One of the delights of trawling the film world for the ‘From the Vault’ section is seeking out stuff you have never heard of, let alone seen before.

Step forward Border Cop, a little-known thriller from 1980 starring Kojak himself, Telly Savalas.

Done and dusted in a brisk 85 minutes, this flick offers up action, hard-nosed dialogue and even a bit of immigration politics thrown in for good measure.

Savalas plays Frank Cooper, the border cop of the film’s title – a grizzled veteran of stop and search antics as he flushes out Mexican border jumpers.

Muddying the waters somewhat is the fact that Cooper has an affinity for those folk south of the border, and is on pretty friendly terms with a lot of them.

But a job is a job, and Cooper is good at it.

Things get rough though when Mexican people trafficker Suarez (Michael Gazzo) starts rounding up some of Cooper’s chums to ship them to labour camps in theUS.

Turns out Suarez is in cahoots with Cooper’s boss Moffat (Eddie Albert), so the no-nonsense cop has to decide whose side he really is on.

The flick starts off at a very brisk pace, with a border shootout-come-car-chase offering up some immediate action.

But things drift after that, and despite Savalas undoubtedly being the lead, he drifts in and out of the film, with a lot of the running time devoted to the romance between Benny and Leina Romero.

Savalas does ooze charisma, and his macho posturings sit well in this film environment.

Gazzo’s Suarez turns out to be pretty much a cardboard cutout villain, with a gang of bungling goons to boot.

It must also be said that a lot of the action takes place at night, making it very, very difficult to see what is going on.

The film also has a very abrupt ending, with what appears a tacked-on voiceover from Savalas to close.

Border Cop does have its moments, but it is unlikely to ever become anything other than a movie curiosity.

About The Author

Simon Fitzjohn

Simon is a journalism tutor in London, who also just happens to be a movie fanatic, with a craving for the darker side of cinema. He has written two books, one on the horror films of director Bob Clark (2014) and the other on the history of the character Norman Bates (2015). His third book, on the work of British exploitation director Pete Walker, is due in 2017.