R.I.P. Ernest Borgnine. P.S.: We Didn’t Like Brokeback Mountain Either

America lost one of its greats when Ernest Borgnine passed away on Sunday. Starting in the 1950s, Borgnine appeared in classics like The Flight of the Phoenix, The Dirty Dozen, Ice Station Zebra, The Poseidon Adventure, The Wild Bunch and Escape from New York—not to mention TV shows like McHale’s Navy, Airwolf and SpongeBob SquarePants.

But as much as he’s respected for his body of work, Borgnine upset Hollywood—and the gay community—in 2005 when he said he had no interest in seeing the Oscar-nominated gay-cowboy flick Brokeback Mountain. At the time, he told Entertainment Weekly, “I didn’t see it and I don’t care to see it. I know they say it’s a good picture, but I don’t care to see it,” before adding, “If John Wayne were alive, he’d be rolling over in his grave!”

In the clip above, Borgnine clarifies that he meant he’d just rather watch women then men. Whether he was telling the truth or just trying to extinguish a potential PR disaster, Borginine’s allowed to have his opinion about Brokeback. And, frankly, the movie was pretty overrated, anyway.  (Oh relax, we all know it was.)

But the outcry against his crime was way out of proportion: The L.A. Times suggested he shouldn’t receive a Screen Actors Guild lifetime-achievement award because of it. The Advocate included it in its obit. (Really it’s the only reason the site ran an obit at all.)

Borgnine wasn’t out protesting the movie’s release or making speeches for Prop 8. He just didn’t want to see a movie. Granted, maybe he was ooked out over the idea of Heath Ledger and Jake Gyllenhaal bumping uglies, but the guy was, like, 88 at the time.

We were creeped out over Mila Kunis munching on Natalie Portman in Black Swan, and we’re at least several years younger than Ernie.

Borgnine acted in Hollywood for decades—we’re sure he worked alongside plenty of gay co-stars, directors, screenwriters, stagehands, technicians and makeup artists. It’s how he treated them that matters, not what he thought about some movie.


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  • hamoboy

    “It’s how he treated them that matters,” Yeah, how he treated these hypothetical people, y’know, his treatment that we have no idea about. The defence of him is as stupid as the condemnation.

  • Atlas

    It really wasn’t overrated. Crash is what was overrated. Fucking Queerty idiots.

  • Christopher

    He DIDN’T see it. ..but voted against it for Best Picture anyway. Integrity? Fairness? Honor>

    And it wasn’t ‘overrated.’ It was certainly better than Crash. This was as big a shame as The Color Purple loosing out to Out of Africa. (Well, maybe not. At least we didn’t loose to The Straight Story.)

  • axon

    Well, I liked him AND Brokeback Mountain. There are so many sides to a person, and besides he lived a long life. I doubt you can identify Borgnine and his entire life work with what he felt about a gay movie in his late eighties.

  • The Real Mike in Asheville

    1) Ummm, he won an Oscar for Marty, but I guess that doesn’t warrant being listed in his movies;

    2) …he rather watch women THEN men …? Or, perhaps, he rather watch women THAN men?

    3) Brokeback Mountain, overrated? Kind of a very petty subjective opinion, don’t you think? And, since when is comparing a one’s subjective opinion to another’s an effective argument?


    @Christopher: One doesn’t vote against a nominated film, one votes for their favorite. The pre-Oscar media makes it very clear that only a few eligible Oscar voters watch all the nominated films. I loved Brokeback, but can’t compare it to the winner Crash as I still haven’t seen it.

    @axon: +100%

  • Michael

    The Poseidon Adventure – yes.
    Brokeback Mtn. – no.

  • averaqe person

    Every day I think that you cannot be proven to be more idiotic, and every day I am proven wrong.

  • Daez

    Crash was MUCH better than Brokeback. I have no idea why gay people are so supportive of Brokeback. At its heart, it is not even a gay movie. It is a straight movie. These are two straight men that love each other so much that they still go home to their wives 364 days a year.

