Starring: Ernest Borgnine, Betsy Blair, Esther Minciotti
Director: Delbert Mann
Running Time: 90 mins
Marty is an American film about a well-mannered butcher who still hasn’t got married at the age of 34. However, one night, he comes across a woman in a similarly lovelorn situation, and the two quickly fall for one another, despite the reservations of the man’s friends and family.
This is a really nice film. It’s a relatable, likable and very sweet romantic drama that goes down as well as a slice of cream cake, thanks to a wonderfully simple and heartfelt story complete with some strong performances that, although don’t always have you totally enthralled in the deeper emotions of the film’s characters, make for a really nice watch throughout.
Let’s start off with what’s best about this film: the two lead characters. On the one hand, you have Marty himself, a well-mannered and kind man who just hasn’t been able to find the right person, leading everyone around him to chastise him for not having married yet. However, it’s so easy to take to the guy right from the first scene, making him arguably one of the most likable movie leads you’ve ever seen, and as such you’re always on his side as he goes about a rather awkward path to finally finding the perfect girl.
On the other hand, you have Clara, the woman that Marty meets and falls for. It’s her demeanour and character that really sums up why this film is such a nice watch. Marty is a likable average Joe, while Clara is a very sweet and kind, albeit very reserved and shy woman. In that, the film isn’t idolising anything particularly shallow or generic in the romance genre, but instead detailing the blossoming of a very genuine and shy relationship that, although it’s not filled with great romantic gestures etc, is at heart an absolute delight to watch.
The two leads in Ernest Borgnine and Betsy Blair also do a great job at bringing these characters to life. Given that the film’s entire philosophy is simple and sweet, the two lead performances fit the bill perfectly. Again, there’s no romantic melodrama at any point, but rather excellent chemistry between two very likable and very convincing leads that allows their characters’ small-scale and shy romance to develop wonderfully throughout.
However, don’t think that this is just a light romance film to sit back and smile at, because it’s actually got a little more depth to it. Even though it is a delightful and relaxing watch, the film manages to delve into some of the issues facing the everyday man and woman in contemporary (1950s) middle America, centring on the clash between the older generation’s tradtional ways of doing things, and the younger generation’s new ideas.
Yes, there’s a lovely romance at the centre of the film, but the real emotional depth, and arguably the film’s more riveting side, comes from its portrayal of that culture clash, as Marty attempts to negotiate with his friends and family while he falls in love with a woman that many feel just isn’t good enough for him, something that’s not only interesting, but also really heartwarming to see.
Overall, I had a wonderful time with Marty. It’s a delightfully sweet and cute romantic drama, with genuine and simple emotion throughout that makes for a really pleasant watch, offering up a real change from the typical Hollywood fare and giving the little guy a movie of his own, which is why I’m giving it a 7.6.