Ernest Borgnine Remembered
July 4–September 7
Beloved character actor Ernest Borgnine (1917–2012) racked up more than 200 screen credits in a career that spanned seven decades, alternating menacing "heavy" roles with good-natured sidekicks, and even the occasional, and very affecting, romantic lead, as in his Oscar-winning turn as Marty Piletti in 1955's MARTY, which won both the Best Picture Oscar and the Cannes Film Festival's Palme d'Or that year. A look back over Borgnine's long career reveals an impressive filmography, laden with iconic, influential and enduring films from the likes of Fred Zinneman, Delmer Daves, Nicholas Ray, Richard Fleischer, John Sturges, Richard Brooks, Robert Aldrich, Sam Peckinpah and John Carpenter. A great testament to a great screen presence.
AFI Member passes accepted.
FROM HERE TO ETERNITY
Fred Zinnemann's celebrated wartime melodrama features one of Hollywood's most iconic images—swimsuit-clad lovers Burt Lancaster and Deborah Kerr, adulterously embracing on a Hawaiian beach as the surf laps around them. In the days leading up to the December 7 attack on Pearl Harbor, private dramas and grudges hold sway over the restless army community: independent-minded private Montgomery Clift resists his captain’s overtures to box, preferring romance with club hostess Donna Reed; sergeant Burt Lancaster silently seethes under the command of incompetent officers, and, not-so coincidentally, takes up with officer's wife Deborah Kerr; and big-mouthed private Frank Sinatra runs afoul of sadistic sergeant Ernest Borgnine. Nominated for 13 Academy Awards, winning Best Picture, Best Director, Best Supporting Actor for Sinatra and Best Supporting Actress for Reed.
DIR Fred Zinnemann; SCR Daniel Taradash, from the novel by James Jones; PROD Buddy Adler. US, 1953, b&w, 118 min, 35mm. NOT RATED
Thu, Jul 4, 11:00 a.m.; Sun, Jul 7, 11:00 a.m.; Mon, Jul 8, 4:30;
Tue, Jul 9, 7:20
Originally a teleplay by Paddy Chayefsky, this film was nominated for eight Academy Awards (winning for Best Picture) and won the Palme d'Or at Cannes—still the only film to win both prestigious prizes. "I've been looking for a girl every Saturday night of my life," says lovelorn Bronx butcher Marty (Ernest Borgnine). Still living with his mother and resigned to a life of loneliness, he is over the moon when he meets shy schoolteacher Betsy Blair, who reciprocates his feelings. However, to Marty's surprise, his mother dislikes the girl and his friends put her down–leading him to also question his newfound love.
DIR Delbert Mann; SCR Paddy Chayefsky; PROD Harold Hecht. US, 1955, b&w, 94 min, 35mm. NOT RATED
Sat, Jul 6, 11:05 a.m.; Tue, Jul 9, 5:20; Wed, Jul 10, 5:20; Thu, Jul 11, 5:20
Burt Lancaster and Gary Cooper are rival soldiers of fortune south of the border, looking to cash in on the Mexican Revolution by selling their services to the highest bidder. But they'll have to join forces if they want to claim a big payday, escorting the Countess Duvarre (Denise Darcel) cross-country to Vera Cruz on the Gulf coast. When her armed escort's various hired guns—including Ernest Borgnine, Charles Bronson and Jack Elam—discover that the countess is transporting $3M in gold earmarked for the French army, chivalry goes out the window and it's every man for himself. Shot on location in Mexico, the film's setting and then-shocking cynicism were tremendous influences on the Italian and Spanish filmmakers who would soon put their own distinctive spin on the Western genre.
