Monday, March 25, 2013

291. MARTY (1955)

Running Time: 89 minutes
Directed By: Delbert Mann
Written By: Paddy Chayefsky
Main Cast: Ernest Borgnine, Betsy Blair, Esther Minciotti, Joe Mantell, Jerry Paris
Click here to view the trailer


I saw "Marty" only one other time, prior to last night and I remember adoring it. This time around my feelings lessened a little bit, but I still think it's a really good picture and world's better than Paddy Chayefsky's other BOOK offering, "Network".

The film takes place over the course of a weekend and begins on Saturday, as we meet Marty (Borgnine), a 34-year-old butcher, living in The Bronx, with his mother. Marty is an Italian-American and is unmarried. I'm not sure what bothers Marty more, being unmarried or being hounded by everyone around him to GET married. When Marty leaves work on that Saturday, he meets up with his best friend Angie (Mantell) and the two drink cokes at a local hangout and try and decide how they'll spend their Saturday night. Angie wants Marty to call up a couple of girls that they met a while back, but he'd just as soon go back home (his mother's home) and watch the Hit Parade. Marty finally breaks down, after some coaxing by his mother, and goes to a local singles bar. At the bar, a man, whom Marty doesn't know, approaches him and asks him if he'll take a blind date ("a real dog" as he puts it) off his hands, so that he can go and meet another girl. Marty is disgusted by the stranger's offer and refuses. Later, however, Marty meets the girl that the guy wanted to get off his hands and the two hit it off. The girl is Clara (Blair), a very shy, homely Chemistry teacher, living in Brooklyn. The two have a wonderful night together, probably Marty's greatest night ever with another woman and at two in the morning, they finally part ways with Marty promising to call her on Sunday.

Let's get real, shall we? Do you know why I dig "Marty" so much? Because before I met my wife, I was Marty. Hey, I'll admit it I'm an overweight guy and I didn't have girls knocking down my door for dates. Now, don't get me wrong, I'm no dog or anything, but had fate not brought my wife and I together, I'd have been the guy that everyone wondered about. Whether I'd get married, whether I'd ever meet girl, etc. So when I watch "Marty", there are certain scenes that really hit me, most notably a few scenes early on. The scene where he calls the girl and tries to get a date, particularly and then the scene where he's eating and he argues with his mother ("you get kicked around long enough and you become a professor of pain"). But hey, you don't have to be the ugly duckling or the lonely heart to get the appeal of "Marty". Borgnine is fantastic in the title role and I think this is a movie that is going to appeal to a lot of tastes.

I'll never forget seeing this for the first time. My wife and I were living in our very first apartment and she'd gone off to work and I stayed home with a cold. I can remember lying on the couch, coffee table scattered with cough drops and tissues and for some reason or another, I popped in "Marty". It was at a time when I was trying to expand my cinematic knowledge, so I was watching pretty much anything I could get my hands on. Still though, I hadn't seen very many films pre-1975, so it was a big deal for me to be watching something this old and when I liked it as much as I did, it only opened the door a little wider for me to enjoy older movies more often.

There's really not much else to say. "Marty" is a great movie. For me, there's a personal connection that I can make with it, which is always good, it's simple and it's brilliantly acted. I've never seen Borgnine do a better job and hey, Jerry Paris is in there too - from "The Dick Van Dyke Show" fame, an all-time favorite TV show of mine.

RATING: 7.5/10  When I saw it initially, years ago, I gave it a '10'. Today a '7.5' seems more suitable and there's always room for reflection and for that rating to rise.


March 25, 2013  4:45pm


  1. I'd normally run screaming from a film that is contantly being sold as 'heartwarming', 'feelgood' etc, but I also very much enjoyed this. It managed to keep the right side of the line and not become sickly sweet & over-sentimentalised.
    I'd been inrigued in seeing this one for a couple of reasons..
    It won best the pictute Oscar in my Birth year. So, OK, I don't necesarily pay that much attention to Oscar winners, but it brings it to your attention.
    Also knowing or not knowing it was BP in 1955 is an important plot device in the film 'quiz show'. I won't explain how/why as that would be a spoiler.

    1. I've actually see "Quiz Show" and liked it pretty well!

  2. For folks who may be in the San Francisco Bay Area during May (2013), the Mechanics Institute Library will be screening 5 Chayefsky films, one each Friday evening, beginning with ‘The Americanization of Emily’ this Friday May 3rd and including 'Marty' on May 24th:

    Cinemalit – Paddy Chayefsky: Scenes from American Lives:


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