Marty (1955) starring Ernest Borgnine, Betsy Blair, Joe Mantell, Esther Minciotti directed by Delbert Mann Movie Review

Marty (1955)   4/54/54/54/54/5

Ernest Borgnine and Betsy Blair in Marty (1955)

An Earnest Borgnine in Marty

"Marty" is the compelling story of 34 year old Marty, a man who still lives at home with his mum, hangs out with his friends and has pretty much given up on finding romance. That doesn't sound that special but trust me "Marty" is a special movie and also surprisingly honest in it's look at the life of singleton Marty. And it is the honesty of "Marty" in the way his life changes when he meets a woman who like him has given up on romance which makes it very touching. It's the sort of movie which isn't full of powerful scenes, or plays to a generic formula but charms you through being real and through the sensitive performances especially that of Ernest Borgnine as Marty who makes him very real, at times painfully real as it is so easy to empathise with him.

At 34 years old Marty Piletti (Ernest Borgnine - Bad Day at Black Rock) has all but given up on finding romance and fends of the constant nagging of his family and friends to find a nice girl to settle down with especially that of his mother who he still lives with. But a night on the town leads to a meeting with Clara (Betsy Blair) a very pleasant and plain school teacher who like Marty has given up on finding romance. Hitting it off immediately it seems that whilst tentative Marty may have found the love of his life, but will his friends and family feel the same when they realise what it would mean to them if Marty had his own life.

Ernest Borgnine and Joe Mantell in Marty (1955)

The strength of "Marty" is that whilst it looks like a well made studio movie it isn't just some generic story which turns Marty from being a sort of loser into being some sort of hero. Instead it feels honest as we watch Marty over the course of a couple of days which change his life. You immediately feel for Marty as we are introduced to him in the butchers where he works, pleasant and polite to everyone even when they remark on him not being married despite his brothers and sisters having found partners. It's almost comical that everyone nags him over being 34 and single and it's just as comical when you meet his best friend Angie who he hangs out with, both leading hum drum lives to the point that they have no get up and go to go out. But whilst comical it's also full of emotion because Marty is a nice guy and you know that being single isn't through lack of trying and choice, it's just the fact that he's grown tired of rejection and has got to the point where he has accepted being single even if deep down he still wants to find someone.

And this continues because throughout "Marty" even when he meets the plain but lovely Clara you still feel for him because you can sense his nervousness and unease at being in the company of a young woman. In a scene where she ends up crying on his shoulder you can feel his nervousness of what to do and then that becomes nervous energy when they hit it off as he can't stop talking about anything and everything. It is simply very honest but very good because Marty is a very real person, a person you know will have sweaty hands when he nervously tries to chat someone up, a person who through excited nervousness can't stop talking and behind that pleasant facade is unhappy despite being nice to everyone and loyal to his mum.

All of which is very nice and you do take joy when Marty and Clara hit it off, you warm to their friendship, the honesty they have with each other as they share dreams as well as fears. But there is an added cleverness to "Marty" because whilst his mum and friends nag Marty to find someone the minute he does they change. You watch as Marty's mum starts to worry that if Marty gets married she will no longer have a purpose, no home to clean or a child to look after. And then there is Marty's friend Angie who feels left out and left behind when Marty spends the evening with Clara. This change in personality brings everything back to Marty and forcing him to make a decision, either be loyal to his mum and reliable to his friends or reach for the happiness which is in his grasp.

Adding to what makes "Marty" so special is the absolutely brilliant performance from Ernest Borgnine as Marty because he makes him very real. As already mentioned you feel Marty's nervousness around women, the sweaty palms and need to talk about anything and everything out of nervous excitement. But you also feel for Marty as everyone nags him about finding a girl and Borgnine delivers the hurt which is simmering underneath quite brilliantly allowing it to bubble to the surface temporarily before returning making once more the amiable man. It's because Borgnine really delivers an honest character that "Marty" works and never becomes something orchestrated rather than the simplistic reality that it is. And whilst Ernest Borgnine makes "Marty" a stunning movie you have to say that Betsy Blair delivers just as much sweat realism as Clara.

What this all boils down to is that "Marty" is a brilliant movie, a movie which deserved the awards it won and Ernest Borgnine definitely earned the Oscar he received for his sensitive, amusing and real performance as the loveable Marty.