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I think of this is a great rainy afternoon movie. You're flipping through the channels on one of those great lazy Saturdays...it's summer but it's raining outdoors and you're stuck inside. You come across a classic movie channel (AMC, TCM--take your pick) and pause. What's this? Ernest Borgnine? You always like him, why not stop for a moment and watch. It looks like it's just beginning. "Marty"? Yeah, you've heard of it, vaguely. Won the Oscar or something, but it's been kind of forgotten. So you start watching and before long you're totally enchanted, completely charmed, by the simple story and realistic characters. Who can't sympathize with Borgnine's sensitive butcher, hanging out with his Italian friends and their goofy conversations about Mickey Spillane, all the while pining away with his heart of gold for a girl that his buddies call a "dog"? The conversations have the kind of natural humor and warmth that remind you of the old days hanging out with your pals. As you watch the movie, you find yourself enthralled and you never change the channel, watching it till the end, realizing that you've seen this plot riffed on and spoofed on various TV shows, films, and cartoons over the years. When the movie's done, you're really excited--this is one of those films you discovered on your own and nothing can beat that thrill. Now, this isn't the way I saw "Marty"--I rented it and now own it on DVD--but it's the spirit I get from it. I love the conversation between Marty and his best friend, its street poetry that's entertaining without being false, in the diner as their Friday night lays out ahead of them. I love Marty and Clara's walk, their honesty and his enthusiasm; you worry is he going to far, being too gregarious for the shy Clara? Will it work? I love the preparations for Sunday Mass, the fight between the married couple, and Marty agonizing over standing up his girl while his friends have an amusingly banal and silly conversation in which they keep repeating themselves. It's really just a charming and wonderful film, joyful even in its sad moments. If you don't enjoy it, what can I say, but my recommendation comes completely honest and from the heart. This is one of those personal favorites that also happens to be an underrated classic--but just underrated enough so that the joy of discovering it on a rainy Saturday afternoon remains undiluted.
Marty Piletti (Ernest Borgnine) is a lonely, insecure and honest thirty-four
years old good man, living with his Italian mother, Mrs. Theresa Piletti
(Esther Minciotti), and working as a butcher. Angie (Joe Mantell) is his
best friend, a very shallow person, and his company to the bars and
ballrooms in the evenings, since the ugly and fat Marty is rejected by the
girls. His Italian family and friends put pressure on him to get married,
but Marty has no girlfriend and lots of difficulties to get close to women.
One Saturday night, Marty meets Clara Snyder (Betsy Blair), a twenty-nine
single, ugly (obs: `dog', in accordance with the description of Marty's
friends in the story, but indeed Betsy Blair was a charming woman, having
beautiful eyes and lovely smile and voice) and rejected woman, in a
ballroom. Betsy is a teacher in Brooklyn with college degree, and like
Marty, is very insecure and has the feeling of rejection by men. They feel
attracted by each other and spend a wonderful night together. On the next
day, before and after the Sunday Mass, Marty's relatives and friends make
jokes with the lack of beauty in Clara. The marvelous open end of the story,
uncommon in American movies, is one of the best I have ever seen. This movie
is a simple, beautiful and touching love story with magnificent performances
of the cast and a sensitive direction. The story and slangs (dog, tomatoes
etc.) are dated in 2004, but does not jeopardize the beauty of this
delightful romance. `Marty' is the only Best Picture winner (awarded in
Picture, Director, Actor and Screenplay and nominated for Supporting Actor,
Supporting Actress, Art-Direction and Cinematography) to also win at the
Cannes Film Festival. My vote is nine.
Title (Brazil): `Marty'
Okay, so I'm in the Business. I don't believe this movie could get made
today except as an art house film. Its beauty lies in its simplicity.
Starting with a terrific script by Chayefskey (arguably one of the five best
playrights of the 20th century), this movie eschews every that's big about
motion pictures for a story about Everman who didn't have a date on Saturday
night. Rod Steiger first performed the role on television. It won a number
of Emmys. "Opened up" for the silver screen, it retains the intimacy of its
characters. Ernest Borgnine has probably been in 100 movies, but this was
his shining moment. He breathes live into the hapless Bronx Butcher whose
soul longs for love. When he gives his "I'm gonna get down on my knees..."
speech, the tears begin to flow. Why? Because in our heart of hearts, each
of us feels the need for love and self validation. Marty doesn't need
special effects or action sequences. Marty is in a class by itself. Had it
never been made we would have all missed an opportunity to look inside
ourselves. Maybe in this day and age, with all our CGI and Virtual Reality,
we need another Marty, to remind us who we really are.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Rarely does a scene come along in a movie that's so powerful, affective, and
ultimately satisfying as the scene at the end of `Marty' when the title
character stands up to his shallow friends. Ernest Borgnine plays Marty, in
a performance that's so heartwarming, kind and earnest it would take a very
cold man not to love him. Marty is an honest butcher, who, at thirty-four
years old, has been turned very insecure by the years of being turned away
by women because of his looks and nervous manner.
