Stuck as the last of six children at home with an overbearing Italian mother, the only child still unmarried, 34 year old socially awkward Bronx butcher Marty faces middle age with no prospects of marriage, and he faces permanent bachelorhood. But when he is goaded by his mother into going to the Stardust Ballroom one Saturday night, Marty unexpectedly meets Clara, a lonely teacher. Suddenly, Marty's future seems bright. Written by
Film historians have credited this film with demonstrating the viability of low budget, independently-produced films in the United States and with the proliferation of such films. Studio executives were well aware that low budget, independent, and realistic films had been successful in Europe for many years, but most studios were skeptical that such successes would occur in the United States. Marty's profitable returns and critical acclaim demonstrated that low budget productions with lesser-known casts could be remunerative in the United States and could compete with European art-house productions on an artistic level. The film cemented United Artists' reputation as a haven for daring, independent producers, and inspired rival studios such as MGM and 20th Century Fox to delve into a similar brand of film-making with some of their productions. See more »
When Marty and Clara step onto the bus, the shadow of the boom mic is visible on the bus as it pulls away. See more »
Despite having only the most basic of story-lines, this is a nicely-crafted movie with a worthwhile story. Ernest Borgnine deserves the praise he has received for his performance as "Marty", and he seems very natural in the part, for all that it seems so different from most of his other roles. The other characters are also rendered believably, and events develop naturally. While the two main characters may think of themselves as failures, viewers can see that they are just ordinary persons trying to be honest and sensitive, and this makes it easy to identify with them.
The story efficiently introduces Marty and the other characters, showing how he interacts with them. Since the others are all so absorbed in their own concerns, they view Marty solely in terms of how he fits in with their own plans and desires, again making it easy for the viewer to relate to him. Joe Mantell, Esther Minciotti, Augusta Ciolli, and Jerry Paris make Marty's family and friends thoroughly believable, and they work well in their interactions with Borgnine. By the time that Marty meets Clara (Betsy Blair), everything is set up so as to get the most out of the possibilities.
Praise also goes to Delbert Mann and Paddy Chayefsky for being willing to make a movie out of such low-key material. It may not impress those who have become benumbed by the ostentation of present-day film-makers, since its quality is of a subtler, more unaffected kind. But it's a worthwhile achievement in its own right, a story about ordinary persons and everyday concerns, of the kind that takes skill and understanding to make well.
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