Oscars Challenge #50: Marty (1955) Movie Review
The 1950s may have been the decade of epics with classics such as Ben-Hur (1959), Around The World in 80 Days (1956), and The Greatest Show on Earth (1952). Films with giant sets, extravagant costumes, and bizarre characters are expected winners during the 1950s.
But in the middle, in 1955, a short yet heartwarming movie won. Marty may have been the underdog of all the winners in the same decade but trust me, the film butchered it out and deserved its recognition. This is one of those classics that aged like a fine wine.
This is a romantic drama about a middle-aged Italian-American butcher, Marty. He is 34, unmarried, and constantly pressured by his family and friends. He lives in The Bronx with his mother, while his brothers and sisters are all happily married and living with their families. He spends most of his free time with his best friend, Angie, in a local bar.
One day, Marty's mother pressured Marty to go to the Stardust Ballroom, a common place where people get dates and dance together. There he met Clara, a science teacher, crying because her supposed-to-be partner of the evening had left her for another date. Having shared similar disappointing experiences, the two spend the evening together dancing, walking around the streets, telling each other stories, etc. The two find themselves mutually attracted to each other, and they start to develop feelings for each other.
A film directed by Delbert Mann in his debut. He won the Best Director award and joined others like Jerome Robbins (West Side Story), Robert Redford (Ordinary People), James L. Brooks (Terms of Endearment), Kevin Costner (Dances With Wolves), and Sam Mendes (American Beauty) who received the recognition on their directorial debut. Surprisingly the film took just 16 days to shoot. It's very low budget and simple yet packs its pureness, delivering one of the loveliest story couples ever.
The amazing Ernest Borgnine and the lovely Betsy Blair star in the film as the two main characters, Marty and Clara. Both actors did an incredible job fulfilling their roles.
This movie might be one of the shortest in terms of runtime. It only spans around 90 minutes, but every scene is enjoyable. It's not hard to understand the story, and pretty simple. The characters are not your typical rich guy or girl falling in love with a person who belongs to a different class in society. I view Marty and Clara as two people just like us, struggling in our day-to-day lives and finding satisfaction and contentment with the opportunities presented to us.
My favorite scene in the film is when Marty realizes, after losing confidence in himself, his friends try to belittle Clara because she is not outgoing. He delivers a very heartwarming speech about how she makes him happy and that there is no one in the world that she wants to spend the night with than her. I am a sucker for speeches with deep meanings, so I guess I will give Marty enormous points for that.
I like how the film is shot like your typical back alley film. It's surprisingly simple, yet it shows the neighborhood the characters belong to.
This film amazes me because it's down-to-earth and can easily be related to it. It may have a limited number of cast and crew, but they delivered a gem.
Marty should be on your list if you are looking for a very lighthearted movie with a likable cast and plot. It has a short runtime, so you can watch it any day of the week.
A rightful 4.5 out of 5 stars.