    The basic message of Brokeback was: “If you really love each other and respect yourself you’ll remain in the closet and make sure your wives never find out that you are ‘guilty’ of the love that dare not speak its name.”

    That would have been alright for a “gay” movie made in 1960. It was not alright for a “gay” movie made in 2005.

  • Ronn

    @Daez: AMEN!!! My sentiments exactly.Being the film and Oscar buff that I am, I gleefully and playfully rubbed in my fellow gay film buff friends face when Crash won that night- which is exactly what I told them would happen. Was Brokeback good? Of course, but that doesnt mean it was THE best film that year. Crash hands down was the best overall picture. I think the gay community was so awestruck with the fact that a “Hollywood” film with a partially gay theme was a critical and box office success, clouded their judgement when it came to comparison to other films. This was clearly a a sad confirmation of how starved we are as a community to see ourselves on the silver screen.

    Because of Brokeback’s box office success some expected to see more mainstream GLBT films greenlit. Yet here we are 7 years later and not a single mainstream film with a leading GLBT character has been made. Whereas I looong for more mainstream gblt representation in film, I also have to keep it real and be honest – Brokeback was good but not great!

  • Christopher

    @ axon. Sorry, but a vote FOR one is a vote against the others. (simple logic?)

    Don’t care if the Rules let people vote without seeing all the handful of choices. It’s still not Honorable or Fair.

  • Ronn

    @Ronn: Ooops, I forgot about Milk, lol. But still, a far cry from the the number of films expected to be made post-Brokeback!

  • axon

    @Christopher: Christopher – you addressed the wrong person. I didn’t say anything about votes.

  • Gigi

    Brokeback Mountain was over-rated? I don’t often agree with much of what’s written on Queerty. This is yet another one of those times. Why is Borgnine gay news anyway? If I wanted to read bigoted commments about The Gays I’d go to Christian Post.

  • the other Greg

    “We were creeped out over Mila Kunis munching on Natalie Portman in Black Swan, and we’re at least several years younger than Ernie.”

    Eek! Biphobia! Biphobia! Biphobia!

  • SteveC

    I found Brokeback to be well made, well acted and overall a very good film.

    But I don’t understand the love it receives from the gay community.

    It always struck me as a movie made solely for the straight audience.

    (And in time honored Hollywood tradition) it has a tragic end when Jack Twist is murdered for daring to live life more openly outside the closet.)

  • jwrappaport

    Overrated? I beg to differ, Queerty – speak for yourself.

    Likewise, though I agree that recognition for his work should have little to do with his outdated opinions, you’re dead-wrong to suggest that it’s not really a big deal to be homophobic so long as you’re not “protesting the movie’s release or making speeches for Prop. 8.” Sure, he was ancient when he made the comment, but let’s not dress it up or give him a free pass: he, in no uncertain terms, said that he found homosexuality so disgusting that it would repulse even the dead as well as prevent him from seeing a great film.

    If his professional accomplishments should be judged without regard to his personal beliefs and purely on the merits, then his personal beliefs should be judged without regard to his professional accomplishments: he had some pretty odious views and he was no friend of ours, great actor or not. As to whether he treated gays well in his lifetime, I have no idea (and have heard nothing about it). That said, I would think that his statement that he finds homosexuality so repugnant that he can’t even bring himself to watch it fictionalized militates against it and would tend to erase any good feelings between him and the gays.

  • Codswallop

    I’m stunned by the people who are praising Crash. I went into it with an open mind, knowing very little about it, and thought it was (literally) laughably bad! It was like being beaten over the head with Nerf baseball bats marked “important message,” “portentous moment,” and “meaningful dialogue.” David Cronenberg’s Crash was better than Crash!

    Certainly between Crash Brokeback Mountain I thought BBM was the far superior film even though I didn’t love it as much as so many others apparently did. It was well-done and interesting, with some great performances by Michelle Williams and Heath Ledger. (I thought Jake G and Anne H were weaker, particularly in the scenes where they were older.) But it was hard for me to divorce it from the stream of the-homo-dies-at-the-end books like The Front Runner and movies from the 1950s onward.

