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Robert D. Webb
Bernie Goldsmith, a long-time civilian employee of the U.S. Navy is suspended as a security risk when investigators discover he had communist affiliations in his youth. Snubbed by former friends and harassed by others in the community, Goldsmith hires a lawyer to fight the charges and clear his good name. Written by
This entry from 20th Century Fox feels like a low-budget film; no action footage, no epic scenery; just a lot of indoor dialogue. But make no mistake, this is a remarkable film, primarily thanks to the spectacular performance of the great Ernest Borgnine.
It seems to me that in most of his movies, Borgnine simply plays himself: a boisterous and bawdy character, sometimes benign, sometimes evil (see "A Bad Day at Blackrock"). But here, perhaps even more so than in "Marty", Mr. Borgnine gets a chance to play something different: a soft-spoken, kind-hearted man, who never fails to be conscious of how anything he says and does affects those around him. He is sensitive and bewildered, due to the accusations directed at him, and he plays his part so wonderfully well that you might actually forget who the actor is - I can't think of a better way to compliment this gentle bear of a man.
The supporting cast are fine throughout. Some of the sentimentality sometimes threatened to become maudlin, but, thanks to Borgnine's strength as an actor, it never takes over the film.
Particularly curious is the young actor Warren Berlinger, playing Borgnine's son Harry. We are left to wonder how Borgnine could have a son with a heavy Brooklyn accent when the rest of the family is essentially accent-free. But no matter, he too is appealing.
Ray Milland plays Borgnine's lawyer hard and well, though he looks a little puffy around the left cheek and jowl. The scene early on when he tests Borgnone's loyalty by berating him is particularly powerful.
The movie, though longish at 88 minutes, actually flies by, as you wonder desperately how Borgnine will fare in the end. A strongly recommended movie.
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