The film spans over two days in Marty's life, starting in the morning of the first day and ending at night in the second. Marty lives timidly but happily as a single butcher, with shallow, sex crazy friends and a mother at home who acts as peacemaker in family battles. The mother (Esther Minciotti) also nags Marty to find a gal and get married, but Marty argues, `Whatever it is woman want, I don't got.'
Eventually she persuades (or forces) Marty to go to a dance ball and find a woman. Marty goes with his friend Angie (Joe Mantell), Angie gets a dance, Marty doesn't. Eventually Marty is confronted with an offer by a slimy man on the dance floor: the man will pay Marty five dollars to take home his date, Clara (Betsy Blair), because he wants to dance with a more attractive woman. Marty refuses, but another man accepts, and it ends with Clara running off crying. With both bravery and sympathy, Marty walks up to Clara and introduces himself.
That starts what's one of the most affective and touching love stories in movie history. Both are insecure because of their appearances Marty because of his weight and Clara because of her gawkiness (which is admirable, any other movie would have Ernest Borgnine romancing someone like Grace Kelly). They are awkward at first, Clara is quiet and Marty rambles, but they soon grow comfortable with each other. They spend a wonderful night together that's fuelled not by lust or sex, but by sympathy, kindness and a deep understanding of each other.
By the end of the night, once Marty drops Clara off at home, he waltzes happily through the street. This scene is joyous and wonderful and powerful, when he hits a stop sign in delight, it's like a ballet.
But things aren't so well the next day. Marty's mother says she doesn't like Clara and is not approving, but we know because of a subplot that she is really just afraid of being alone. Marty's friends are perplexed as to why Marty would want to date a woman so plain and badger him about it. Marty is insecure so he spends the day passively nodding as everyone around him berates his choice for a woman. We saw their time together so we know what a mistake he can make if he doesn't call her like he promised, which makes the ending all the more glorious.
This movie is lovable on all accounts: writing, characters, music, direction, setting and especially the performances. Borgnine, who spent his time before this film playing sadistic killers in B movies, is so irresistible in this film it's hard to imagine him as a mean guy (which makes him a good actor, I guess). His performance is so realized; he's got the character down flat as he effortlessly moves through each scene. He won the only Oscar of his career for his role here, and it was an Oscar well deserved.
The supporting cast is small, but it rounds out fine, with Blair embodying sweetness as Clara and Minciotti perfectly portraying the Italian mother. The others are fine, but in small roles, I find it most perplexing that Mantell received an Oscar nom for his work in this. I was surprised that Jack Lemmon won an Oscar that year for `Mister Roberts', but I guess if this was his competition
`Marty' is a terrific, original chick flick that achieves cinematic grandness in a few scenes. A must-see for everyone, 8/10.
I have known, loved and seen this film many times in the past fifteen years and finally bought it recently on DVD in the UK. The story is timeless and I am very surprised that no-one has yet attempted a plausible re-make of it. Stangely made in black and white ( for economic reasons I suppose, as color was widespread enough in 1954 ), the film depicts the horrors of trying to find a soul-mate with family pressures on hand to boot. No doubt italo-Americans will appreciate even more. I found Betsy Blair extremely attractive although she is supposed to be portraying someone "ugly" - the subject is fascinating and endlessly complex as beauty is in the eye of the beholder. The general impression given was one of a depiction of a real-life situation, which is of course to the credit of the film !! I remained hungry at the end and would have liked the film to continue just a little more to show the genesis of their amorous relationship !! But some would argue that at the end of a film you should be left wanting for more .......... I also loved the theme music which is actually sung at the end over the credits where they show the name of the actor plus a view of the actor from the film - this is a technique used all too little nowadays - and this absence is most regrettable as it enabled you to put a face to a name !! I was both surprised and amused that in the 1950's, ugly people were referred to as "dogs" - sounds so funny now - but I think the word "squares" or "cornballs" was also used disparagingly !! Definitely a most original film and which (exceptionally) seems to have attracted a unanimity of positive reviews on IMDb !!
