Critic Consensus: Scriptwriter Paddy Chayefsky's solid dialogue is bolstered by strong performances from Ernest Borgnine and Betsy Blair in this appealingly low-key character study.
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Critic Reviews for Marty
It is a sentimental, heart-warming, simple story of a couple of ugly ducklings who find compensation for their lack of good looks in each other's love.
Ernest Borgnine as Marty lives up to all the promise he showed as the sadist in From Here to Eternity, and at the same time brilliantly shatters the type-cast he molded for himself in that picture.
It's a warm, human, sometimes sentimental and an enjoyable experience.
Paddy Chayevsky's script, adapted from his own TV play, shows his flair for dialogue at its best, and the film manages to be touching, if minor.
Audience Reviews for Marty
Do you remember all of those movies in the 1990's about someone who didn't know what they wanted to be or where they wanted to go. There was an emphasis on just hanging out and killing time until the next day to start again or the work their way into the next weekend of killing time until Monday. Marty stands as the originator of this type of plot where a young man has stayed with his mother beyond his years and is just following the current that is life. The film stars Ernest Borgnine as the title character, a butcher who lives with his mother and hangs out with his buddies at night and on weekends. Even with all of these people in his life, Marty is lonely. He longs to be with a girl; a nice girl. As the film proceeds we follow Marty as he attempts to begin relationships with females that are mainly acquaintances, ships floating by in the dead of the night that you may wonder where they traveled after your encounter, but you'll never see them again. What happens next is the "when you least expect it" notion kicks in and Marty meets Clara (Betsy Blair) who he becomes enchanted with, even though Clara goes against the world that Marty has created for himself. Borgnine's performance is on par with some of the best work of the 1950's, going well beyond the norms of the era. When Marty is shot down, lonely, excited, you feel it in his performance. You come along on this ride with Marty and it is an emotional roller coaster. It's a portrayal that will stay with you long after seeing this film. It's a masterpiece of a performance that won Borgnine a well deserved Academy Award. Those feelings go hand in hand with what you feel as a viewer, particularly when Marty and Clara begin their courtship. You feel those feelings that a person experiences when they meet a person and they like that person, spending hours with them just talking or walking or whatever because it doesn't matter. You just want to be with that person. It's a hard feeling to describe and it is something that comes up when reminiscing about that first meeting, but it's a universal feeling that a person holds onto throughout the rest of their life. Marty captures that moment perfectly. I can't think of a film that displays that moment and those feelings like Marty does. Usually they end up in slapstick like blah. There is not gimmick or pratfall. This is just two people falling for each other. Marty is a best picture winner and coming from a time when epics and big names usually won the big prize Marty is a nice little breath of fresh air. It still holds the record as the shortest Best Picture.
Paddy Chavefsky's script is a joy in this seemingly simple tale about two "ugly"people finding safe harbor in each other (there's even a hilarious minor side trip that critiques popular detective author Mickey Spillane!). Great performances throughout.
A lonely bachelor, socially tortured for being single, falls for a schoolteacher he meets at a dance hall. Ernest Borgnine, insecurities fully on display, gives a lovely, vulnerable performance in the titular role in this warm, positive film. The plot is fairly simple, but the film is tightly written and directed with no wasted time. I think what I enjoyed most about the film was Paddy Chayefsky's script. In my younger days, I had conversations with delightful young ladies that lasted the whole night, and while I can never remember what we talked about, I can often remember the feeling of connection and the joy of talking. Chayefsky's scenes in which Marty and Clara are meeting for the first time and getting to know each other seem natural and sweet, and he captures that feeling of connection in way that is true without sacrificing the need to keep the conversation interesting for the audience. Perhaps Richard Linklater watched this film while writing his Before films. Overall, this isn't a film that will set the world on fire, but it might warm a heart or two.