Borderline (1950 film)

Borderline is a 1950 American film noir crime film directed by William A. Seiter starring Fred MacMurray and Claire Trevor. It was filmed from late May to early July 1949 at Republic Studios.[2]

Directed byWilliam A. Seiter
Produced byMilton H. Bren
Screenplay byDevery Freeman
Story byDevery Freeman
Norman Krasna
StarringFred MacMurray
Claire Trevor
Music byHans J. Salter
CinematographyLucien Andriot A.S.C.
Edited byHarry Keller
Milton H. Bren
and William A. Seiter
Borderline Productions
Distributed byUniversal International
Release date
  • March 1, 1950 (1950-03-01) (United States)
Running time
88 minutes
CountryUnited States


Pete Ritchie (Raymond Burr) runs a narcotics smuggling operation to the USA from Mexico, which the Los Angeles Police Department and the US federal government have unsuccessfully tried to stop. Because of Ritchie's careful operating procedures, US authorities haven't even been able to find out the identities of his sources or customers and are desperate for a breakthrough. As a last resort, Madeleine Haley (Claire Trevor), an LAPD officer and former OSS operative, is sent undercover to Mexico to charm her way into Ritchie's confidence.

Once there, Haley manages to establish contact with Ritchie's gang, but is kidnapped by Johnny Macklin (Fred MacMurray), a federal agent posing as a hoodlum working for a rival of Ritchie's and who also steals a load of Ritchie's narcotics. Haley plays along and joins Macklin on a smuggling trip for the stolen narcotics, with Ritchie in hot pursuit.


Character names are not indicated in on-screen cast credits
Fred MacMurrayJohnny McEvoy, posing as Johnny Macklin
Claire TrevorMadeleine Haley, posing as Gladys LaRue
Raymond BurrPete Ritchie
Jose TorvayMiguel
Morris AnkrumBill Whittaker
Roy RobertsHarvey Gumbin
Don DiamondDeusik
Nacho GalindoPorfirio
Pepe HernPablo
Grazia NarcisoPorfirio's Wife
Clifton YoungSuspect questioned by Whittaker
Charles LanePeterson, customs officer
Johnny IndrisanoGumbin's henchman
Chrispin MartinPepi, hotel clerk


The film was based on a story by Norman Krasna. The budget was kept down by the key creatives deferring their play.[1]

Evaluation in film guides

Steven H. Scheuer's TV Movie Almanac & Ratings 1958 & 1959 gives Borderline a "Fair" rating of 2 stars (out of 4), summarizing its plot as "[A] policewoman is sent to get the goods on dope smugglers working from Los Angeles to Mexico" with the evaluation, "[U]ncertain melodrama wavers between seriousness and farce, is successful at neither". 35 years later, in the 1993–1994 edition, the plot was revised to "[A] policewoman goes undercover as a chorus girl to crack a ring of drug smugglers".

Leonard Maltin's TV Movies & Video Guide (1989 edition) slightly raises the rating to 2½ stars (out of 4) and concludes that "Trevor and MacMurray work well together as law enforcers each tracking down dope smugglers on Mexican border, neither knowing the other isn't a crook". By the time of the third edition (2015) of Maltin's Classic Movie Guide, the rating had been lowered to the Scheuer level of 2 and the write-up changed to "[O]dd thriller-comedy in which L.A. cop Trevor attempts to gather evidence against wily drug smuggler Burr while mixing with tough guy MacMurray in Mexico. Starts out promisingly, but soon bogs down in silliness. Burr makes a vivid villain."


  1. HOLLYWOOD DIGEST: New York Times 19 June 1949: X5.
  2. Borderline at the American Film Institute Catalog
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