Friday, March 3, 2023

Blood Of The Vines - Border Incidents

Pairing‌ ‌wine‌ ‌with‌ ‌movies!‌  ‌See‌ ‌the‌ ‌trailers‌ ‌and‌ ‌hear‌ ‌the‌ ‌fascinating‌ ‌commentary‌ ‌for‌ ‌these‌ ‌movies‌ ‌and‌ ‌many‌ ‌more‌ ‌at‌ ‌Trailers‌ ‌From‌ ‌Hell.‌ This week, we examine some films which border on the border.

The stars are here in The Border - Jack Nicholson, Harvey Keitel, Valerie Perrine, Warren Oates - in a noirish 1982 film about the southern US border. You know, the one that's leaking like a sieve? Lie. The one that needs a big, beautiful wall? Big lie. The one that's actually a river for about 2,000 miles? Truth.

Nicholson is an INS agent, one of the guys who patrols the border to keep us safe from those tired, poor, wretched huddled masses yearning to breathe free. Keitel, well, he and Oates are the dark side. You probably saw that one coming. 

The soundtrack is really worth a listen, with a score by Ry Cooder and other borderesque tunes by the likes of Freddy Fender and Sam The Sham. I recall that it made for some great listening while grilling hot links on the patio in the Texas summer sun. 

Remember when some tan seekers would slather themselves in baby oil before draping their bodies over a poolside chaise lounge? Popular radio stations would air a loud "ding" in their top 40 mix to let listeners know when it was time to turn over. If a woman wanted to sauté herself for me, I personally preferred that she used cocoa butter and some Chardonnay. 

That's a good pairing idea for The Border, a nice, buttery Chardonnay. There is one called Butter which you can pick up at the supermarket for less than $15. It also comes in a box, if that's how you roll in your double-wide. If you want to step up your game, Edna Valley Vineyards makes a great buttery Chardonnay for about $40.

Border Incident is an actual film noir, from 1949. Ricardo Montalbán and George Murphy star, along with Howard Da Silva, in a tale of two undercover agents trying to stop the smuggling of migrant workers from Mexico into California. It was done on a shoestring budget, and it shows in the lighting. So many shadows! Oh, I'm being told that cinematographer John Alton shot it that way on purpose. So that's where the noir comes in.

Montalbán, from Mexico by the way, said this was one of the few movies he made in which he was allowed to portray a Mexican. The narration that opens and closes the picture gets a bit jingoistic, but if you can get past that, the rewards are there with a story that is before its time, a visual presence that is stunning and acting that surpasses what might have been expected from MGM's tight purse strings.

Mexico's L.A. Cetto Winery offers a wide range of wines from the Valle de Guadalupe, just across the border. They make a nice Nebbiolo that sells for around $20 and is readily available in the U.S. 

One, Two, Three deals with a different border - that which existed in 1961 between the two halves of Germany. Directed and co-written by Billy Wilder, it's what the blurb writers used to call a Laff Riot, but you'd expect nothing less from Wilder. 

The film is set in West Berlin, before the wall between east and west was built. James Cagney delivers a tour de force performance as a big wig with the Coca Cola Company. He is called upon by his boss in Atlanta to play host to the big guy's teenage, southern belle daughter - who gets hitched to a card-carrying commie while vacationing in the Rhineland. Horst Buchholtz turns in a stellar job as the Red Devil from the East, while Pamela Tiffin scores as the impressionable Lady Coke. 

Spätburgunder is the German version of Pinot Noir, even though it sounds like Jimmy Cagney responding to a sneeze. Rudolf Fürst is considered a "magician" with the grape, and his wines run in the $30 range. One: buy the movie! Two: buy the wine! Three: enjoy your evening! Go!

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