ll settle for this and add it to the library thus replacing my VHS version.

bert remsen

Character player Bert Remsen has one of those faces that you know you’ve seen a hundred times before but perhaps can’t put a name to the face. Would you believe that he even turned up opposite Bronson way back in an episode of Bronson’s TV show Man With a Camera back in 1958!

Worth a look for fans of Bronson and those looking to see him try a characterization just a little different from the avenging angel we’re used to.

10 Comments »

  1. I remember this one from when it was first released. I just looked up Bronson to see what his last film was, and it was interesting to see that in his last dozen or so years of acting, he starred in several violence-themed movies…and one Christmas film! Not sure if that was a straight dramatic role, or that of a vengeful father out to seek justice on one of Kris Kringle’s elves.

    • That Xmas flick had him playing straight drama as the author of the famous poem. I remember it being a good role and mirroring his real life somewhat as he is a recent widower in the film that was shortly after Jill Ireland’s death.

  2. You know… this would go fantastically as a double feature with Mr. Majestyk. Bronson as an immigrant-hiring melon farmer in one and an immigrant chasing (okay, Ed Harris-chasing, actually) lawman in the other. 😀

      • And I just thought of a film (that wouldn’t have ever been made) with Bronson as Majestyk with Lee Marvin as Walker (from Point Blank): “He wants to get his melons in. He (still) wants his 93 grand. When their paths cross, the screen will EXPLODE!”

        As lousy an idea as that is, I’d still see it a few times.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

"DESTROY ALL FANBOYS!"

Smashing System Bias Since 1972...

Movies ala Mark

With a Cast of Thousands

Classic Horrors

From silent screen to Halloween, and everything scary in between.

IDENTIKIT

The current online container for the writer Konrad Wardh

Just Hit Play

The Good, the Bad and sometimes Ugly in film

Strother Martin Film Project

What we've got here is failure to communicate

Sophia Riley Kobacker

it's all about the story, possums...

Wolfmans Cult Film Club

Cult, B-Movies, cheesy fun films to Film Noir to classics new to me.

Talking Pulp

All things pulp and then some

cinema cities

a personal odyssey through film

Mark David Welsh

Watching the strangest movies - so you don't have to...

Scenes from the Morgue

The Lost Art of Pulp Ads: Film, Booze, Smokes & More!

Film Speech

All things film and television

Diary of A Movie Maniac

A Personal Journey Through Cinema & Television

portraitsbyjenni

My perspective on life & Classic Movie Recommendations

Statis Pro 1978 Replay

Methodically replaying every game of the 1978 baseball season!

4 Star Films

Looking deeper at the best classic movies

everythingnoir

Movies, Television, Books....Everything Noir

Chaplin-Keaton-Lloyd film locations (and more)

by John Bengtson "the great detective of silent film locations" New York Times

Sister Celluloid

Where old movies go to live

Silent-ology

Uncovering the silent era

Canadian Cinephile

"The only way to get rid of my fears is to make films about them." - Alfred Hitchcock

Noirish

The annex to John Grant's *A Comprehensive Encyclopedia of Film Noir*

Cinema Monolith

Reviews of movies from my giant DVD tower, and more.

Sunset Boulevard

Writings of a Cinephile

The Bogie Film Blog

A Film by Film Affair with Humphrey Bogart

Vienna's Classic Hollywood

Vintage Hollywood films and stars

The Film Authority

You're ten seconds from watching an amazing film...

Once upon a screen...

...a classic film and TV blog

shadowsandsatin

. . where the worlds of film noir and pre-code collide . .

hitchcockmaster

Where Suspense Lives!

Tipping My Fedora

Enjoying mystery, crime and suspense in all media

Silver Screenings

An Irreverent Blog of Old Movies

monsterminions

They Don't Make 'Em Like They Used To

Comet Over Hollywood

Home for classic movie lovers

filmgeek101

classic movie views for the classic and not-so-classic movie fan

Riding the High Country

Reviews and ramblings

Speakeasy

movies galore

"DESTROY ALL FANBOYS!"

Smashing System Bias Since 1972...

Movies ala Mark

With a Cast of Thousands

Classic Horrors

From silent screen to Halloween, and everything scary in between.

IDENTIKIT

The current online container for the writer Konrad Wardh

Just Hit Play

The Good, the Bad and sometimes Ugly in film

Strother Martin Film Project

What we've got here is failure to communicate

Sophia Riley Kobacker

it's all about the story, possums...

Wolfmans Cult Film Club

Cult, B-Movies, cheesy fun films to Film Noir to classics new to me.

Talking Pulp

All things pulp and then some

cinema cities

a personal odyssey through film

Mark David Welsh

Watching the strangest movies - so you don't have to...

Scenes from the Morgue

The Lost Art of Pulp Ads: Film, Booze, Smokes & More!

Film Speech

All things film and television

Diary of A Movie Maniac

A Personal Journey Through Cinema & Television

portraitsbyjenni

My perspective on life & Classic Movie Recommendations

Statis Pro 1978 Replay

Methodically replaying every game of the 1978 baseball season!

4 Star Films

Looking deeper at the best classic movies

everythingnoir

Movies, Television, Books....Everything Noir

Chaplin-Keaton-Lloyd film locations (and more)

by John Bengtson "the great detective of silent film locations" New York Times

Sister Celluloid

Where old movies go to live

Silent-ology

Uncovering the silent era

Canadian Cinephile

"The only way to get rid of my fears is to make films about them." - Alfred Hitchcock

Noirish

The annex to John Grant's *A Comprehensive Encyclopedia of Film Noir*

Cinema Monolith

Reviews of movies from my giant DVD tower, and more.

Sunset Boulevard

Writings of a Cinephile

The Bogie Film Blog

A Film by Film Affair with Humphrey Bogart

Vienna's Classic Hollywood

Vintage Hollywood films and stars

The Film Authority

You're ten seconds from watching an amazing film...

Once upon a screen...

...a classic film and TV blog

shadowsandsatin

. . where the worlds of film noir and pre-code collide . .

hitchcockmaster

Where Suspense Lives!

Tipping My Fedora

Enjoying mystery, crime and suspense in all media

Silver Screenings

An Irreverent Blog of Old Movies

monsterminions

They Don't Make 'Em Like They Used To

Comet Over Hollywood

Home for classic movie lovers

filmgeek101

classic movie views for the classic and not-so-classic movie fan

Riding the High Country

Reviews and ramblings

Speakeasy

movies galore

%d bloggers like this: