Marty (1953)

I reviewed the cinema version of Marty in January last year, at which time I said I wanted to get my hands on the Criterion Golden Age of Television box containing the original TV version. This I have now done, and we shall be exploring said box over the next few days, starting with Marty, as originally broadcast a couple of years before the film was made, and featuring the not insignificant casting difference of Rod Steiger in the title role. Thinking back on the film, I recall Ernest Borgnine being very good as Marty, and Delbert Mann concedes in his DVD commentary here (which is really worth listening to) that the producer of the film version was probably right to have ordered Paddy Chayefsky to tone down some of Marty’s self-pity for the big screen and cast Borgnine in the role… but looking at this small-screen version, I also recall a certain… bluntness? Is that the word? I don’t know, but Borgnine’s Marty strikes me as having been a lot heavier in some way than Steiger’s; the TV Marty has a totally different sort of emotiveness than I remember from the film, and that comes down largely to Steiger, I think, it’s a different way of playing the character. On the whole it felt more real to me somehow, I coul relate a bit better to Marty himself (being as I am a guy with no obvious prospects about to hit 37 and all that). And I was fascinated by the whole live TV aspect, too, though I don’t recall any overt flubs (Mann’s commentary picks up on one or two things he wishes could’ve been done better). I’m still a bit puzzled by its success, to be honest, but I did feel the shorter TV version of the story resonate a bit more than the big-screen version did.

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