Ernest Borgnine stars as the titular Marty in this wonderful film recommended in the Great Movies – 100 Years of Film book following my screening of On The Waterfront.
This is a gem of a film, lovely in its simplicity and honesty, and I can hear the echoes of it in my own life.
Marty is 34, a good Italian boy who lives with his mother (Ester Minciotti). He’s a butcher, debating on the offer of owning his own butcher shop, while all those around him keep asking him when he’s going to get married. As if it is just that simple. He’s a stocky fella, and of course, that isn’t what most women are looking for. He can’t even meet a girl, let alone plan to marry one.
His friends, including his best pal Angie (Joe Mantell) are fixated on the populist concepts of beautiful women, as portrayed in books and films, and spend their Saturday nights in dance halls trying to find a gal.
Urged on by his mother to go to out one last time, Marty meets plain-Jane, Clara (Betsy Blair), a 29 year-old university graduate who has the same problem. No one seems interested in her.
The two of them hit it off, sharing a wonderful night together, dancing, talking, and laughing. It is readily apparent to all, that they click, that they make one another happy, and despite their social awkwardness they seem well on their way to a good relationship.
Unfortunately, his friends think she’s a dog, his mother, seeing the possibility that his son may finally be leaving her, tries to point out all the flaws she sees in Clara.
And Marty being the good boy he is, succumbing to peer pressure, is on the verge of sacrificing his own happiness for those around him….
This is a wonderful film, and one that resonates with me personally. I’ve always had a tough time meeting women, and while popular culture has influenced my concepts of what I want, and what I should have in terms of a relationship, I totally agree with the belief that if someone makes you happy, then, no matter what other people think, that’s who you should be with.
There’s no bells and whistles in this film, it’s a simple story, wrapped up in some wonderful performances, an honesty and beauty to it that shows you don’t need a huge budget and a green screen to make an entertaining film. You just need characters and a story that your viewers can relate to.
It’s a beautiful film, and if you’ve never seen it, I can’t recommend this one enough, Borgnine is fantastic and apparently I wasn’t the only one who thought so. The film won Best Picture, Best Director, Best Screenplay and won Borgnine a Best Actor Oscar.
Check it out and let me know what you think.