Monday, 12 September 2011

"What you feel like doin' tonight?"

Hollywood always liked to remake films. Mostly from other countries – but now and then they would and will remake a television play – and the film I am going to talk about today once “was” such a television play. It’s pretty easy today – have a picture hint:

Once upon a time...

… playwright Paddy Chayefsky and director Delbert Mann were rehearsing in a hotel for THE RELUCTANT CITIZEN when Chayefsky spotted a sign and thought he was able to write a story from this. The sign said:

"Girls, dance with the man who asks you.
Remember, men have feelings, too.

So Chayefsky wrote a teleplay - which was aired in 1953 with Rod Steiger in the leading role and Nancy Marchand as his leading lady.

In 1955 - after some meanderings - Chayefsky as associate producer and Delbert Mann as director made a big screen film of it filmed in Samuel Goldwyn Studios, West Hollywood, California and at the Bronx, New York City, New York.

It would gain some Academy Awards - including the award for Best Picture. It also won the Palme d'Or at Cannes Film Festival - which made it the only other film to receive both awards besides THE LOST WEEKEND (1945).

Isn't it funny that today's film is also taking place on a single weekend?

You might already guessed it - I am rambling about:

MARTY (1955)

~ I love the look Ernest Borgnine delivers on this Italian poster.. ~

Here we have the US posters - one telling you just in the beginning what to think of it:

Here is a similar one - showing you what Dean Martin & Jerry Lewis, Danny Kaye, Charlton Heston and Jane Russell thought of it (seems like with this "cast" everyone has at least one to "listen to", huh? - sorry for not being able to post a bigger version of this poster..)

Another poster is showing Marty's problem:

- and here we have my absolute favourite poster for this film:

In a nutshell:

Marty Piletti (Ernest Borgnine) is a big-hearted not too handsome 34 year old bachelor who works as a butcher and lives with his mother Theresa (Esther Minciotti). Everyone keeps picking on him that he should get married – like all his younger siblings did.

~ Marty and his mother ~

Theresa’s sister Catharina (Augusta Ciolli) is living with her son Thomas (Jerry Paris), his wife Virginia (Karen Steele) and their new born baby in a small apartment and – well, they don’t go along very good. So decision is made: Catharina is going to live with Marty and Theresa in their big house.

Then Marty meets a girl: 29 year old Clara Snyder (Betsy Blair) – a kind of mousy teacher – living with her parents – and just dumped by a complete jerk ~ just saying.. ~ at the ballroom – because he met a girl he finds more attractive..

~ Knight without shining amour - and a damsel in distress. ~

Clara isn’t the kind of female Marty’s friends find attractive enough to spent time with – and Catharina keeps telling her sister that Marty soon won’t need her anymore..

~ Marty with friends on a lazy Sunday eve:
Angie (Joe Mantell) & Ralph (Frank Sutton) ~

So Marty has to make a decision: Is he going to do what everyone wants him to do – or will he see the girl again, who he likes and who likes him?

~ one of Hollywood's most likeable on-screen couples..~

Watch out for…

  • Paddy Chayefsky as Leo – he is sitting in the back of the car, when Marty is asked to leave Clara for ...well.. let me call it “a night of fun with three not so shy girls/nurses..” ... You’ll get the picture..
    Paddy Chayefsky is the one delievering the wonderful line:

"This guy is a nice guy - this guy."

~ honest - don't you just love that? ~

  • ... Joe Mantell as Angie - because he is really funny.. ;") - well, most of Marty's friends are.. in some ways..

~ Marty and Angie - not really about to take the town.. ~

  • Jerry Orbach - I was told that this film was his debut – he was one of the guests in the ballroom scene – actually I wasn’t yet able to spot him there - but I noticed that in there are mostly parties of two women and one man sitting at the tables..

  • Joi Lansing as cover model on the magazine Marty’s friends are studying.


  • First US film to be shown in USSR after WWII.

  • Apparently only film in film history which's advertising cost more than the production of it.

  • The film was produced by Burt Lancaster and Harold Hecht – there are rumors that they supposed to lose some money – as a tax-write-off.. ~ ..naughty, Mr. Lancaster.. ~

  • Betsy Blair was at that time Mrs. Gene Kelly.

  • Ernest Borgnine performed before with Burt Lancaster (who does not appear in MARTY - besides the trailer..) in FROM HERE TO ENTERNITY (1953) and VERA CRUZ (1954).

  • Joe Mantell, Augusta Ciolli and Esther Minciotti also appeared in the TV production of Marty two years before.

  • There were some objections against casting Ernest Borgnine as Marty because before this he mostly appeared as the bad guy.

  • Ernest Borgnine (who surprisingly looks a lot like Marty.. ahem..) was atually 5times married - though his 3rd marriage to Ethel Merman only lasted a few hours..

  • Rod Steiger declares that he rejected the part of Marty in this film because he would have had to work for years for Lancaster and Hecht – while Lancaster and Hecht were afraid that no one would pay money to see Rod Steiger doing the same part in cinema the audience saw before for free on TV...

    We’ll never know – but I for one am sure it was a good idea to cast Ernest Borgnine..

