Marty Cover It has been alleged that a lawyer from Washington DC called Edward Williams, was offered ten percent of this movie because of the legal work he had done on it. He turned this offer down. Bad move for him. Good move for Director: Delbert Mann; and Actors: Ernest Borgnine, Betsy Blair, plus Esther Minciotti. Especially for 90 minutes in 1955.


Should thirty-four year old Italian-American butcher, Marty Piletti (Ernest Borgnine), be ashamed of himself? Well, since all of his brothers and sisters are now married, and have flown the nest, he lives the life of a stray bachelor with his elderly Mother (Esther Minciotti), at their parental home. Plus to maker matters even more strained, his troublesome Aunt Catharine (Augusta Ciolli) is going to be living with them both shortly, because this miserable old cow keeps on stirring up trouble between her son, Tommy, and his new wife, Victoria.

Damn! Marty should do something to change his life around pretty quick, shouldn't he? But what can he do? Call up a girl he once met and ask her out on a date? Yeah. Sounds like a reasonable plan. Not that it does him any good mind you.

OK then, so what about if he and his best friend, Angie (Joe Mantell), go to the 'Stardust Ballroom' instead? As I hear that they have a lot of hot tomatoes over there! Yeah. That sound like a reasonable plane as well. And it does come with some quite unsuspected results to boot.

You see, not so long after Marty and Angie turn up at this dance hall, Angie pick's up a dame, leaving Marty on his Jack Jones and twiddling his thumbs like he always does. However, by chance of fate, somehow a twenty-nine year old teacher catches his eye, called Clara (Betsy Blair).

Granted, this pleasant encounter does not happen straight away mind you. Oh no! Only after Clara's date dumps her for another woman, paving the way for Marty to find a lady that lights his fire in a very big way.

Yes. That's correct. Marty and Clara really do connect on so many levels! They dance with each other. They talk to each other. Heck, they even walk with each other to their respective homes too.

But alas, just as soon as this fledgling union appears to flourish, life starts to get in the way of things once more. Drat!

Still, I suppose that is why what next transpires all kicks off when Mother's and best friend's plants seeds of doubts in Marty's mind. As Aunties come from hell - emotions begin to dwell - churches start to swell - plus a butcher gives a teacher a very late bell. 


Now I personally feel that the writer of 'Marty', Paddy Chayefsky, summed up this film very nicely when he said... 

'I set out in Marty to write a love story, the most ordinary love story in the world. I didn't want my hero to be handsome, and I didn't want the girl to be pretty either. I wanted to write a love story the way it would literally have happened to the kind of people I know'.

Well, to be perfectly honest with you, I could not have put it better myself, could I? This great film is one of those timeless classics' that has it all. A story that most people can associate with. Characters that really show character. An erstwhile common day dilemma that is defiantly worth exploring. Plus it is also very funny at times too.

Ernest Borgnine in Marty

Hey! Please allow me give you my 411 in a more categorised fashion:

Ernest Borgnine and Betsy Blair in Marty
THE ACTORS: All the actors in this piece do not act - they behave. Now I have heard quite a lot in the past about how an actor can express colors through emotion -- and for me this is the key that turns the lock to this film. Ernest Borgnine is his most earnest I have ever seen him before -- going from jovial to warm to passionate, without seeming out of step once. Betsy Blair also is very emotive too -- though done in a very understated and dulcet manner. And I have to mention that both Esther Minciotti and Augusta Ciolli are just a blast as the 'women of a certain age' -- both of them having the ability to be archetypal yet relatable at the same time.

THE STORY: It could easily be said that 'Marty' is a rustic form of rom-com in this more modern day and age. And do you know what? This definition is right on the money -- just with a splattering of 'Kitchen Sink Drama' added for good measure. Honestly, I loved the way that this film went full circle in both character and pathos, and allowed for the ambience of yesteryear to leak to the fore in personality and spender. Without a doubt this flick did not need special-effects, flavors of the month, or taboo slanted titivation to tell its tale. All it needed - and had - was good solid actors telling a good solid story. Perfect, through and through.

THE MESSAGE: The message behind this movie is a very simply one in hindsight - never lose hope, be happy, and remember that life is what you make of it. What a great message from such a great movie. Say no more. 

Ernest Borgnine and Betsy Blair in Marty

Betsy Blair in Marty
Listen, I think that this is a good point to tell you some filmic facts for this classic slice of cinema, huh? (1) The writer of 'Marty', Paddy Chayefsky, wrote this piece as a 'vehicle' for his actor friend, Martin Ritt, to star in. But alas, when Ritt was blacklisted by McCarthyism, his role when to Rod Steigher instead -- who played the lead in the original 1953 Philco-Goodyear Television Playhouse production. (2) It has been rumoured that Rod turned down this film version because the contract attached to it would have been to confining for him. Whilst another rumour stated that the producers of this film, Harold Hecht and Burt Lancaster, did not want Rod due to him playing this same role on television. Please note though; the actors who played Mrs. Pilletti, the Aunt, and Angie, all came from the same television production. (3) 'Dirty Dozen' director, Robert Aldrich, suggested Ernest Borgnine to the director of this film, Delbert Mann, because Delbert was unsure who to cast as its lead. (4) The actress who play's Clara in this movie, Betsy Blair, was almost not allowed to be in it because of the Hollywood Blacklist. Thankfully, her husband at the time, Gene Kelly, blackmailed the production company involved -- United Artists -- by threatening not to star in anymore of their films if she wasn't cast. (5) During the opening credits you can see Arthur Avenue at 187th Street in The Bronx. (6) This was the first official American film seen in the USSR since World War II -- the year, 1959. (7) It was rumoured that producers on this project, Harold Hecht and Burt Lancaster, financed it as a tax-write off -- insinuating that it would lose money. (8) This is the shortest film to win an Academy Award for Best Picture -- 90 minutes in total. Plus it was also the first American film to win the Palme d'Or at the Cannes Film Festival too. (9) This is the only film in recorded history that cost more to promote than it did to make - $400,000 compared to $343,000. Plus it made $3,000,000 at the box office. (10) In 1994 this film was selected by the Library of Congress to be preserved in the National Film Registry for its 'cultural, historical, and aesthetic significance'.

OK, so do I have to say anymore than that? No. I don't, do I. 'Marty' is a great film. A classic film. Plus one that will live on in infamy, just like the great man himself.  Over to you Mister Borgnine.

This review is dedicated to late great Ernest Borgnine - a brilliant man with a brilliant legacy. Love, light, and piece my friend.


MARTY MARTY Reviewed by David Andrews on July 19, 2012 Rating: 5
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