  • Bill

    Is Dan Avery in 7th grade? The quality of his writing would suggest so. You really have to wonder how someone like this gets hired by a professional blog.

  • Belize


    “Crash was MUCH better than Brokeback.”

    LOL. Based on your comment, it would appear that you don’t even understand Brokeback Mountain. I can’t blame you for liking Crash since it’s “simpler.” LOL.

    “It is a straight movie. These are two straight men that love each other so much that they still go home to their wives 364 days a year.”

    These two straight men fucked a lot of times despite the dangerous stigma surrounding there relationship. Clearly, your understanding of homosexuality is juvenile.

    “The basic message of Brokeback was: “If you really love each other and respect yourself you’ll remain in the closet and make sure your wives never find out that you are ‘guilty’ of the love that dare not speak its name.”

    Imbecile. Had you watched the film, you would know that your comment is simply ignorant. Because if you watched the film, you would know that there were many factors that forbid them to do so like that traumatizing experience Ennis saw when he was a child and his poverty. Plus, it was necessary for him to engage in self-repression to show the weight of his circumstance–to show that despite his upbringing, his environment and everything else that went against his feelings, he pursued Jack Twist in his own way.

    “That would have been alright for a “gay” movie made in 1960. It was not alright for a “gay” movie made in 2005.”

    But was the movie based in 2005? No it was not. Idiot. And even if it was, we live in a time where gay people are still getting beaten up and sometimes killed in the less modern locales of America–which I’m sure is where you came from given your stupidity.

  • Belize

    @Ronn: So basically, Natalie Portman’s scene with Mila Kunis does not suggest that her character is part of the GLBT. Way to go, Oscar buff. LOL.

  • Belize

    @Bill: Considering the simple-mindedness of this site, are you REALLY surprised?

  • Belize

    “We were creeped out over Mila Kunis munching on Natalie Portman in Black Swan, and we’re at least several years younger than Ernie.”

    If you’re trying to be funny or at the very least “witty.” Sorry. You failed. This kind of hypocrisy is really quite hilarious coming from a website the continues to bash other people for showing any hint of disapproval toward members of the LGBT.

  • Mk Ultra

    So he wasn’t okay with movies featuring gay people and we’re saying RIP! why?
    I’m not familiar with him or his work so I don’t care.

  • Ty

    Brokeback was ridiculously overrated. Only masochistic gays who love tragic love stories would like it. I know that many great love stories are tragic, but its telling when the only two mainstream LGBT movies of the past ten years have been a story between two closet-cases that ends in tragedy, and a true story about an openly gay man who gets killed by a madman. If the gay movement was as represented in cinema as our straight counterparts but it doesn’t. Where are our fluffly Julia/Sandra/Reese/Drew love stories with happy endings? We get them, but only in indie cinema where the only people who see them are gay.

    I don’t like tragic stories (to the extent that I’ve proudly not watched Titanic since 1998 and have no intention to see it ever again) and I have no intention to own Brokeback on blu-ray. Like Glee, I think gay people cream over anything remotely gay just because it is gay. It is time we had our cheesy Pretty Woman/While You Were Sleeping type of movie with gay men that have that happy ending.

  • Ronn

    @Belize: ROFL….Really Belize??? NO – Natalie Portman’s scene with Mila Kunis did not suggest that her character was GLB or T. It was a drug induced dream you idiot and from your empty head comment it is apparent that you too were high as a kite when you saw the movie. Keep the needles OUT of your arm girl!!!

  • Paul

    I’m glad I’m not the only one, but I have to agree – “Crash” was by far the better picture of that year. It was controversial and engaging, with some very strong, emotional scenes. It made you think, and racism is something everyone has dealt with at one time or another, whether directly or indirectly.

