A smiling, terrifying villain in From Here to Eternity, Borgnine savors the chance to play something called “Fatso.” He draws sustenance from the obesity, like a sperm whale in the North Atlantic. It’s my favorite of his performances after The Wild Bunch, in which he’s a bug-eyed, very human confidante to William Holden. I haven’t seen Marty in years but I recoiled from its overdetermined Paddy Chayevsky-scripted evocation of “ethnic” life. Bug-eyed and very human also describe his work — that’s all it was — in The Adventurers, The Poseidon Adventure, TV shows, more movies, stretching into infinity. I don’t think he was a great actor but this guy was up for anything. I mean, he submitted to the hot dog gag in BASEketball.
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