Collection - The Rio Grande Border Filmography Project

In conjunction with the Rio Grande Institute, TAMI presents the first stage towards an online list and chronicle of feature films depicting the US-Mexico frontier. This project lays the groundwork for further work on identifying, preserving and creating greater access to moving images dealing with the unique “borderland” the U.S. and Mexico share along their Rio Grande / Rio Bravo river boundary. The filmography supplements and supports the Rio Grande Border Project - a three-part multi-media education effort.

The “border” has provided a rich resource for writers and filmmakers since the U.S.-Mexico War concluded with the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo and left the Rio Grande/Rio Bravo as the frontier dividing the U.S. and Mexico. Initial research has uncovered several hundred film titles with direct reference to the Rio Grande/Rio Bravo, most in English or Spanish, some in German, French or Italian and even a few in Chinese and Russian. Beginning with Los Canyones del Rio Grande in 1897, productions include the silent film, Romance of the Rio Grande in 1911, the epic 1950 John Wayne film, Rio Grande, and John Sayles's complex Lone Star in 1996.

Tito Guizar, Roy Rogers, Jorge Negrete, Tex Ritter, Pedro Infante and Hopalong Cassidy rode and sometimes sang in stereotypical scenes set on the Rio Grande. Romantic adventures along the Rio Grande border were the backbone of many Gene Autry films, adorned with ballads and waltzes from “south of the border.” Grim images of reality along a sometimes-violent border were evoked in the first of Robert Rodriguez’s trilogy, El Mariachi, in Peckinpah’s Wild Bunch, Edward R. Murrow’s "Harvest of Shame" for CBS, and 2006’s PBS documentary on the murdered women of Juarez. A current generation of filmmakers is seeking to capture and convey what this border and its culture means in the 21st Century.

This project was made possible in part by a grant from Humanities Texas, the state partner of the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Go to the Rio Grande Border Filmography