(Fun Fact: To win that Oscar, Borgnine beat a field of competitors that included no less than James Cagney, Charlie Chaplin, Frank Sinatra, and Spencer Tracy. An impressive - and well deserved - feat.)
The film, set in 1933 and the height of the Great Depression, features Borgnine as a sadistic train conductor, known only as "Shack" to both his colleagues and the hobos who fear him. No punches are pulled in creating this character, as the script calls for Borgnine to brutally beat a man with a large railroad hammer before the opening credits make their way to the screen. Several of the down-on-their-luck types who populate the film speak of Shack as a mythical villain. One of the characters even opines with fear that "Shack'd rather kill a man than give him a free ride", as if the character is completely devoid of a soul.
|R.I.P, Ernest Borgnine. Thank you for the memories, and know that I - and many others - have found great joy in your works. We will miss you.|