Sunday, January 27, 2013

Borgnine in Progress

Borgnine Toothpick Trophy, greenware, 8 cm

The other day I watched The Devil's Rain. I had not seen the film since it was in the cinemas, where I saw it as a boy when it came out in 1975. This ultimate of cult films (a B-movie both about a cult, and having a cult following), made an indelible impression on me during my single viewing of it, from the opening credits of Hieronymus Bosch details and infernal groans, to the ghastly and colorful finale.

The film is panned almost universally by critics and their laity alike. Yet it has an appealing cast: William Shatner (when he was a jobber, a journeyman wandering in the wilderness between the original Star Trek and the later films.) John Travolta, humorously, is touted in later marketing of the film, though at the time he was unknown, playing a mute, cameo-like role. And of course the jobbing actor of all time, Ernest Borgnine, makes the film, playing the leader of a Satanic cult, as well as the horned one himself, sporting makeup that would obliterate the visage of a lesser actor.  Borgnine is always great. So versatile and pliable was he, able to play both sides of the spectrum, from saintly and humane, to the maniacal and deranged. 

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