Marty (1955)

MartyHow strange to imagine such a small picture like this could not only be nominated for Best Picture at the Oscars, but that it could win it as well, especially when you consider the other Best Pictures from the years surrounding it. Or indeed its competitors that same year; here were these much bigger films, beaten off by this little film adapted from a TELEVISION PLAY of all things. I’ve not seen the 1953 live TV version (though I do want to get the new Criterion set which contains it), but what did intrigue me was how easy I found it to imagine what I was seeing been done live on TV. It was kind of odd, almost distractingly so, there was something about it that both was and wasn’t theatrical, not sure if I can describe it any better than that… And though I know it’s praised for its naturalism, I have to admit to finding it kind of artificial, especially some of the dialogue situations, Marty’s mother and her sister especially, all the terrible age to be still alive stuff… something about it didn’t ring true for me, it sat uneasily with the basic situation it depicts, of a group of 30-something men at a loose end in their lives, of one of them suddenly finding more than just emptiness in his. It’s good, it’s nice, Ernest Borgnine is terrific in the lead role, it’s kind of slight, I don’t think I really need to see it again, and I’m still a bit perplexed by its Oscar victory.

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