Marty Movie Review: A Classic Best Picture You Must Seek Out

In Delbert Mann’s Oscar winner for Best Picture, Marty, starring Ernest Borgnine, you will find yourself cheering for Marty during every scene. You’ll want to pat his back and say “at-a-boy!” He is just that likable. Marty is a sad-sack butcher, all of 34 years old with no marriage prospects to speak of. He lives with his mother and is the last of his family still unhitched. He has an absolute heart of gold, though, and is a good friend, a good son, and a good butcher. Everybody wants Marty to settle down and constantly bothers him about it; even the lady just buying steaks at the butcher counter has a word or two for Marty.

Marty’s mother (Esther Minciotti) convinces Marty to go out one Saturday night to the Stardust Ballroom with his friend Angie (Joe Mantell). We are told on several occasions that the Stardust Ballroom is a nice place with nice people, so we don’t have to worry about any shenanigans. Unless smoking is shenanigans; there is a lot of smoking going on at the Stardust Ballroom.

Marty meets Clara (Betsy Blair) who has been jilted right in the middle of the Stardust Ballroom and left alone with her friend and her friend’s date. It is here that the screenwriter’s, Paddy Chayefsky, words really begin to soar off the page. Marty is so excited to meet Clara that he simply cannot shut up. He talks about how it isn’t fair to call each other “dogs” – meaning that they are not good looking – because here the two of them are getting along just swell. Marty takes Clara to his home and tries to kiss her but she doesn’t know how to react and rebuffs him. She does agree to go to the movies the next night, for which Marty will call her tomorrow afternoon.

Now that everybody sees that Marty has a prospect, everybody turns against him. His friends don’t want him to really have a girlfriend, and his own mother begins to worry about having to live alone. Marty had been considering buying the butcher shop, but maybe that isn’t the right thing to do. However, all that really matters is whether or not Marty will ignore all the voices in his ears and call Clara to go to the movies.

Ernest Borgnine and Betsy Blair are wonderful in Marty. They ooze chemistry even though we are told they are “dogs,” and too old for anybody, and will never find anyone special. But you will continuously root for them. Make that call, Marty. Make that call!

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Greg Hammond

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