Director: Robert M. Young
Year Released: 1977
Not satisfied with the pittance he makes in his native Mexico, Roberto (Domingo Ambriz) leaves his wife and child and sneaks into the United States to work, where he has to constantly worry about the Border Patrol and the police and can't speak any English (except for three words), but eventually he's helped out by a waitress named Sharon (Linda Gillen) who lets him crash at her place. For a debut film, this shows a lot of self-confidence: Young employs a cinéma vérité-type approach with handheld cameras and uses dusty and run-down locations so it can easily pass off as a documentary, and Roberto is likeable enough that the audience should want him to succeed. Some sources (including the Internet Movie Database) say that the title translates to The Illegal, which I'm told isn't correct: it's actually more like Tightrope Walker, which emphasizes the constant balancing act he must go through to avoid getting caught due to his "status" as a non-citizen. For many people - even those legally born here - this might not be the Promised Land after all....