    “Brokeback Mountain” bored me to tears. It’s a good gay movie – for people who aren’t familiar with gay men who were not averse to seeing a movie (i.e. pretty open minded straight people who don’t know or may not know many gay people) about what it’s like to be gay during that period or, as someone else had said, if you were gay in 1960.

  • Ty

    People who cream over Brokeback Mountain are the gays who love to be pandered to… probably the same people who love Glee.


    dan avery is no longer satisfied being *a* queen and has started to believe he’s THE Queen.
    which is the only possible explanation for his use of the royal “we”…

    well, you don’t speak for me, your majesty.

  • Karl

    Ernest Borgnine…legend.

  • longpastdue

    Wow, nice to know this turned into a crash vs. brokeback argument. I just wanted to say that I saw an interview with Borgnine where he talked about working with Rock Hudson saying basically that everyone knew and no one including himself cared so I think it was a fair statement to say that he just didn’t care to see it.

    Oh, and frankly it was extremely overrated. If I wanted to see two hours of landscape shots with a few dramatic scenes sparsely and sporadically placed in set to mind numbingly dull thematic music I would look at the featured pictures on picassa and save myself the ten bucks.

  • WAM

    Forgive me for pointing out that the man has died and he was entitled to his opinion.

    Do yourselves a favor and rent “Marty”. Borgnine’s performance in that film is authentic, wrenching, and from the heart. A performance with lots in common, come to think of it, Heath Ledger’s turn in BBM (his loss to what’s-his-name for Capote was the real robbery that night, IMHO).

    Ernest Borgnine was an under-rated, very talented man.

    A little respect is due.

  • Ryan

    It’s not that he didn’t care to see it because he wasn’t interested. The “John Wayne would roll over in his grave” line made it clear his reasons were homophobic in nature. However, he was 88. I’ll give him a pass.

    @Ty, what? “Pandered to”? So you think any movie with gay lead characters are “pandering” to gays, and that’s wrong, for some reason? Do you think movies with straight leads and romances are “pandering” to straights? How sad for you.

  • Ty


    No, a show like Glee for example panders to the gay community by making Kurt this poor brave victim and making every episode about his sexuality… and of course gays love it because it’s pandering to us. Same with the gays who have decided that Lady Gaga is this spokesperson for our community because she includes LGBT issues in her act, being too naive to realize she knows precisely what she’s doing because gay people will idolize her just because she caters to us

  • Mr. Z

    @Ty: So, the only reason gays like Lady Gaga is because she gives them things they like? That bitch!

  • Ty

    @Mr. Z: Have you seen the way gay men try to act like this fly by night pop star is superior to icons with longevity like Babs and Madonna just because “she kisses our ass”. Gaga knows what she’s doing, kissing gay ass puts cash in her bank account. She was a pop fad and her 15 minutes have already run out, but the LGBT community put so much stock in her and hyped her into more than she really was just because she knows where the money is.

  • Ryan

    You’re a very sad and angry man, Ty.

  • Aaron

    @Christopher: Is it rong that this comment ofended me far more than anything Borgnine said? Fuck Out of Africa, and fuck the Color Purple. The film that should have gotten best picture, director… everything that year was Kurosawa’s Ran, something to which most film critics and historians will attest to. Of course, Kurosawa didn’t get nominated for Jack shit, because Hollywood would rather pander to movies like The Color of Purple.

    And as much as I think Ty is an idiot when it comes to talking about Lady Gaga (15 minutes… really? If you’re a film person like me, just watching her videos you can tell this woman is far more talented than just about any other pop singer out there, with the possible exception of Adele. She’s essentially an auteur of music), he’s right about Brokeback Mountain. There are far better Queer films out there. Take, for instance, Chuck & Buck. Brokeback Mountain was a queer movie for the mostly heterosexual masses, while Chuck & Buck is a queer movie for queer people, written, directed, and starring a bisexual man.

    Whoops. I got so caught up in a film rant I forgot about the story… Marty is a far superior film to Brokeback Mountain. And should what he said really be held against him so much? Firstly the man was 88. Not an age known for their acceptance of all people. Secondly, it’s not like he came out and said “those damn fags and their takin’ away the oscars!”. What he said was certainly far less offensive than anything John Wayne said in, say, his Playboy interview.