DIR Robert Aldrich; SCR Roland Kibbee, James Webb; PROD James Hill. US, 1954, color, 94 min, 35mm. NOT RATED
Fri, Jul 12, 2:45; Mon, Jul 15, 5:00; Thu, Jul 18, 7:00
Stickup men J. Carrol Naish, Lee Marvin and Stephen McNally pose as traveling salesmen to case a bank in a small Arizona mining town. Insinuating themselves into the community for full advantage makes their betrayal all the more bitter once their motives are revealed. Ernest Borgnine is memorable as a pitchfork-wielding Amish farmer, a peace-loving man who will nonetheless stop at nothing to protect his family from the outlaws. Impressively lensed in widescreen Technicolor, the film was controversial upon release for its then-shocking violence.
DIR Richard Fleischer; SCR Sydney Boehm, from the novel by William L. Heath; PROD Buddy Adler. US, 1955, color, 90 min, 16mm. NOT RATED
BAD DAY AT BLACK ROCK
Sat, Jul 13, 11:00 a.m.; Tue, Jul 16, 5:00; Wed, Jul 17, 3:15;
Thu, Jul 18, 3:10
Spencer Tracy is a one-armed WWII veteran who arrives at a small desert outpost called Black Rock hoping to find a Japanese farmer named Komoko. But the locals (a terrific supporting cast including Lee Marvin, Robert Ryan, Ernest Borgnine and Anne Francis) are anything but welcoming in the face of Tracy’s prying, and soon he’s subject to violent threats and harassment. One of the first films to address the wartime outrages against Japanese-Americans, this tough-minded drama earned Oscar nominations for Best Actor (Tracy), Director and Screenplay.
DIR John Sturges; SCR Millard Kaufman, from a story by Howard Breslin; PROD Dore Schary. US, 1955, color, 81 min, 35mm. NOT RATED
THE CATERED AFFAIR
Sun, Jul 14, 11:05 a.m.; Mon, Jul 15, 3:15; Tue, Jul 16, 3:15;
Wed, Jul 17, 5:15; Thu, Jul 18, 5:15
Bette Davis is the dowdy working-class housewife to Bronx cabdriver Ernest Borgnine in this witty kitchen sink melodrama. When their daughter (Debbie Reynolds) announces her engagement to a much wealthier man, Davis insists on a properly catered affair, even though it's way beyond their means. Tensions rise when the newlyweds insist they would rather elope and avoid the whole fiasco. Gore Vidal's snappy screenplay and Richard Brooks' smart direction elevate what might have been merely soap opera into a pointed indictment of 1950s materialism and classism.
DIR Richard Brooks; SCR Gore Vidal, from the teleplay by Paddy Chayefsky; PROD Sam Zimbalist. US, 1956, b&w, 92 min, 35mm. NOT RATED
Restored 35mm Print!
Fri, Jul 19, 3:00; Sun, Jul 21, 11:15 a.m.; Mon, Jul 22, 5:15;
Wed, Jul 24, 5:15
Drifter Jubal Troop (Glenn Ford) stumbles into gainful employment with kindly rancher Shep (Ernest Borgnine), only to incur the jealous wrath of the egomaniacal, Iago-esque ranch foreman Pinky (Rod Steiger) and the unwanted attentions of his boss's wife, Mae (Valerie French). Delmer Daves' psychologically acute Western drama, set in a mountain valley of the majestic Grand Tetons, with cinematography by Charles Lawton, Jr. (THE LADY FROM SHANGHAI, 3:10 TO YUMA) has been restored to its ravishing pictorial glory.
DIR/SCR Delmer Daves; SCR Russell S. Hughes, from the novel "Jubal Troop" by Paul I. Wellman; PROD William Fadiman. US, 1956, 100 min, 35mm. NOT RATED
Fri, Jul 19, 5:00; Sun, Jul 21, 3:30; Mon, Jul 22, 7:15
Filmed on location in Norway by famed cinematographer Jack Cardiff (THE RED SHOES, BLACK NARCISSUS), this big-screen epic reteamed filmmaker Richard Fleischer with Kirk Douglas after their previous hit 20,000 LEAGUES UNDER THE SEA. Einar (Douglas) and Eric (Tony Curtis) are half-brothers, fighting to seize the throne of Northumbria and the hand of its princess, Morgana (Janet Leigh). Ernest Borgnine is their war-loving father, Ragnar. Orson Welles narrates. Featuring intense scenes of revelry, the New York Times called the film, "the best advertisement for beer-drinking since the breweries put wrestling on TV."
