Based on a 1953 TV play by Paddy Chayefsky which had Rod Steiger in the title role, the film was a box office sensation after being first released as a second feature in a double bill, and was critically acclaimed. It received eight Academy Award nominations and won four, for Best Picture, Best Actor for Ernest Borgnine, Best Director and Best Screenplay (for the author of the original play, Paddy Chayefsky). It also became only the second American film (after 'The Long Weekend') to win the Palme d'Or at the Cannes Film Festival. In 1994, 'Marty' was deemed "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant" by the Library of Congress and selected for preservation in the National Film Registry.
The plot describes 2 days in the life of a 34 year old lonely bachelor, Marty, played by Ernest Borgnine, who is under pressure from everyone around him to get married. He trawls singles spots with his best friend Angie, played by Joe Mantell, and eventually meets Clara, a soul mate, played by Betsy Blair, and the movie ends with Marty finding the courage and self-belief to stand up to his friends, who now appear shallow and mean-spirited, and defending his girl. It is a charming tale simply told, directed with tact and discretion and presenting realisitic characters brilliantly portrayed by a first class cast.
Ernest Borgnine made his name in Hollywood playing sadistic heavies like Sergeant Judson in 'From Here to Eternity' in 1953 but fully deserved his Best Actor Award for his warm, sensitive and seemingly effortless portrayal of Marty. The supporting cast is small but do a first class job with Betsy Blair perfectly embodying a natural sweetness as Clara and Esther Minciotti avoiding overacting in her fine portrayal of the cloying Italian mother. Both Betsy Blair as clara and Joe Mantell as Angie received Best Supporting Oscar nominations.
The film is very satisfying to watch as well as being rich with sociological value. The movie strongly makes the point that the mundane and the beautiful can be the same thing at the same time and the struggle for lonely people to find acceptance and love is certainly a powerful and universal theme.
Main CastErnest Borgnine ... Marty Piletti
Betsy Blair ... Clara
Esther Minciotti ... Mrs. Piletti
Augusta Ciolli ... Aunt Catherine
Joe Mantell ... Angie
Karen Steele ... Virginia
Jerry Paris ... Tommy
CreditsDirector ... Delbert Mann
Producer ... Harold Hecht
Screenplay ... Paddy Chayefsky (from his own TV play)
Music ... Roy Webb
Cinematography ... Joseph LaShelle
Format ... B & W
Distribution Company ... United Artists
Release date ... April 11, 1955
Running time ... 91 minutes
Academy AwardsFour Wins:
Best Picture ... Harold Hecht
Best Director ... Delbert Mann
Best Actor ... Ernest Borgnine
Best Writing (Screenplay) ... Paddy Chayefsky
Four Unsuccessful Nominations:
Best Supporting Actor ... Joe Mantell
Best Supporting Actress ... Betsy Blair
Best Art Directiion/Set Direction ... Edward S. Haworth, Walter Symonds/Robert Priestley
Cinematography (Black and White ... Joseph LaShelle