Tag: ernest borgnine

MOVIE REVIEW| Bad Day at Black Rock (1955)

In a nutshell, Bored & Dangerous says: “A compelling story, great acting, high drama, thrilling tension and a big payoff.”

Bad 1

“They’re gonna kill you with no hard feelings.”

The top three highest grossing movies of last year were Captain America: Civil War, Finding Dory and Zootopia.  Many film purists might find it disheartening that only one of the three was based on a totally new property, but I’m troubled by a different trend of modern movie making.  While Finding Dory clocks in at an economical 97 minutes, Captain America and Zootopia will respectively take up 147 and 108 minutes of your life.  Of the rest of the movies that round out the top 10, only one is under 100 minutes.  And that one is The Secret Life of Pets, so I’m sure even its scant 87 minutes feel like a lot longer.

What I’m getting at is, most moves over 90 minutes don’t need to be.  Hardly any movie needs to break the two hour barrier.  But bigger budgets and bigger spectacles mean we are increasingly subjected to bigger ass aches as we are trapped in cinema seats for ever increasing amounts of time per movie.  But I have proof that you don’t always need a lot of time to fit in a lot of awesome.  You can have a compelling story, great acting, high drama, thrilling tension and a big payoff.  And you can have it all in 81 minutes, including credits, with Bad Day at Back Rock. (more…)

MOVIE REVIEW | Marty (1955)

In a nutshell, Bored & Dangerous says: “Screenwriter Paddy Cheyefsky said that with Marty, he wanted to make, ‘the most ordinary love story in the world.’  The fact that he accomplished that is what makes Marty so extraordinary.”

Marty 1
“See, dogs like us, we ain’t such dogs as we think we are.”

A romantic drama isn’t the kind of movie I seek out often.  A 70 year old romantic drama when acting styles were more on the hammy, overtly theatrical side really isn’t the kind of movie I seek out often.  But when a movie wins Best Picture and Best Screenplay at the Oscars, and becomes the first American movie to win the Palme d’or at Cannes, I can look past the negative preconceptions of its genre and era.  Which is good, because if I didn’t, I would have missed the amazing movie that is Marty.

Marty (Ernest Borgnine) is a 34 year old butcher in the Bronx.  He spends his Saturday morning serving customers who alternate between buying meat and haranguing him for being a bachelor while his half dozen younger siblings are all married off and building families.  A quick catch up with his friend Angie (Joe Mantell) reveals the story of their lives, each Saturday night, these two aging bachelors try their luck with women, and each Saturday night they lose. (more…)

MOVIE REVIEW | ***AFI 100*** #79. The Wild Bunch (1969)

“The American Film Institute’s list of the 100 Greatest Movies was selected by AFI’s blue-ribbon panel of more than 1,500 leaders of the American movie community to commemorate 100 Years of Movies”. Every weekend(ish) during 2015, I’ll review two(ish), counting them down from 100 to 1.
Wild Bunch
“When you side with a man, you stay with him! And if you can’t do that, you’re like some animal, you’re finished.”

Like Bonnie and Clyde, The Wild Bunch is a movie I knew by reputation for years before I ever got around to actually watching it. And like Bonnie and Clyde, that reputation was 100% based on violence. These are two movies that churned stomachs and angered censors on release. But since they came out in the 60s, violence has been done to such an extreme in so many movies since, it’s always a risk that a move like The Wild Bunch won’t be as shocking or affecting by modern standards. Then I remembered that The Wild Bunch was directed by Sam Peckinpah, possibly the most stereotypical manly, alpha male, whiskey swilling director of all time, and I was immediately reassured that The Wild Bunch would still pack a punch.

It’s 1916 and Pike Bishop (William Holden) along the titular bunch ride into a small town, planning to rob the local railway office and make off with that one last big score that will set them all up for life. The only problem is, it’s a setup by former Wild Bunch member, now coerced lawman helper, Deke Thornton (Robert Ryan). After a lot of gunfire and more than a few casualties, Pike and his men escape with what they think is a fortune in silver, but turns out to be worthless metal washers.

