Saturday, May 24, 2014
2014 Cannes Marathon: Marty
(Winner of the Palme d’Or at the 1955 Cannes Film Festival)
Directed by Delbert Mann and written by Paddy Chayefsky, Marty is the story about a lonely butcher whose life changes when he falls in love with a woman much to the dismay of his family and friends. The film is an exploration into a man trying to make changes in his life as he is played by Ernest Borgnine. Also starring Betsy Blair, Joe Mantell, Karen Steele, and Jerry Paris. Marty is an extraordinary film from Delbert Mann.
Told in the span of 48 hours, the film explores the life of a lonely butcher who is in his mid-30s and is convinced that he will never marry as he still lives with his mother (Esther Minciotti) while his younger siblings have already married. On one night where he reluctantly goes out, he meets a 29-year old schoolteacher named Clara (Betsy Blair) who came to the dancehall on a blind date as she and Marty would spend much of the night talking as friends wonder where he is while Marty’s mother would briefly meet Clara as it would play to all of her doubts about this young woman. It’s a film that plays into a man and a woman who both seem to have given up on the idea of a future until they meet and become comfortable with one another.
While Paddy Chayefsky’s script doesn’t have much of a plot, it makes up for it with its very strong dialogue as it explores Marty’s reluctance to go out as he been rejected numerous of times. At the urging of his mother and cousin Tommy (Jerry Paris), Marty would go to the Stardust dancehall with his friend Angie (Joe Mantell) as it’s another night of being rejected and such. Clara would arrive on a blind date as her date would leave her for another woman as the guy had earlier asked Marty to take her home for $5 which Marty refused. Marty would look at Clara as she left to go outside as he asked her to dance. While Marty nor Clara are the most attractive people in the room, they do manage to have personality as well as share their own anxieties about leaving their parents and move on to do something as adults.
There is also a subplot in the film as it relates to Tommy’s mother Catherine (Augusta Ciolli) who doesn’t get along with her daughter-in-law Virginia (Karen Steele) as Tommy asks Marty and his mother if his Catherine can stay with them. It would play into the idea about what if Marty did find someone as Catherine would put some thoughts into her sister’s head. Just as Marty seemed to have the best night of his life and a hopeful future, his mother and his friends would try to put doubts into his head.
Delbert Mann’s direction is pretty simple as it doesn’t play to any sense of style in favor of something more engaging in its approach to drama. Particularly as he shoots the film entirely on location in the Bronx while adding something that felt like audiences can relate to. Most of the compositions include a lot of medium shots and close-ups as Mann maintains that sense of intimacy in the direction as well as create some melodrama that isn’t too over-the-top. There are bits of humor such as Marty constantly talking and apologizing for talking so much as it is this nice mix of humor and light drama. Yet, the drama would become prevalent in the final moments as family and friends try to put doubt into Marty’s newfound happiness as it’s ending is a powerful one. Overall, Mann creates a very rich and captivating film about a lonely man finding hope in a woman who shares his own idea on loneliness.
Cinematographer Joseph LaShelle does excellent work with the black-and-white cinematography to play into the look of the interior and exterior scenes at night with its array of stylish lighting. Editor Alan Crosland Jr. does nice work with the editing as it’s mostly straightforward yet effective in its approach to drama while using a few transitional wipes for stylistic reasons. Art directors Ted Haworth and Walter M. Simonds, with set decorator Robert Priestly, do fantastic work with the set pieces from the look of the house Marty and his mother live in to the dancehall where he meets Clara.
Costume designer Norma Koch does terrific work with the costumes from the suit that Marty wears to the plain dress that Clara wears. Sound recorders Roger Heman Sr. and John K. Kean do superb work with the sound from the way the dancehall sounds to the quieter moments in the streets of the Bronx. The film’s music by Roy Webb is wonderful for its somber orchestral music to play into some of the drama as well as some upbeat pieces for the humor as it also features some jazz pieces in the film.
The film’s marvelous cast includes some notable performances from Augusta Ciolli as Marty’s very annoyed aunt Catherine, Esther Minciotti as his mother who ponders about being alone as she would briefly meet Clara, Jerry Paris as Marty’s accountant cousin Tommy who is a mama’s boy, Karen Steele as Tommy’s wife Virginia who wants to have her own life with Tommy and their newborn son, and Joe Mantell as Marty’s friend Angie who always try to set up him with girls only to find himself all alone when Marty meets Clara. Betsy Blair is amazing as Clara as this shy, plain schoolteacher who reluctantly accepts a blind date while finding someone in Marty that she can be comfortable with as it gives her some hope. Finally, there’s Ernest Borgnine in a remarkable performance as the titular character as this man who had been through enough rejection and heartache as he finally meets his soul mate in one unlikely night as it gives him hope and also ideas of what he wants to do with his future as it’s Borgnine at his best.
Marty is an excellent film from Delbert Mann that features an incredible performance from Ernest Borgnine in the titular role. Along with a wonderful supporting performance from Betsy Blair and Paddy Chayefsky’s screenplay, it’s a film that explores loneliness and the fear of adulthood while also being a hopeful film. In the end, Marty is a superb film from Delbert Mann.
© thevoid99 2014
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The story is probably not the most groundbreaking, still, that movie just puts a smile on my face.
It was a last-minute addition to the marathon as I decided to see it as I really enjoyed it. Especially for its ending.
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