It's a delight.
Marty is a 1955 romantic drama film directed by Delbert Mann and stars Ernest Borgnine and Betsy Blair. At 93 minutes long, it is still to this day the shortest film to ever win Best Picture.
Ernest Borgnine plays the titular Marty Pilletti, a well-meaning but bumbling 34-year old bachelor who has low self-esteem and lives with his Italian mother. Marty works an unsatisfactory job as a butcher and is constantly pressured by his family to find a woman and get married. Marty, however, has long given up on his hopes of finding love. That is until his mother convinces him to go the Stardust Ballroom dance one Saturday night. There at the dance, Marty meets Clara, a woman whose life has her in largely the same boat as Marty. She lives with her father and works as a high school chemistry teacher, yet she is 29 and has no hopes in sight of finding true love. Marty and Clara spend the night together, and the two develop a mutual and loving connection.
I want to give another thank you to Marlon Brando and Terry Malloy for opening the doorway to such works like Marty. It's a charming and heart-warming look into the lives of people who may not be as fortunate. Marty and Clara may not be the most attractive people in the world, but when two people know they have a meaningful connection, all suspicions and doubts should be defenestrated.
What I really like about Marty is how harmless it is. There is no reason for anyone to feel upset or regretful for seeing this film. There's no high-strung political or economical message that it's trying to preach. Extreme sentimentality is absent, and Borgnine and Blair are very well-suited for their respective roles, delivering strong performances that feel whole and realistic. Marty can make for a worthwhile solo viewing, and it also works as a pass-time for couples. Add in the fact that the movie is only about an hour and a half long makes it all the more attractive.
- The entire scene where Marty and Clara meet at the dance is the film's sturdy climax. Clara comes to the dance on a blind date, and she gets left alone when her date tries to bribe others to take Clara home for him. Clara retreats to the roof where Marty comes to greet and comfort her. The two share a slow dance, and it all comes together as a moving, heartwarming sequence. The two realize that they are ugly ducklings in their respective worlds, and it's what helps them connect and share a wonderful time together. Marty never tries to push his luck (well maybe a little when he takes her back to his house and he tries to kiss her), knowing it's one of the best nights of his life.
- The run time. I encourage people to see Marty especially because of how it can tell a convincing and lovable story in a short time span. Why must the Academy insist that 5 out of every 6 Best Picture winners must be at least 18 hours long?
- There is a minor subplot involving one of Marty's aunts named Catherine. Catherine is frail and widowed, and takes some of her frustration out on Marty's mother. This does have a significant effect on the story later on, but Catherine's presence comes off as a distraction. Her troubles are not what we came to see, and her effect on the plot could have been done in a different way.
I think keeping this review short and sweet is an appropriate reflection of Marty, which has a soulful and heartfelt charm that highly benefits from a short run time. It's simple, plain, and is a touching tale of a pair of misfits that find a way to fit together.
Here you'll find my reviews on just about any film you may have seen. I try to avoid major spoilers as much as possible. I structure my reviews in the following way: