Tuesday, July 09, 2013

Tonight's Movie: Border Cafe (1937)

BORDER CAFE is an enjoyable RKO "B" film from director Lew Landers, teaming Harry Carey Sr. and John Beal.

Beal plays Keith Whitney, a senator's son who can't seem to settle down to a steady job in the family law firm. He ditches his parents (George Irving and Leona Roberts) and fiancee Janet (Marjorie Lord) and heads for a border town.

Keith is on a permanent bender and seems headed for a short life as an alcoholic when he is taken under the wing of kindly rancher Tex Stevens (Carey). Keith is upset when he learns his parents are coming for a visit, as they'll realize he frittered away $2000 they wired him for a "business investment," thinking he was turning his life around.

Tex agrees to tell Keith's parents that Keith is his partner, and as Keith learns the ranching business so he can present a believable front to his parents, he learns to love ranching for real. He also learns to love Dominga (Armida), a singer in the titular border cafe who becomes a cook on the ranch.

This is a nice little 67-minute movie which made me smile from the moment the title BORDER CAFE started blinking as a neon sign in the opening credits. Armida has a couple pleasant musical numbers, and the storyline gains in strength as the film goes on and Keith finally starts to mature. I found this a very satisfactory "B" film.

One of the fun aspects is the chance to see 18-year-old Marjorie Lord in her very first film. I had the chance to see her interviewed in person at a screening of her 1943 film JOHNNY COME LATELY last spring; it's rather wonderful that someone who was an ingenue in the late '30s is still with us to share her memories! By coincidence, over the last few days I watched Lord's longtime spouse, John Archer, in THE BIG TREES (1952) and CITY OF FEAR (1959). Lord and Archer's daughter is actress Anne Archer.

Carey and Beal were also paired in the same year's DANGER PATROL (1937), another film directed by Landers. Over a decade later, Beal would narrate Disney's SO DEAR TO MY HEART (1948), which was Carey's final film role, as a judge at the county fair.

If you don't blink you'll spot Lee Patrick in the cast of BORDER CAFE. J. Carrol Naish and Paul Fix are also in the cast.

The movie was shot by Nicholas Musuraca, who would go on to shoot some of Hollywood's greatest film noir titles in the '40s and '50s, including OUT OF THE PAST (1947).

BORDER CAFE is not on DVD or video, but it can be seen on Turner Classic Movies.

Films directed by Lew Landers which have previously been reviewed at this site: NIGHT WAITRESS (1936), WITHOUT ORDERS (1936), FLIGHT FROM GLORY (1937), THEY WANTED TO MARRY (1937), THE MAN WHO FOUND HIMSELF (1937), DANGER PATROL (1937), DOUBLE DANGER (1938), CRASHING HOLLYWOOD (1938), SKY GIANT (1938), SMASHING THE RACKETS (1938), TWELVE CROWDED HOURS (1939), CONSPIRACY (1939), STAND BY ALL NETWORKS (1942), ALIAS BOSTON BLACKIE (1942), THUNDER MOUNTAIN (1947), DAVY CROCKETT, INDIAN SCOUT (1950), and MAN IN THE DARK (1952).


Blogger Robby Cress said...

Cosmic timing. I just did a post this morning that includes a filming location for another film with Harry Carey - HAPPY LAND.

You won me over on watching this film with the blinking neon sign for the title credits.

8:37 AM  
Blogger Laura said...

Hi Robby, I'm heading over to check out your post now! I haven't seen HAPPY LAND yet but I love Frances Dee, one of the stars.

Hope you get the chance to check out BORDER CAFE.

Best wishes,

11:22 PM  

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