Despite having only the most basic of story-lines, this is a nicely-crafted
movie with a worthwhile story. Ernest Borgnine deserves the praise he has
received for his performance as "Marty", and he seems very natural in the
part, for all that it seems so different from most of his other roles. The
other characters are also rendered believably, and events develop naturally.
While the two main characters may think of themselves as failures, viewers
can see that they are just ordinary persons trying to be honest and
sensitive, and this makes it easy to identify with them.
The story efficiently introduces Marty and the other characters, showing how he interacts with them. Since the others are all so absorbed in their own concerns, they view Marty solely in terms of how he fits in with their own plans and desires, again making it easy for the viewer to relate to him. Joe Mantell, Esther Minciotti, Augusta Ciolli, and Jerry Paris make Marty's family and friends thoroughly believable, and they work well in their interactions with Borgnine. By the time that Marty meets Clara (Betsy Blair), everything is set up so as to get the most out of the possibilities.
Praise also goes to Delbert Mann and Paddy Chayefsky for being willing to make a movie out of such low-key material. It may not impress those who have become benumbed by the ostentation of present-day film-makers, since its quality is of a subtler, more unaffected kind. But it's a worthwhile achievement in its own right, a story about ordinary persons and everyday concerns, of the kind that takes skill and understanding to make well.
I love movies of the 1950's and this is a prime example of the quality
today's movies seem to lack.
Being Italian myself I can relate to Marty's situation. Marty's mother and aunt are aging widows and Italian families are extremely close. Sadly, Marty's mother any aunt are feeling old and useless and in many ways try to sabotage their son's happiness. This is sad but true speaking as a bachelor myself. At one point your mother asks you, when are you ever going to get married and when they are older they want to live with you because they too are lonely.
I found myself deeply moved by the decency of Marty and the young teacher he meets at a singles dance. These are truly special people that life has passed by, but not for long. They discover each other and Marty calls the girl in spite of the reservations of his mother and friends.
Beauty is in the eye of the beholder and Marty and his young lady are the truly beautiful people in this poignant love story.
I would rate this movie 50 stars if I could.
Wonderful, funny at times and unforgettable.
A must see and a must have in any movie collection.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Before six pack abs, fake breasts, the inter-net and Aids, there was Marty. I feel sorry for the younger generation who will either not see this film or if they do will not appreciate its simplicity. Marty is a decent, hard working, lonely man who is hounded by his mother for not being married. He spends his free time with his equally lonely friends. He meets Clara. They both feel unattractive and rejected. Their first kiss is one of the most tender on film. If you watch closely, Marty pulls back before kissing Clara, showing his vulnerability. His Mother and best friend are jealous and selfishly try to talk Marty out of the relationship. In the end, he goes after the companionship he so desires. Ernest Borgnine deserved the Oscar he won. Watch it and enjoy!!
As an under-30 viewer of Marty I wanted to take the time to say that I
believe the value in a film such as this lies in the fact that it deals
themes that continue to be of relevance to contemporary
In particular, Marty has to deal with a widow mother whom attempts to thwart his chance at love in order to preserve her own central position in his life. The situation is not dissimilar to one that my boyfriend has to deal with- his mother is a widow and she is worried that if her son marries she will be displaced and have no social worth.
Ernest Borgnine's performance was superb, especially the scene in which he yells at his mother to lay-off trying to make him go out and find a girl at the Stardust Ballroom when he knows that all the night has in store for him is more heart-ache.
'Marty' is a movie that can be summed up simply in three words. It's very honest. Ernest Borgnine and Betsy Blair play the two main characters, Marty and Clara. The bulk of the movie takes place over one night, the night Marty and Clara meet. Everything is really that simple. The thing that is great is that neither of the characters is anything but human. They are flawed, they are insecure, and they are awkward around each other and don't know how to act in certain situations. The chemistry between Blair and Borgnine is absolutely beautiful. They give us a relationship that is real. There are moments in the movie, that I won't give away, that are almost hard to watch and its hard not to feel sympathy. At the same time, its hard not to relate to the characters on some level. They are human, they are flawed, and its beautiful to watch, yet sad at the same time. I was surprised by the charm of the movie and I recommend it to anyone. 8.5 out of 10.
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