Classic Movie Review: Marty (1955)

Posted: December 30, 2012 in Drama


Marty Piletti (Ernest Borgnine is a lonely butcher working in the Bronx in New York City.  He’s 34 years old and even his customers are starting to wonder if he’s ever going to get married.  He spends a lot of time with his best friend Angie (Joe Mantel) they don’t do much of anything together, except drinking beer at Marty’s house which he shares with his mother, Mrs. Piletti (Esther Minciotti)

Marty’s cousin Tommy (Jerry Paris) and his wife Virginia (Karen Steele) are constantly fighting about Marty’s aunt Catherine (Augusta Ciolli) so Tommy asks Mrs. Piletti if his mom can move in with her and Marty.  She and Marty agree, after all what else is going on in Marty’s life right now?  Marty is sick of being alone, and takes his mom’s advice and goes to a dance club.  After striking out with another girl at the dance club, Marty meets Clara (Betsy Blair), who is being stranded at the dance club by in inconsiderate blind date.  Clara and Marty hit it off at the dance club, and go to a to a café to get a cup of coffee.  The night is a success and after a little trepidation, they even give each other a good night kiss, and agree to see each other again.

The next morning, Marty’s mom immediately starts to sabotage Clara, calling her old and ugly, Mrs. Piletti is afraid that she will be left alone if Marty gets married.  Marty’s friend Angie joins in, calling Clara a dog.  He’s afraid he will lose his best friend to Clara.  Marty’s cousin Tommy doesn’t want to hear about Marty’s idea about buying the butcher shop he works in.  Tommy’s frustrated with being married and having a child.  His advice to Marty is:  Stay single.  What does Marty do?  Does he call Clara?  Or does the negativity around him cause him to have doubts about his burgeoning relationship with Clara?

This movie is for anyone who’s experienced loneliness, heartbreaking, gut-busting, loneliness, that is to say everyone.  Everyone has been lonely, at some point or other, everyone’s been rejected on a date with the popular guy or girl, everyone’s been set up on bad blind dates, and if you haven’t, I don’t think you’ve really experienced life.  This is an extraordinary movie to be made in a Hollywood culture obsessed with physically stunning people.  For example, in 1955 there was not one, but two movies with James Dean, East of Eden and Rebel Without a Cause, so to have a movie starring non-matinee idol Ernest Borgnine, about everyday people with real problems is noteworthy.

Borgnine was meant to play this role, a working class butcher, who has resigned himself to being alone for the rest of his life, he gives not one but two soliloquies about being lonely and ugly.  When he finally meets a girl with a similar life experience, he is so happy to meet her, he literally cannot stop talking.  He does not want the night to end.  I can see why Borgnine won an Academy Award for this movie, it is a phenomenal performance. Betsy Blair is also very good as Clara, the viewer can definitely feel her heartbreak as well.  The film also won Oscars for Best Picture, Best Director and Best Screenplay.

The writing is what makes this movie really stand out.   The screenplay and story by Paddy Chayefski, is amazing.  The characters are characters everyone meets every day, speaking the way working class people spoke in 1955.  This is not the queen’s English, it’s not Shakespeare, but it may be better because the pain that Marty and Clara feel is universal.  I rented this movie, because Ernest Borgnine passed away this year.  Please do watch this movie, if you can.  It is one of the best Hollywood movies ever made.

Marty:  I have no beef with this movie.

  1. Thank you, glad you enjoyed my review. It really is a very good film.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s