DIR Richard Fleischer; SCR Calder Willingham, Dale Wasserman, from the novel "The Viking" by Edison Marshall; PROD Jerry Bresler. US, 1958, color, 116 min, 35mm. NOT RATED
THE FLIGHT OF THE PHOENIX
Sat, Jul 20, 11:00 a.m.; Wed, Jul 24, 7:15
After their plane crash lands in the Sahara en route to Benghazi, Libya, it falls to pilot Jimmy Stewart and navigator Richard Attenborough to lead the motley crew of surviving passengers—soldiers, engineers and various vagabond oilmen—in building a single-engine plane out of the salvageable wreckage if they are to have any hope of escaping certain death in the desert. Featuring a top-notch supporting cast, including Peter Finch, Hardy Krüger, Ian Bannen, Dan Duryea, George Kennedy and Ernest Borgnine, the film is notable for its stunning flying sequences (sadly, it's the final film of Paul Mantz, a regular Howard Hawks collaborator and perhaps the greatest stunt flier in motion picture history, who was killed in a crash on the final day of location shooting).
DIR/PROD Robert Aldrich; SCR Lukas Heller, from the novel by Trevor Dudley Smith. US, 1965, color, 142 min, DCP. NOT RATED
THE DIRTY DOZEN
Sat, Jul 27, 11:00 a.m.; Sun, Jul 28, 11:00 a.m.; Tue, Jul 30, 7:00
All shows canceled; we regret the inconvenience. For refunds, please call 301.495.6720 M-F during business hours.
The "dirty dozen" are a group of military misfits and criminals given a reprieve from the brig to carry out an especially dangerous assignment. Their leader is a bully whose instructions are simple and direct: "March, or I'll beat your brains out." The objective is a brothel hosting high-ranking German officers, and the operative command is "anything goes." Fast, funny, cruel and shocking, the film is an undeniably entertaining World War II film, proto-Tarantino in its approach to the subject matter. Featuring an all-star cast of tough guys and character actors, including Lee Marvin, Ernest Borgnine, Charles Bronson, Robert Ryan, John Cassavetes, Jim Brown, George Kennedy, Ralph Meeker, Telly Savalas and Donald Sutherland.
DIR Robert Aldrich; SCR Nunnally Johnson, Lukas Heller, from the novel by E. M. Nathanson; PROD Kenneth Hyman. UK/US, 1967, color, 150 min, 35mm. NOT RATED
THE WILD BUNCH
Fri, Aug 2, 5:15; Sat, Aug 3, 1:30; Wed, Aug 7, 6:45
With the West mostly won, a group of aging outlaws led by Pike Bishop (William Holden) finds themselves at odds with the America of 1913. Recognizing that their time is up, their world drawing to a close, they plan one last big score before riding off into the sunset. But Pike’s former partner Deke (Robert Ryan) is now a bounty hunter for the railroad, and will stop at nothing to foil Pike’s plan and collect the reward on his head. Filmmaker Sam Peckinpah's controversial, fetishistic violence–copious blood spurts and slow-motion bullet riddling–made headlines upon release and has proven to be hugely influential over time. The outstanding ensemble cast includes Ernest Borgnine, Ben Johnson, Warren Oates, Strother Martin, L. Q. Jones, Albert Dekker and Bo Hopkins.
DIR/SCR Sam Peckinpah; SCR Walon Green; PROD Phil Feldman. US, 1969, color, 145 min, 35mm. RATED R
ICE STATION ZEBRA
Fri, Aug 9, 5:15; Sat, Aug 10, 11:00 a.m.; Sun, Aug 11, 11:00 a.m.;
Tue, Aug 13, 7:15
When a Soviet satellite malfunctions and crashes in the Arctic circle, Commander James Ferraday (Rock Hudson) is charged with stealthily piloting the submarine USS Triggerfish beneath the sea ice and capturing the top-secret material that lies within the dormant satellite. On board are a UK intelligence agent (Patrick McGoohan), a Russian deserter (Ernest Borgnine) and a U.S. marine (Jim Brown), and as tensions run high during the mission, paranoia preys upon the men’s minds. This coldest of Cold War thrillers was a smash hit in its day, a professed favorite of everyone from John Carpenter to Howard Hughes, who reportedly watched the film 150 times.
DIR John Sturges; SCR Douglas Heyes, Harry Julian Fink, from the novel by Alistair MacLean; PROD Martin Ransohoff. US, 1968, color, 148 min, 35mm. RATED G
EMPEROR OF THE NORTH
Fri, Aug 16, 5:15; Sun, Aug 18, 11:00 a.m.; Mon, Aug 19, 6:30
"1933. The height of the Great Depression. Hoboes roamed the land; riding the rails in a desperate search for jobs. Spurned by society, unwanted and homeless, they became a breed apart. Nomads who scorned the law and enforced their own. Dedicated to their destruction was the Railroad Man who stood between them and their only source of survival –The Trains."–opening titles, Robert Aldrich’s THE EMPEROR OF THE NORTH.
Lee Marvin is "A No. 1," a proudly defiant Depression-era hobo who lives by his wits. Ernest Borgnine is roughhewn railroad bull Shack, who takes sadistic glee in his brutal work—forcibly ejecting hoboes from his train, with nary a regard for life nor limb. Fasten your seat belts, it's going to be a bumpy night...
DIR Robert Aldrich; SCR Christopher Knopf, from the short story by Jack London; PROD Stan Hough. US, 1973, color, 118 min, 35mm. RATED PG
ESCAPE FROM NEW YORK
Fri, Aug 23, 5:15; Tue, Aug 27, 7:10
New York, 1997 (as imagined in 1981): Manhattan is an island prison with no way out, where criminals and luckless unfortunates live in borderline anarchy. After Air Force One crash lands in the former financial district, the President (Donald Pleasance) is taken hostage by gang lord The Duke (Isaac Hayes). Ex-Special Forces commando and convicted bank robber Snake Plissken (Kurt Russell, in iconic eye patch) is offered the chance to win his freedom if he can rescue the President. John Carpenter’s visionary dystopian adventure casts a long shadow over the scads of high-concept, special effects-driven blockbusters that have come since, which lack the panache of his scrappy romp. With Ernest Borgnine, Lee Van Cleef, Harry Dean Stanton, Adrienne Barbeau and Season Hubley.
DIR/SCR John Carpenter; SCR Nick Castle; PROD Larry J. Franco, Debra Hill. US/UK, 1981, color, 99 min, DCP. RATED R
ERNEST BORGNINE ON THE BUS
In person: filmmaker Jeff Krulik
Fri, Aug 30, 5:00, 11:45; Sat, Aug 31, 11:45; Sun, Sep 1, 10:20;
Mon, Sep 2, 1:00
In 1995, Ernest Borgnine and his son Cris set out to drive themselves across the Midwest aboard their 40-foot bus (affectionately named The Sunbum). Originally envisioned as a proto-reality show by local filmmaker Jeff Krulik (HEAVY METAL PARKING LOT), it eventually morphed into this beloved documentary. A true testament to Borgnine's "nicest guy in Hollywood" rep, the film features Ernie offhandedly sharing showbiz tales from nearly five decades’ worth of work, and enthusiastically meeting and mingling with Midwesterners. Never released on DVD, the film makes a fitting and affecting tribute to Borgnine, seen here in the role he was literally born to play.
DIR Jeff Krulik. US, 1997, color, 45 min. NOT RATED
Sat, Sep 7, 5:30
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