Borgnine work here is supporting in the most traditional of senses in that what makes his performance so well is the way he supports William Holden's lead performance. This is can be sensed in his earliest scene where he rides into town to rob a bank alongside the rest of the bunch. Borgnine brings that understated determination and is particularly good in portraying the process of the robbery through simply through some slight facial indicators during the heist. After the heist there is one particularly strong moment for Borgnine, even though it is only short one, where Pike asks if they should bury one of their dead members to which two of there members suggest they should. Dutch disagrees though as Borgnine delivers intensely Dutch sarcastic remarks about suggesting hymns for the funeral which get the men to decide again. Although Borgnine certainly does that well what makes it so notable though are the glances he trades with Holden. Borgnine brilliantly realizes Dutch's role as he supports Pike. It's not just Dutch shutting down their idea, it's also Pike allowing himself to look more democratic even though he's completely in line with Dutch who acts as the harsh truth.
Borgnine and Holden both establish this certain connection that Pike and Dutch have incredibly well. Borgnine and Holden are marvelous together as they make you really feel the history the two have had with one another. They capture the certain wavelength between the two so beautifully as they are able to show how each man is able to say a whole lot to one another just through a slight gesture. There is also of course a more verbal moment in this regard which is when they speak to one another at the fireside after finding out that there latest heist only brought them a bag of washers. There is a certain sadness about this as both actors reflect the losses along the way as well as the fact that they are no longer the age they once were, and that society itself is changing around them. In addition though there is striking undercurrent of warmth that Borgnine brings in his interactions as he is so honestly supportive in these scenes as Dutch is a man who will have Pike's back no matter what comes. There friendship is not something that the film exactly constantly dwells on yet both actors are absolutely convincing in creating the powerful camaraderie between the two men.
The one scene where there is an antagonism between the two comes up when Pike defends the technically traitorous former member Thornton (Robert Ryan), but Dutch has no such sympathies for the man. Again the two are exceptional as they both passionately realize how the codes technically are almost the same though how they differ leave the one major disagreement between the two of them. Where Pike is clearly held back by past mistakes, Borgnine is terrific in showing that Dutch is not burdened by this therefore he can't make an exception for Thornton in his mind. Borgnine's work here is outstanding because he does not waste a second of his screen time, especially since he really can't given the technically limits of his part. There are so many slight reactions though that add so much such as when he has to go from a false callousness to a genuine concern when Dutch is forced to give up a member of the bunch who made a mistake, or just his perfect chuckle near the end of the film when it seems like they might make it out of a tense situation. My favorite single moment is his last line which is just yelling out "Pike" one last time. The anguish that Borgnine brings is incredibly moving as he calls back to their friendship in the final moments. This is great work by Borgnine as he makes something special out a role, that in lesser hands, could have been nothing.