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The Tijuana Story

The Tijuana Story(1957)

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In Tijuana, Mexico, in Apr 1956, schoolteacher Alberto Rodriguez stumbles into the office of El Sol newspaper, asking to see the paper's crusading editor, Manuel Acosta Mesa. Alberto has been badly beaten by the local crime syndicate for telling the police that syndicate employee Miguel Fuentes was selling drugs on school grounds. After Alberto collapses and is rushed to the hospital, Manuel goes to confront Peron Diaz, the local crime lord who operates out of a nightclub fronted by American Eddie March. When Manuel demands that Peron pay Alberto's hospital bill, the crime lord's thugs attack him. Eddie, his conscience shaken, helps the injured Manuel out of the club. To silence Manuel, Peron approaches Reuben Galindo, the owner of ^El Sol , and offers to launch a lucrative ad campaign in the paper if Manuel will tone down his editorials. After Galindo informs Peron that Manuel's contract allows him complete editorial control, Peron makes a sinister threat against Galindo's family. Soon after, a group of American teenage boys comes to Tijuana looking for a good time. When Mitch, one of the boys, sees Linda Alvarez, the young woman who works as Manuel's secretary, waiting for her bus, he makes a pass at her. Insulted by Mitch's presumption that everyone in Mexico is for sale, Linda slaps him. Later, at Eddie's club, one of the bar girls lures Mitch into buying some marijuana. Eddie, upset that drugs are being sold at his club, protests to Peron's thugs, but they ignore him. At home that night, Eddie begins to reevaluate his business relationship with Peron and confides to his pregnant wife Liz that he needs the gangster's financial backing. Galindo, fearful for his family's well-being, pleads with Manuel to leave Peron alone. At Galindo's request, Manuel tones down his editorials, but when word comes that Alberto has died from his injuries, Manuel begins to question his decision. Soon after, Mitch returns to Tijuana to apologize to Linda and the two begin to date. While at the beach one day, Mitch gives Linda a bracelet owned by his deceased mother. The police, patrolling the shore, notice a dented fender on Mitch's car and stop to question him. When they find marijuana ashes in his ashtray, they inform Mitch that he is under arrest. Terrified at spending time in a Mexican jail, Mitch runs into the surf to elude them. Linda, concerned about Mitch's welfare, calls Manuel for help. When Mitch's drowned body washes up on some rocks, Manuel blames the syndicate for his and Alberto's deaths and vows to bring down Peron and his men. After Galindo buys out his contract at El Sol , Manuel uses the money to fund El Imparcial , a paper dedicated to reform, and appoints his son Enrique as co-editor. When the syndicate uses violence to intimidate the paper's advertisers, the California papers rally behind Manuel. California's crime syndicate, fearing that it may be the next target for reform, orders Peron to kill Manuel. Reasoning that no one would suspect a jailed man of murder, Peron hires Miguel, who has been jailed for selling drugs, to do the job, and bribes Miguel's guard to release him for twenty-four hours. Peron's plans go awry, however, when Miguel, craving marijuana, breaks into the club and Eddie deduces that he has been hired to kill Manuel. To prevent Eddie from going to the police, Peron insists that he accompany him to a jai alai game that evening. At the game, Eddie excuses himself to call his wife and then sneaks out to warn Manuel. When he is unable to locate the editor, Eddie notifies the police, who arrive just in time to capture Miguel and save Manuel's life. Eddie is spotted leaving by one of Peron's thugs, who reports to his boss that Eddie has betrayed them. Aware of the peril, Eddie and Liz speed toward the border, with Peron's thugs in pursuit. After Peron and his thugs force Eddie at gunpoint to pull over, Eddie tackles the criminals, sending one of the thug's pistol flying into the brush. As Peron and his men beat Eddie, Liz retrieves the weapon and orders Peron to leave. Vowing to tell Manuel all that he knows about the syndicate, Eddie returns to Tijuana with Liz. In the next issue of El Imparcial , Manuel reports that he has a complete list of syndicate members and will deliver it to the Legislative Hearing on Crime in Mexicali. Before he can testify, however, Manuel is slain while standing on his own front porch. At Manuel's funeral, Galindo rallies the mourners to rise against the syndicate and clean up Tijuana. In the next issue of El Imparcial , Enrique issues a call for reform.