An appreciation to Marty (1955)
It seems that the legends of Hollywood are slowly fading and for the past few weeks it was filled with grief and shock,recently the industry was shocked by Peter O’Toole’s retirement from acting. It was still suffering from the shock of Ernest Borgnine’s passing.
To be frank I did not know that movie actually existed until I heard about Borgnine’s death and many acclaimed that Marty was perhaps the best acting role Borgnine have even taken. So I am pretty lucky to find this copy at the library and boy I came surprised. I was a little teary on the inside and I clapped at the end of the film. So I will flesh about why this film deserved to be in the same spot as the most famous counterparts in 1954.
1954-it was the year of the best Hollywood classics,you have the mystery of Hitchcock’s Rear Window,Marlon Brando’s acting in On The Waterfront (Remind me to watch this). For the arthouse films,we have Kurosawa’s Seven Samurai and Fellini’s heartwrenching La Strada. Yup it was great,but Marty stood out for me in a good way was its down-to earth story. Yes screenwriters always have that problem as seen in a conversation from Barton Fink (1991)
Charlie: I could tell you some stories…
Barton: Sure you could and yet many writers do everything in their power to insulate themselves from the common man, from where they live, from where they trade, from where they fight and love and converse and…
Barton: So naturally their work suffers and regresses into empty formalism and… well I’m spouting off again, but to put it in your language, the theatre becomes as phony as a three-dollar bill!
Charlie: Well I guess that’s a tragedy right there!
However Chayefsky managed to create the human emotion in his story,look at Marty-well he is no handsome smooth-talking Jimmy Stewart or jolly Gene Kelly. He is just a butcher who have insecurities with himself. We could relate at him in a personal level,sometimes I wonder if I am worthy of myself. That is what a screenwriter is supposed to do is getting the audience to cheer for the man. Even Chayefsky recalled in a memoir of conceiving Marty.
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…
I want to say “Thank God” that they did not make the ending,a typical Hollywood “Happily Ever After” stuff. If they did the reunion of Marty and Clarie. It would not create such an impact to me. I would leave the place bitter-handed. Instead they leave the audience in suspense by Marty going to the phone booth at the restaurant and called Claire.
Borgnine is brilliantly executed the part of Marty so nicely,he just got that face and emotion to portray the ‘common man’ so loevly. To me the golden moment was when he confessed to Claire (Betsey Blair) that he loved her. It was that expression of such happiness and yet sorrow that was frickin’ beautiful.
The theme of relationships was beautifully executed,it shows how afraid we are to leave our parents’ insight after we are married whenever it was negative like Thomas reculantly kicked his mother out,or Claire’s fear for her father’s wellbeing. The reason why Marty does not want to marry as he was afraid to commit to a relationship. It was that push of the objection of friends and family that he wanted to pursue Claire.
Of course may I add that it won 4 Oscars for 1955 Academy awards including Best Actor? I also added that it was added to the archives in 1994.I feel that the reason why it was not appreciated because it was overshadowed by its most famous counterparts like “Rear Window” or “La Strada” because of its simplicity . Or perhaps it may not stay well in the test of time? I am surprised that it was not that well-received because it was so relatable and the script is amazing.
I find it hard to conclude about its appeal but I found this quote from the article “Andy Griffith and Ernest Borgnine: Remembering each of their greatest performances. One of them may be the most startling Hollywood movie you’ve never seen”
The beauty of Marty is that Ernest Borgnine made you believe that one man’s impetuous decision to splurge on a taxi cab could be nothing less than a soul reborn.
It was perhaps Borgnine’s performance that could transform the simplistic story to something endearing and perhaps we should take that time to appreciate that little gem.
RIP Ernest Borgnine-1917-2012