Monday, July 9, 2012

Ernest Bognine - A Great Bad Guy

Ernest Borgnine was made to play the villain, with a natural physique and sneer for such parts. Tough, burly, and easily threatening, you wouldn't want to run into him angry in a dark alley. Just ask Monty Clift. Ernie had decent range as an actor though and handled plenty of good guy roles too; even being sweat and gentle, such as his Oscar-winning performance as Marty. But I will always think of him as perfect as a cold, menacing heavy. 

Thanks for many years of great entertainment, Ernie. And rest in peace. We will miss you.

Here are my favorite roles in which you played nasty characters.

1. From Here to Eternity

Never more dangerous than as Sergeant "Fatso" Judson. He ran the stockade and literally beat the hell out of light-weight Frank Sinatra. Smart enough not to take on Burt Lancaster with a broken bottle, the knife fight in that dark alley with Clift left him mortally wounded and bleeding on the discarded cabbage.

2. Johnny Guitar

One of the Dancin' Kid's gang. Johnny Guitar (Sterling Hayden) didn't take too kindly to your threat: "A man who can't hold on to a glass should drink like a baby from a bottle. Open your mouth guitar man, and I'll feed ya." Borgnine starts the fight with a sucker punch but gets the worst of it.

3. Bad Day at Black Rock

As lap dog for another movie baddie, Robert Ryan, he hadn't learned anything about being a bully. Here he wouldn't let poor one-armed Spencer Tracy enjoy a bowl of soup. In a classic fight he forgets to watch out for karate chops and a screen door.

4. Ice Station Zebra

A dirty rotten Russian spy who kills Jim Brown and tries to sabotage one of our Navy subs. His accent left something to be desired but not his evil intent.

5. Emperor of the North

Shack is a sadistic railway conductor who hates hobos who try to ride without a ticket. He wields a mean sledge hammer. Lee Marvin challenges him for supremacy of the rails and after a bloody fight, Ernie gets tossed overboard.


  1. Few scenes are more satisfying than when One-armed Macreedy mops the floor with Trimble in "Bad Day at Black Rock".

  2. Yes, CW. That's great scene and my favorite from that film. Borgnine could certainly take a great fall and that screen door didn't stand a chance.