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There is a problem with foreign nationals using Cuba as a convenient jumping off point for illegal entry into the United States. So U.S. Immigration Service Agent Peter Karczag (John Hodiak) is sent to Havana posing as a Hungarian frustrated with the legal immigration process and open to an alternative. By this means he uncovers the human smuggling ring run by Palinov (George Macready). He also meets concentration-camp refugee Marianne Lorress (Hedy Lamarr), a Viennese working in a nightclub and one who has paid to be smuggled into the United States. When Karczag falls in love with her, he becomes conflicted, not wanting her to be among those he plans to have captured in his operation. So he tries to persuade her to stay in Cuba instead of being secretly flown to the United States. Will he succeed? What if his cover is blown?Written by
Fred Edwords <FEdwords@Gmail.com>
Before they went wide screen MGM, had a brief period of taking on likely action movie directors and pouring more money into their work than they or the audience were used to. Anthony Mann benefited with BORDER INCIDENT. John Sturges got THE PEOPLE AGAINST O'HARA and Joe Lewis scored this sweaty thriller, where the character people who enlivened his Columbia work can be seen milling round behind Metro's contract leads.
The director was demoted to B movies after this, rather unjustly, as it's not only probably his most ambitious outing but also a very efficient entertainment. Lewis' handling breaks through the Metro gloss occasionally - the facing profiles of the death struggle, McCready firing into the fog after Hodiak has tricked him.
The immigrant smuggling story adds surprising elements like the professionalism of the bad guys. "If he is killed he will be replaced - probably by a smarter man."
One of the best aspects is the film's picture of Cuba, with Hodiak squiring Hedy's double round the real city along with studio construction which runs to a functional tramway, art director interiors and back projection. The seedy, fading opulent hotel the leads share is particularly evocative.
While the process work occasionally shows, the model plane crash is a considerable set piece.
The glamour shots of Hedy reveal the studio input, not altogether to the film's advantage. She acts well enough and looks mature-appealing with the hints of having been around enough to accept McCready's protection.
Surprisingly sympathetic treatment of aliens "A little thing like an accent, a foreign name will set you apart" relates to the Dore Schary era multi culturalism of BAD DAY AT BLACK ROCK or BORDER INCIDENT again.
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