  • Ty


    sad and angry because I don’t worship a derivative bubblegum pop starlet who copies a bunch of artists I already enjoyed the first time around and consider her the spokesperson of all gay people despite her self-appointing herself as our queen? mmmkay.

  • Ty


    An idiot about Gaga? I already grew up with Madonna, Lauper and Annie Lennox…. as well as Grace Jones, David Bowie, Freddie Mercury and everyone else Gaga has tried to copy in her career. Gay people love her because she panders to the gays and realizes the value of the gay dollar. She’s already fallen off the map because what was so fresh about her four years ago is old news now. I’d rather follow artists with talent, Florence is as theatrical as Gaga, but she doesn’t sing bubblegum pop nor does she have this “I love the gays, they’re my heroes” act like Gaga does, so most gays don’t care because they’d rather enjoy fluffy pop than something that requires actual investment.

  • Tom

    @Codswallop: I personally thought Heath Ledger was overrated in the role and preferred Jake. The whole time I was in the theater I thought “Why is he talking like Billy Bob Thornton in Sling Blade?” I couldn’t get past it. Michelle Williams was amazing, though.

  • Matthew Rettenmund

    It’s not that Borgnine had an opinion on a movie, it’s that he stated he would NOT see a movie BECAUSE it had gay content. That’s pretty gross, and any gay person who defends that based on his right to an opinion is missing the point. Nobody’s saying he had no right to an opinion, we’re saying his opinion was bigoted. And it was.

    That said, he was an enduring star and talent and was a nice guy in person and the totality of who he was can certainly be looked at rather than one unfortunate aspect.

    But also, on BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN, while it did not completely blow me away, it was a beautiful movie with a performance by Heath Ledger that is one for the ages. I don’t mind that some people dislike it, but people who sneer at it and try to psychoanalyze people who do like it are just fucking assholes. Why do you care?

  • abel

    Queerty just lost me as a reader. If that’s your opinion of Brokeback Mountain, then you are as dumb as I’ve been thinking you are. Bye, bye, idiot.

  • Hyhybt

    That he didn’t want to watch, even that he didn’t want to watch because he couldn’t stand a sex scene between two men, doesn’t make him an enemy. I don’t want to watch a sex scene between two women; does that make me lesbiophobic? No. Because I don’t have anything against lesbians, and wish them well. I just don’t like watching them.

    What matters most in judging someone’s character is how he treats others… and that, we don’t really know. At least, not directly. What sort of reputation did/does he have among people who knew him, worked with him, etc.? If there’s anything at all solid to go by, that’s the best we’re likely to get. Unless, of course, it turns out he donated heavily to FRC or AFER or something.

    (As for Oscars… I haven’t seen Crash, don’t even know what it was about or who was in it. I did see Brokeback, and while I’m glad it did well, it didn’t do a thing for me. Whether that’s because it wasn’t a good movie or simply that it wasn’t to my taste, I cannot tell for certain. It does happen sometimes, though, that an unfortunate coincidence puts two or more deserving movies out in the same year, and only one can win. (And, likewise, it can happen that none of them are all that good.) Someone mentioned “The Color Purple” and “Out of Africa.” I haven’t seen either since the 80’s, but best I can remember, both of them were both pretty good movies *and* just the type that, whether good or not, tends to win Oscars. Had they been released further apart, there’s every chance they’d both have won, so how is it such a travesty that one did and the other didn’t?)

  • Ty

    @abel: don’t let the door hit you on the way out. Gotta love it when its considered this huge sin to have a different viewpoint in the gay community. Not all of us think Brokeback Mountain, Glee and Lady Gaga are the greatest things pop culture ever gave us.

  • Marianne Seggerman

    Borgnine played a gay character himself – and he probably didn’t know it. The Roman centurion in Jesus of Nazareth asks the title character to heal his slave, with whom he is having a kinda gay Thomas Jefferson-Sally Hemmings thing going on, minus the kids, of course. Read your Boswell.

