For some odd reason, Marty is often overlooked when modern day film writers compile all-time best lists, even though it won both the Academy Award for Best Picture and the Palme d’Or the year it was released. (It was one of two films in the history of the medium to accomplish this feat.) Perhaps this is because Delbert Mann is not an auteur in the traditional sense of the word, but we must remember that Marty is a writer’s picture. The screenplay is by Paddy Chayefsky, who also penned the brilliant Network, and it is wholly wonderful. It delights in telling the story of a somewhat homely butcher in his mid-thirties who is plagued by a desperate desire to get married but is unable to get any dates. It takes place over the course of about two days during which Marty meets his female counterpart and must decide if she’s worth pursuing, because his friends call her “a dog”. Ernest Borgnine gives a celebrated performance here in a role that is completely off-type. The main character is so well drawn, and the whole of the film is heartbreaking and earnest, especially in its little details. There is a conversation at the midpoint of the film that gives the audience a beautiful glimpse of what the future could be for these two, should they have enough courage to attempt it. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a better, more human love story.
|One of the most poignant first dates in all of film.|