The winning team:

  • This film won Academy Awards

    Best Picture,
    Best Actor (Ernest Borgnine),
    Best Director (Delbert Mann)
    and Best Writing – Adapted Screenplay (Paddy Chayesfsky)

    – it was also nominated for

    Best Supporting Actor (Joe Mantell),
    Best Supporting Actress (Betsy Blair),
    Best Art-Direction-Set Decoration, B/W
    and Best Cinematography B/W.

  • Delbert Mann was the first director to win the Academy Award for Best Director with his debut film.

Never-ending story:

  • In 1971 MARTY was remade for Italian television with Renzo Palmer as Marty.

You should watch this film if you

… are or were single.. ;"p

… love your mother or have a tough time with her.

… are a wallflower.

… are/were the most popular person on the flirting grounds.

… like your cast “not too much looking like Hollywood” for a change.

… always had a soft spot for shy female teachers and leading men with a space width..

You’ll learn that

… “Micky Spillane sure can write.”

… “the stardust ballroom is loaded with tomatoes.”

… “those college girls are all one step from the street.”

Let's face the music:

The song MARTY was written by Harry Warren - the lyrics are by Paddy Chayefsky. You can hear it during the opening credits and sung in the end of the film - it is also played when Marty and Clara dance together for the first time.

Quotes corner:

“What are you gonna do if Marty gets married?”

I think this is not only a film about Marty and Clara and their generation and how they have trouble to find mates - it is also a film about another generation: The mothers.
The elder women who all their live worked for their children and suddenly have to face the fact that their children don't need them as much as before anymore. Women who learn that they seem to be always in the way of their children and their spouses like aunt Catharina. Women who notice that though they just want their children to be happy hurt them like Theresa hurts Marty.

But it's not Theresa who says this lines which are the red thread of this movie:

Marty, you oughta be ashamed of yourself. When you’ll get married?

Have a look:

~ here he is - Burt Lancaster - not appearing in the film.. ..but in the trailer.. ~

This film is about people who are afraid. Afraid of being hurt, left alone or just not being like they are supposed to be. I think most people can relate to that.
It really, really touches me – and when Marty gets the mitten by the girl he calls in the beginning – who apparently tells him that she hasn’t got time for him (– and won’t ever have..) I am each and every time getting teary-eyed. Ernest Borgnine is just sitting there with closed eyes – and I for one almost can feel the pain Marty is having.

Or later when he tells his mother that it doesn’t make any sense to go out for him because he was “fat and ugly”.. Oh boy! That man breaks my sweet little heart.

Look at it here:

Or when Clara gets dumped in the ballroom scene – luckily things like that never happened to me - which means I don’t really know how one feels in such a situation.

Nevertheless I think it’s disgusting to pay any guy "five bucks" who then is going to take care of your date. This is real bad manners – and I beg you to never hurt anyone like that. Of course it’s different when your date is a complete jerk… ;”p

~ Delbert Mann, Ernest Borgnine & Betsy Blair working with the script. ~

The scene in which Marty tries to kiss Clara against her will makes me feel a bit uncomfortable – like always when someone of the involved people isn’t feeling comfortable with the situation. And what gives me some not so nice thoughts is Marty's mentioning that he wouldn’t try anything serious with his mother coming back any minute – leads to the conclusion that he would when it wasn’t on behalf of his mother?? Oh, Marty...

I love that there is a girl turning to the camera waving when Clara and Marty a strolling down the street at night.. ;”) And though Marty obviously owns cigarettes I can’t remember a scene in which he actually smokes.

What I find most interesting about Betsy Blair is that she almost every time has kind of a gleam on her face – which could be due to perfect lighting or her very fair eyes.

I really love this film - and it's characters. It is one of my alltime favourites - and I also happen to adore the dialogues - I think they are partly remarkably funny.

This picture is for my friend Monty:

~ Grace Kelly presenting the Academy Award to Ernest Borgnine. ~

And at last - the picture which I really adore and which makes us all ask ourself:

~ Wouldn't you just love to have a partner with this mien? ;") ~

Thank you all for listening!

Yours (very well and) truly,

Irene - with a soft spot for wallflowers..


  1. Wow! Another impressive post Irene. I had no idea about all of this before you wrote this post. Thank you. And I love Marty. Haven't seen it in awhile but I remember it being a very good film. Very well made film and very well done post Irene.

  2. Thank you, Monty. Thank you very much.

  3. I stumbled onto your page by accident, as I just watched Marty for the first time, i was looking up stuff about it. You told the story very well & I really enjoyed your info & input on this movie!!! Loved the movie and your page, as Clara would say " very much". Thank you!

    1. Thank you so very much for your kind words, Becky! This film really is one of my favourites - and I am glad that you like it, too!

  4. Dear Irene. I'm back!! Just reread your page, how did you get all these nice pictures? You did a great job discribing all the scenes, you really nailed it when you said Betsys eyes seemed to gleam, they did! I think she really looks in love, such talent! One of my favorite scenes is when Marty introduces Clara to Angie, she is shyly looking at Marty, then she does the cutest look at him, oh yes, that look, I think I did to my husband
    when we were dating, you know like when you discover you like someone...a lot! Bye for now!:)

    1. Aww.. yes.. love that look.. Thank you so much for sharing this lovely memory of yours! :")

      and again: thank you for your kind words! The pictures are all from free sources. :")


I really appreciate your comments - I'll read them all and if I can think of an answer I'll post it. :")