Monday, April 9, 2012


Marty is a 1955 film starring Ernest Borgnine in the titular role of Marty Piletti. Marty is a sweet neighborhood butcher in the Bronx who is constantly harangued by clients and family, especially his Italian mother, about his bachelor status, a state which Marty would gladly change if he could. Disheartened by his lack of luck with the ladies, including a fresh brush off from a girl he'd barely gotten the nerve to call, Marty resigns himself to another Saturday night spent at home and the fact that he'll always be alone, as he tells his mother "Whatever it is that women want, I ain't got it." When during dinner his mother starts harassing him to go to the Stardust Ballroom to try to meet a girl, Marty movingly yells at his ma, voicing his fears and heartache:

"I'm just a fat little man, a fat ugly man. I'm ugly, I'm ugly, I'm ugly. Ma, leave me alone. Ma what do you want from me? What do you want from me? I'm miserable enough as it is. Alright, so I'll go to the Stardust Ballroom. I'll put on a blue suit, and I'll go and you know what I'm going to get for my trouble? Heartache. A big night of heartache."

Marty's hopes (and ours for him) are seemingly answered when having listened to his ma and gone to the Stardust Ballroom with his friend Angie he meets plain and soft-spoken high school teacher Clara. As the night progresses, Marty and Clara share hopes and dreams, and the future seems bright for two lonely hearts in New York, but will Marty step beyond his fears and his family and reach for happiness.

In 1955, Marty won Best Picture, Best Director, Best Adapted Screenplay and Best Actor. In addition to its success in the U.S., Marty also won the Palme d'Or at the Cannes Film Festival.

I absolutely loved this film. It's a simple little film, but truly moving in its portrayal of loneliness and hope. I think I loved it so much because it spoke to my heart and my own fears and hang ups. I saw myself reflected in Marty. I had never seen Ernest Borgnine in another film, but he was wonderful in conveying Marty's emotions. Whether it's the exhuberant joy he feels after having dropped off Clara at home, where his face practically glows with hope, and in his eyes you could almost see his dreams for a future shared with someone. Alone no more. Or the more understated scene in the coffee shop when he tentatively, almost fearfully, shares his dream of buying the butcher shop, and Clara shyly offers her encouragement, and with her simple words offers him the confidence to believe in himself. Truthfully, this has become a new favorite. I had tears in my eyes and a smile on my face when I finished this film.