Ernest Goes to Texas

Borgnine: The word itself is barrel-chested, glaring, grotesque. And has a name ever been so suggestive of a face? Known for cinematic classics like From Here to Eternity and Marty (for which he won an Academy award in 1955), Ernest Borgnine last worked in Texas in the mid-fifties, when he came to Brackettville to make The Last Command . But this summer he returned with Abilene, a film shot primarily in the Panhandle, including the towns of Pampa and Dozier. Written and directed by native Texan Joe Camp III, it stars the 81-year-old as Hotis Brown, an Army veteran who learns of his brother’s stroke and begins an emotional journey into the past. It’s also a physical journey: Borgnine’s character travels the hundred miles to his hometown on the back of a riding lawn mower. Those scenes were no problem for the actor, who says he plans to drive his motor home through West Texas and then back to Los Angeles once the movie wraps (“I love to see the country, man!”). What will he remember about his time in the Panhandle? “I’ve been through Texas a number of times, even on old Route 66,” he says. “But I’ll say one thing: Your secondary roads are better than the main roads we have in L.A. It’s the damnedest thing I’ve ever seen!”

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