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My Favorite Movie ~ Marty

By Edited Oct 18, 2016 6 10

Marty on DVD

All Dressed-Up and No Where to Go

"What do you feel like doing tonight?" "I don't know Angie, what do you feel like doing." "We're back to that huh? I say to you 'what do you feel like doing tonight?' and you say back to me, 'I dunno . . . then we wind up sitting around your house with a couple of cans of beer watching the Hit Parade on television." 

Anyone who's ever watched the movie "Marty" will no doubt recognize this marry-go-round exchange between the main character, Marty Piletti, and his pesky best friend Angie. These two middle-aged bachelors are always searching for "Miss. Right" but never quite know where to look. 

We Ain't Such Dogs 

Marty is a 34 year-old overweight butcher who lives in the Bronx with his widowed elderly mother. All of Marty's brothers and sisters are married, and there is nothing Mrs. Piletti would love more than for her son Marty to meet a "nice Italian girl" and get married. 

For Marty, that's easier said than done as he believes he's a "fat ugly man" and says "whatever it is that women like, I ain't got it." But an interesting turn of events places him in the right place at the right time and Marty meets Clara, a 29 year-old spinster who was just ditched by her blind date. While slow dancing, Marty delivers a line that has to be at the top of the list of what not to say to someone you've just met, or ever! Marty tells Clara "See, dogs like us, we ain't such dogs as we think we are." 

She's a Dog and I'm a Fat Ugly Man 

After meeting at a dance hall/ballroom, Marty and Clara go out for a cup of coffee and talk. Marty is amazed at how easily he can talk to Clara and is babbling on and on about his life while Clara smiles, nods her head and gets a few words in here and there. 

Later that evening while escorting Clara home, Marty asks her if they could stop by his home to pick-up a pack of cigarettes and she agrees. When they arrive at Marty's home, his mother is not  yet back from a visit with her sister who rants "It's a curse to be a widow!" She also tells Marty's mother that she too will be all alone when Marty finds a wife. After that pleasant conversation, Mrs. Piletti finds Marty home alone with this "college girl" who is, as her sister says, "One step from the street!" (as in streetwalker), and to make things worse, Clara is not Italian. 

Later, as Marty is walking Clara home he sees his best friend Angie who's upset because he's been looking for Marty all night. When Marty introduces Clara to Angie, he's not impressed. 

The next day, Marty gets an earful from his Mother and from Angie, who because of their own issues and insecurities both dislike Clara, although they don't know her. When Marty tells Angie he plans on calling Clara for a date, Angie tries to talk him out of it, saying she's a "dog" and he doesn't like her. To which Marty replies "You don't like her, my mother don't like her. She's a dog and I'm a fat, ugly man. Well, all I know is I had a good time last night. I'm gonna have a good time tonight. If we have enough good times together, I'm gonna get down on my knees. I'm gonna beg that girl to marry me! If we make a party on New Year's, I got a date for that party. You don't like her? That's too bad." 

A Gentle and Good Hearted Person 

The above synopsis is a simplified version of the movie which has many interesting characters and a wonderfully romantic storyline. It was filmed in black and white which adds to its charm. 

The first time I watched this movie was on television when I was a teenager, around 17. I remember being so touched by the characters of Marty and Clara and thinking "I want to meet someone like Marty!"

 Although Marty describes himself as a "fat, ugly man," in actuality, his kindness, good character, and respect for mankind make him appealing. You just know that if he and Clara get married he's going to be the most gentle and good hearted husband who would never think of cheating on his wife. I'll take that over a self-absorbed, arrogant, and physically handsome man any day. 

And The Oscar Goes to...Marty 

The story of Marty was adapted from a 1953 teleplay which was first telecast live on The Goodyear Television Playhouse. The stars of the play were Rod Steiger as Marty and Nancy Marchand as Clara. This television drama was honored in 1963 when the Museum of Modern Art chose to highlight it as part of their series on the best in American television.[2156] Three of the original television cast members chose to reprise their roles in the move, but the lead characters of Marty and Clara were recast with Ernest Borgnine and Betsy Blair. 

Marty won the Oscar in 1955 for Best Movie and Actor. Marty also earned the Best Screenplay Oscar for Paddy Chayefsky and the Best Director Award for Delbert Mann. Interestingly, this was Mann’s debut as a director and the movie was the shortest film to win the Best Picture award at just 91 minutes. The movie also won the Palme d'or Award at the Cannes Films Festival. 

An Ordinary Love Story 

In a book, Paddy Chayefsky said"I set out in Marty to write a love story, the most ordinary love story in the world. I didn't want my hero to be handsome, and I didn't want the girl to be pretty. I wanted to write a love story the way it would literally have happened to the kind of people I know..." [2155]

Marty not only lived up to Chayefsky's vision, but it has also withstood the test of time. To this day, it remains one of my favorite movies, romantic or non-romantic. Marty is a must see for anyone who loves a good old fashioned sentimental love story. That's my favorite movie ~ Marty.

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Jan 27, 2012 11:05pm
Boy you dredged up a KILLER classic here!! People forget Borgnine was a good actor before he appealed to the lowest common denominator in dreck like "McHale's Navy". Good reminder of how GREAT movies can be! A thumb.
Jan 28, 2012 11:34am
Yes, Marty is one of the best! It's absolutely amazing how Chayefsky took such a simple plot and made it a classic by creating wonderfully written characters that on their surface appear unsophisticated, however, in reality are complex, just like all of us. Thanks for the comment and your "thumb," vicdillinger!
Feb 1, 2012 11:23am
I'm with you! This is a very special film. I can't think of many performances by Borgnine that impressed me but I'll always remember Marty. The magic of this story is its simplicity and the earnestness of the characters. Great writing Deb!
Feb 1, 2012 3:06pm
Thanks Diva! Maybe if I get a few more accolades about Marty, my teens will stop making fun of me for liking it so much. This really is my all-time favorite movie; I see it at least once a year!
Feb 18, 2012 12:28am
Congrats on the feature!!
Feb 18, 2012 12:59pm
Thanks vicdillinger! Wow, what a great surprise!! Having 'Marty' featured makes me feel so 'warm and fuzzy' inside, thank you so much admin!! And, for all you hopeless romantics out there, I can't recommend this movie enough! I love it!!
Feb 18, 2012 4:27pm
This sounds really good - I'd like to see it now! Congratulations on the feature.
Feb 20, 2012 7:39pm
Thanks so much! 'Marty' was just on the Turner Classic Movie channel (TMC).
May 22, 2012 12:05am
Your article was truly inspiring: a perfect blend of history and personal involvement to go with the splendid synopsis. I am so intrigued, I can't wait to rent it myself...terrific writing!!
May 28, 2012 9:21pm
Thanks c4collins! Hope you enjoy "Marty."
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  1. Chayefsky, Paddy Two Choices of Material. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1955.
  2. Museum of Modern Art: "Television USA: Thirteen Seasons". New York, Press Report: MoMa, 1963.

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