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Border Cafe (1937)

Passed | | Music, Romance, Western | 4 June 1937 (USA)
Easterner Keith Whitney, son of a wealthy Senator, heads west where he ends up a drunk at a border cafe. After losing the money his father sent him to buy a ranch he learns his father is ... See full summary »


Lew Landers


Lionel Houser (screenplay), Thomas Gill (story "In the Mexican Quarter")




Complete credited cast:
Harry Carey ... Tex Stevens
John Beal ... Keith Whitney
Armida ... Dominga
George Irving ... Senator Henry Whitney
Leona Roberts ... Mrs. Emily Whitney
J. Carrol Naish ... Rocky Alton
Marjorie Lord ... Janet Barry
Lee Patrick ... Ellie
Paul Fix ... Doley Dolson
Max Wagner ... Shakey
Walter Miller ... Evans


Easterner Keith Whitney, son of a wealthy Senator, heads west where he ends up a drunk at a border cafe. After losing the money his father sent him to buy a ranch he learns his father is arriving. Rancher Tex now takes him in and tells his father he is part owner. When his father and girlfriend are kidnaped, Tex and a now reformed Keith take out after them. Written by Maurice VanAuken <mvanauken@a1access.net>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Thrills and romance in a border town...where bullets speak louder than words! (original print ad) See more »


Music | Romance | Western


Passed | See all certifications »






Release Date:

4 June 1937 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

A Grande Surpresa See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

RKO Radio Pictures See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Mono (RCA Victor System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


Film debut of Marjorie Lord. See more »


El Rancho Grande (I Love My Rancho Grande)
Music by Silvano Ramos (uncredited)
Spanish words by J.D. Del Moral
Performed in Spanish by Armida in the cafe
Played as background music
See more »

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User Reviews

A comfortable hour with the genial Harry Carey.
4 November 2012 | by audiemurphSee all my reviews

Watching a Western starring Harry Carey is like sitting in comfy sweats with your favorite book under a warm bright lamp while it snows outside. Carey always brings a smile to your face, a sense of familiarity, and a feeling of safety and security. He is the father figure we all want.

Now this movie, Border Cafe, certainly did not require Carey to go out on any acting limb. He just played himself. But good God, do I love just seeing him on the screen, with his careful, always polite gravelly voice, and favorite mannerisms, like the way he, while thinking, rubs his chin with his thumb.

He shares top billing with John Beal, who is fine, playing the rebellious young scion of a senator who needs to grow up. And "Armida", the little Mexican ball of fire playing Beal's love interest, is not bad either. But Carey easily steals the movie. He is a generous man, financially and spiritually, and there is nothing like that big genial smile of his, which he sprinkles liberally throughout this movie, to bring a smile to my own.

Look for two funny moments, when Carey, surprised by stunning statements made by other characters, stares straight at the camera, eyes wide open, in shock. Great moments, great close-ups, honoring one of the Westerns great actors.

Happily, the film does not pad the movie with too much stock photography of cowboys riding horses. In fact, the best decision the director made was to include a quite long scene in which Carey and George Irving simply sit next to each other in conversation, taking turns bragging about their respective ancestors, each engaged in a spiraling attempt to top the other. The scene isn't really necessary, but to me it was the most enjoyable in the whole film, allowing the viewers to just bathe in Harry Carey's company.

One other funny thing about this film: the gangsters seem to have walked right out of an Edward G. Robinson set, complete with New York or Chicago accents, yet they claim to be from Kansas, and everyone believes them! They fit into the Western landscape like Robinson with a machine gun fits into a junior prom, yet nobody questions there presence. Quite silly, but all in fun.

Though a very B-Western, not a bad way at all to spend an hour.

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