Ernest Borgnine, who passed away in 2012 at the age of 95, had a long and successful acting career. I first saw him when I was a kid watching reruns of the situation comedy McHale’s Navy. My own kids knew him as the voice of Mermaid Man on the silly kids cartoon show, Sponge Bob Square Pants. Borgnine could play dramatic roles well, often playing a tough guy or bully. In Marty, my classic movie pick for today, Borgnine got to play a sweetheart of a guy and I think it was closer to his real life persona. It was a great part for Borgnine and it also won him the 1955 Academy Award for Best Actor.
Marty Piletti is a 34 year old butcher who lives in the Bronx area of New York City. He is a hard-worker, who has been saving up his pennies and is thinking about buying the butcher shop from his boss who wants to retire. Marty wants to expand the shop into a small supermarket like he’s been reading about. Marty lives at home with his mom, Teresa, as his other siblings are all married and have families and homes of their own. He has a group of pals, Angie (nickname for Angelo) being his best buddy. They often go out as a group to a bar, or to the fights or a wrestling match. The one thing they have in common is that none of them are married; not one of them has a girlfriend.
One day at the butcher shop, some of the female customers tease Marty about getting married. Later at home, during dinner, Marty’s mom begins to pester him about getting married. She urges him to go to the Stardust Ballroom for the evening because she overheard Marty’s cousin, Tommy, say that the Stardust is full of “tomatoes”! She keeps on with her badgering, telling Marty that if he doesn’t get married he’ll die without a son! At that, Marty erupts at his mom, and tells her that he’s a fat, ugly man and has nothing that women want! As the evening goes on, Marty decides to go to the Stardust and gets Angie to go with him.
At the Stardust, a man approaches Marty. He offers to give Marty $5 if he’ll take his blind date off his hands. The man smilingly explains that he has run into a girl he likes much better and that the blind date is a plain, boring girl. Marty chastises this man for wanting to dump his date in such a fashion and walks away. He then learns that the man has found another to take the $5 and Marty follows this fellow out to the balcony where the blind date is waiting. Marty steps in and rescues the girl from the embarrassment of being dumped by her date. The girl cries on Marty’s shoulder and he shares with her his own experiences of being “dumped” by dates. The girl agrees to dance with Marty and tells him that her name is Clara Snyder, a 29 year old chemistry teacher from Brooklyn, who still lives at home with her parents. Pretty soon, Marty and Clara are having a nice time, dancing with one another, and then they leave the Stardust for a bite of food and some coffee at a local diner and continue to talk and get to know one another. Marty even brings her by his home to meet his mom! After that meeting, Marty escorts Clara to her house and they both agree that they like one another, that the date turned out great, and that they both want to see each other the next night, perhaps they’ll go to a movie. Marty promises to call Clara on Sunday.
Two more sub-plots give Marty more stress in his life. One, his Aunt Catherine lives with her son, Tommy and his family. Tommy’s wife, Virginia, and his mother, Aunt Catherine, dislike each other and that makes for a lousy home to live in. Tommy pleads with Marty and Aunt Teresa to invite Aunt Catherine to live with them. After Aunt Catherine moves in, she tells her sister, Teresa, that if Marty ever marries, what will happen to her? Will she, Teresa, be kicked out of her home by Marty and his new wife? This negative thought creates in Teresa a skepticism and coldness when she meets Clara for the first time. Second, Angie feels threatened by the fact that Marty could have found love and if he marries, it will break up their brotherhood, break up their friendship. Angie cruelly tells their pals that Marty wants to date a real “dog”.
With these two added stressers in his life, Marty hesitates to call Clara back and she, in turn, grows despondent as she watches Sunday night television with her parents, assuming she’s been dumped again by a man.
Will Marty call Clara? Will Marty be able to get mom to accept Clara? Will Tommy, Virginia, and Aunt Catherine have a better relationship? Will Angie learn to like Clara? To find out the answers to these questions, you have to seek out Marty and view it for yourself!
Marty is available to purchase or instant rent via Amazon. Marty is also available to buy via Turner Classic Movies shop. Several clips from Marty have also been put up on Youtube. For a sweet, lovely film that isn’t afraid to wear its heart on its sleeve and shows a realistic look at searching for love, check out Marty, soon!
Directed by Delbert Mann, Produced by Harold Hecht and Burt Lancaster, Screenplay by Paddy Chayefsky, United Artists, 89 minutes.