Thursday, January 31, 2008

Bordertown (Archie Mayo, 1935)

**½
USA



There's something cathartic about the notion of Paul Muni and Bette Davis sharing scenes. You can only guess at the kind of fanatic scramble that would ensue between them to outdo each other's scenery chewing. But this hypothesis doesn't take into account the fact that two such ferocious egos could only subsist in their own individual, bloated bubbles. Even in a single, constricted set they will inevitably fail to take note of - much less play off of - each other. Muni plays a reformed hoodlum forever thwarted by his ethnic background. Davis is a dissatisfied trophy bride who develops an attraction to him. It's one of the more crudely contrived Warners message pictures.

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