  • primo19

    BM was overrated?! Oh, come on! Ingmar Bergman had quite different opinion on that and I think we can easily consider him as a much more distinguished authority than Borgnine.

  • Hyhybt

    @Marianne Seggerman: It’s plausible, but hardly definite.

  • Aaron


    Oh, great, the same old argument. Please, enlighten me as to how ANY of those artists were truly original. Because I could rattle off an enormous list of the people they copied. No art is original. It’s never been original. Gaga is just very open about her influences and what she homages. That’s kind of the point of Post-Modernism. She’s essentially a musical version of Quentin Tarantino. Of course, Tarantino has his detractors, so naturally Gaga does, too. Those people are usually left in the dust bin of history. I also fail to see how selling the most concert tickets worldwide last year and have several top 10 singles (as well as spending several weeks at number one with a song) during said year qualifies as not being relevant anymore. And bubblegum pop…. really? You’ve never actually listened to the full Born This Way album, have you? Not surprised. See, when I dislike an artist, I actually LISTEN to their albums first, before bashing. If Gaga is bubblegum pop, what do you think Madonna and Lauper are? Well, the fact is that none of them are bubblegum pop – they’re just pop. Carly Rae Jespen is bubblegum pop. Not Gaga.

    It’s really no use replying, though. (And yes, you can go ahead and do your victory dance, and tell me not to let the door hit me on the way out, etc.) Oh, but nice job thread derailing. Not that I didn’t help, but I could have sworn the original article had nothing to do with Gaga….

    But completely unrelated to you and slightly related to this: Brokeback Mountain wasn’t about two gay men, or two straight men. It was about to bisexual men (albeit, one leaning more straight, and the other gay). It amazes me people STILL think it has to be ‘one or the other’.

  • Tovouno

    Crash was an ugly, by-the-numbers, deeply reactionary movie that had no business even being nominated, let alone win. If you believe a rapist, racist cop can metamorphose into a savior of black folks overnight, for no apparent reason, then you are an easy mark for pulp writers everywhere.

  • Ty


    Well it got to Gaga because of the gay mafia whining that someone dared say they disliked BBM, which much like Glee and Gaga have this stranglehold over the gay community who somehow think disliking it is traitorous. I am with Queerty on this, I hated BBM and have no desire to see it again. And of course Madonna and Cyndi were bubblegum in the 80s, but thats it, that was 30 years ago (well Madonna’s latest music is garbage, but how about listening to some Cyndi Lauper after 1986 before saying she’s still a bubblegum act). Gaga has been recycling what all these icons did in the 70s and 80s (Bowie, Madonna, Queen, Prince, Michael Jackson, Grace Jones, etc…) and marketing it to people who weren’t around then. I am already someone who is a huge fan of those aforementioned artists. Gaga has had a huge fall in popularity over the past twelve months, its very evident. Katy Perry and Adele have completely stolen her thunder in recent times Touring stats mean nothing, Madonna still sells tickets, nobody is claiming MDOA was a success, how about The Rolling Stones, they still sell more tickets than just about anyone but have they really been on the pulse of what is hot in 30 years?.

    If you’re going to have a problem with me disliking Gaga and Glee, then how about “fuck The Color Purple”??? That is one of my fave movies ever. So if you’re going to have a problem with me not jumping on this bandwagon thinking that Gaga is the greatest thing ever when I already am versed on the artists she is copying, then should I get mad at you for saying fuck a movie I watch at least once a year?

  • PTBoat

    The film certainly was not overrated. It was ground breaking and stands the test of time with the integrity of the acting, production, and cinematography.

  • Zeldorf


  • ericbNYC

    dan avery, i’d advise that you try to go out and make a movie as beautifully executed as brokeback mountain.
    when you make your movie, please come back and tell us that brokeback mountain is overrated.
    anybody who knows anything about how movies are made agrees that BM is a beautiful film.

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