Laying low in Mexico, the bunch, including Dutch (Ernest Borgnine), Lyle (Warren Oates) and Angel (Jaime Sanchez) head for Angel’s home village. After an indiscretion involving the local, corrupt Generalissimo, Pike bargains for his man’s life by offering to stage an elaborate train robbery to help the General’s war effort. All the while, Deke and his militia are hot on the bunch’s trail.

The bullets fly within the first five minutes of The Wild Bunch kicking off, and they rarely stop. As much as this is a neo western, at the beginning of a total new wave of American cinema that was the 70s, it still has its foundations deeply in classic Western mythos and genre rules. Peckinpah just heightens them and pushes them to new extremes. The violence is visceral and relentless, but it’s not what makes this movie so effective.

It’s the men at the centre of this violence. When Pike and Deke have a camp fire discussion about life, regrets and what drives them to be the ruthless men they are, this one short exchange is enough that you totally believe everything they do from this moment on. You probably won’t agree with their actions and motivations, but you at least understand them.

The characters of Pike and Deke share almost no screen time together, but those few, short moments are more than enough to completely fill in their history. They also let you know exactly how hard it is for Deke to carry out his current assignment, and how hard it is for Pike to view is former friend as a current enemy.

The violence might be what put The Wild Bunch on the map, but with decades of hindsight and the evolution of film violence since, it’s good that the violence is now kind of just a footnote to modern movie watching eyes. While it might have been shocking and distracting in 1969, now, it’s just one great part of telling a great story.

The Wild Bunch
Directed By – Sam Peckinpah
Written By – Walon Green, Sam Peckinpah

Academy Awards
Best Original Screenplay (Peckinpah & Green nominated, lost to William Goldman for Butch Cassidy & the Sundance Kid)

MOVIE REVIEW | Jubal (1956)

Westerns have a few standout names that I always associate with the genre.  John Wayne, John Ford, Sam Pekinpah, James Stewart.  I’d say every one I’ve seen that was made before the 80s has at least one of those names attached to it.  Which makes it even better when I find a great one that I’ve never heard of, and one that doesn’t include any of those usual suspects.  Which is what made Jubal such a good surprise.

Jubal Troop (Glenn Ford) is found half dead on the side of the road and taken to a nearby ranch where he’s fed, sheltered and given work by the owner, Earnest Borgnine’s Shep Horgan.  Shep thinks Jube is great, Shep’s trophy wife Mae, played by Valerie French, likes him even more. And jealous farmhand Pinky (Rod Steiger), injects himself as Jubal’s antagonist from the get go.  Also, Charles Bronson shows up about halfway through to play Reb, the coolest cowboy you ever did see.

Jubal is running from something, but it’s immediately clear to Shep (and the audience) that whatever he’s running from wasn’t his fault and that he’s a genuine, good guy.  Which is why it’s also immediately clear that happy endings will be very few and far between when the credits roll.

There’s something about Westerns that makes me feel like I missed out by being born in the late 20th century.  I know it’s all Hollywood fiction, but all that horse breakin’, gun slinging’ and real man bein’ makes the world today seem so soft and boring and easy.  I know I wouldn’t last five minutes in that world, but Hollywood sure knew how to romanticise with the Westerns of the 40s and 50s.

Like Sean Connery and Robert Duvall, Earnest Borgnine is one of those dudes who must have born middle aged.  No matter how old a movie is, if one of those three is in it, they’re already old enough to have kids in college from their first marriage, while trying to avoid having a baby with their new, young, trophy wife.  I’m sure Borgnine came out of the womb with a five o’clock shadow and a cigar in his mouth, while placing a drink order with the midwife.

Jubal is a great example of the Western genre of that time.  The strong, silent type hero, up against the insecure, loud braggart bad guy.  A romantic angle shoehorned in there to keep the studio happy, while never getting in the way.  The gun shots are kept to a minimum, so when the bullets do fly, it actually means something.  And a simple story about simple people living and dying by a simple code.  I haven’t seen enough classic Westerns, but I feel like Jubal fills a substantial hole in that movie watching weak spot.

Jubal – Watch it streaming for free HERE
Directed By – Delmer Daves
Written By – Russell S Hughes, Delmer Daves