Sunday, January 11, 2009

Marty - 1955

The first time I saw this movie, I was in high school and it was at my dad's insistence. If he enjoyed something, it was a given that my siblings and I should enjoy it too. If you didn't enjoy it the way he did, there was something wrong with you. That's just the way he was. What he enjoyed most at that time was a new VCR and an expanding movie collection. We spent a greater part of that summer getting acquainted and reacquainted with the classics. Before we began watching Marty, Daddy explained this was a 'sleeper' hit, meaning it won critical acclaim despite great things not being expected at the time of the film's release. It was nominated for eight Oscars and won four, picked up two awards at Cannes, including the Golden Palm, won a Golden Globe, and many others. Even today, this is impressive.

If you haven't seen it let me set it up for you without spoiling it:

The story is of Marty Piletti (played excellently by Ernest Borgnine), a thirty-something bachelor who lives and works in the Bronx with his beloved, widowed mother. It's at her urging that Marty attends a dance at the famous Stardust Ballroom. While there, he witnesses a woman named Clara (again, excellent portrayal by Betsy Blair), being dumped about two minutes into a blind date. Marty comes to Clara's rescue, and they seem to hit it off. That's all I'll say.

I loved this movie for a few reasons. First, the entire movie was well acted. Mrs. Piletti, played by Esther Minciotti, was the typical overbearing mother who wants her son to settle down, yet isn't quite ready to let him go. What I liked most is the honesty of this movie. It deals with feeling 'not good/smart/pretty enough' and the emotions that come with it, in a raw, sincere manner. In a time when movies swept many of life's unpleasantries under the rug, Marty took its issues head on and put the hurt front and center. There's also a "wait a minute - what am I thinking!" moment that merits mentioning.

If you've seen it, let me know what you think. If you haven't, I believe you'll be pleased when you do. If you don't love it, my daddy was right - there is something wrong with you!

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