My current Top 5

My current Top 5


Number 64: Marty (Best Picture Ranking)

Prior to Marty, Best Picture winners were On the Waterfront, From Here to Eternity, The Greatest Show on Earth and An American in Paris and after Marty came Around the World in 80 Days, The Bridge on the River Kwai, Gig and Ben-Hur – it’s rather surprising to find a little, innocent and good-hearted love-story as the champion of 1955.

Marty is a little movie that depends on the two central actors. It doesn’t have any action scenes, no impressive score, no lush cinematography – it’s as little as a movie can be. This makes Marty a rather difficult movie to judge – it presents the love story between two lost and lonely souls in the most captivating and heart-warming way and there is so little happening that, basically, little could have gone wrong. But does that mean that it achieved its goal perfectly? Not really. Even though it didn’t take any risks and always played it safe, there are still some problems in the production.

Marty was Hollywood’s early journey into the world of realism – maybe because it deals with the simple problems of simple people but Marty never lets the viewers forget that this is still Hollywood’s version of realism. A realism in which a woman like Betsy Blair is considered a ‘dog’ and in which two people still fall in love in one night. But there is a fairy-tale like core in Marty that helps it to make this whole story believable and touching without overly romantic. And this is thanks to Ernest Borgnine and Betsy Blair who both inhabit their parts with dignity and a moving honesty. Especially Ernest Borgnine is the pillar that carries Marty – basically, he is Marty. Not just the character but also the movie. He perfectly displays his character’s worries and desperation, his feelings of being worthless while at the same time keeping a strangely cheery inside, as long as he is around people he is comfortable with. Betsy Blair may not be more than the object of affection but her quiet portrayal and her chemistry with Borgnine that is never sexual but always remains an innocent first step of falling in love become the emotional centre of the story.

Apart from these two actors, Marty unfortunately doesn’t offer a lot. The subplot with Marty’s brother feels more distracting than anything else and in a movie that offers so little plot, every problem in the structure becomes much more obvious than it usually would. And so it feels very constructed and forced that Marty’s mother, who always wanted her son to find the right woman, changes her mind about this just exactly the same night Marty finally meets his right woman. This may bring some drama to the plot before the end but it feels like a cheap trick that doesn’t work with the overall tone of the story.

Whenever Marty focuses on Borgnine and Blair, it shines. Otherwise, it looses that special touch and often feels strangely empty. It can be a little jewel when it wants to be and it’s refreshing to see such a small film take home the Oscar but at the same time the whole concept of two people falling in love without anything else isn’t enough to carry Marty to a higher position in this ranking.


Louis Morgan said...

I like the film, not an amazing achievement but certainly good.

dinasztie said...

This is a fantastic movie, in my opinion. Heartwrenching performance by Borgnine.