I love the Academy Awards and last year I realized how few of the “Best Picture” winners I’d actually seen. So I made it a goal to see all 83 winners and blog my thoughts about them along the way.

Why did it win? Should another movie have won instead? Has it become a beloved classic or do many of you not even recognize the title? I invite you, my friends and guests, to comment along with me. Do you agree/disagree? I should be fair and place a SPOLIER ALERT on this blog since I’ll be writing about various parts of the movie. So read at your own risk…

I have often told people that I have movie amnesia… I can see a movie and forget all about it years later. So for that reason, I am re-watching the 27 I’ve seen before. That said, if no one visits or reads my blog and I basically perform the online equivalent of talking to a brick wall, that’s fine; if for nothing else, it’ll be my own reminder. Enjoy!

And the Oscar goes to…

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Marty, 1955

Not Rated

Coming in at 90 minutes, “Marty” is the shortest Best Picture winner in Oscar history. It was also the first winning film that was based on a play written for and previously produced on television, which makes sense because it has the feel of a made-for-TV movie. It is definitely not your typical Oscar winner; it’s a pretty pedestrian film. We’d probably call it a “dramedy” now. The whole story takes place in two days sometime in the early ‘50s. Marty, a heavyset Italian butcher and bachelor from the Bronx, is played by Ernest Borgnine. (I didn’t even recognize him as the mean sergeant Fatso in “From Here to Eternity”!... which was good or else he wouldn’t have appeared so endearing to me.)

There’s not a whole lot I can say about this film since it’s not too deep, but here’s the gist. From the beginning, we see that Marty is getting pressure from everybody (his mother, his siblings, even his customers) to settle down and get married. I mean, c’mon, he’s 34 and even his kid brothers have gotten married! It immediately reminded me of that line in “My Big Fat Greek Wedding” when Tula’s father tells her, “You’re starting to look old… you better get married soon.” Poor Marty admits he wants to get married but he just hasn’t found the right girl. He explains to his Ma, “One fact I gotta face is that, whatever it is that women like, I ain't got it.” Over dinner, he gets pressure from his Ma to go to a night club where supposedly there are lots of “tomatoes” (a word given to her by her other son). He ends up meeting a plain-Jane school teacher (I won’t tell you how) and talks her ear off all night.

When the scene cut to the school teacher’s entrance into the club, her friend asks, “Aren’t you afraid of one of your students seeing you here?” I laughed out loud because, being an ex-teacher myself, I used to think along the same lines. What if one of my students caught me walking into this R-rated movie? And as students, we never wanted to admit that our teachers had lives outside of the classroom. No, they don’t go shopping or eat out at restaurants; they live at their desks.

The interesting conundrum is Marty’s Ma. She has been complaining that her son (who still lives with her) needs to get married. That’s the thing to do- the normal progression of life. But then she has a talk with her older sister who is getting kicked out of her son and daughter-in-law’s house for being too annoying. Her older sister basically says she should count her blessings because who is going to take care of her once Marty marries and moves out? She is a widow and she’ll have no one left “to cook for and clean up after” (because that’s the only thing Moms are good for, right?). So, after Marty’s Ma meets the girl he talked to all night, she starts warning him that she’s so plain and boring, so what’s the rush? He gets the same reaction from his friends the next day and starts to fall back into the same rut. “What do you wanna do tonight?” “I don’t know what do you wanna do tonight?”… UNTIL he comes to his senses (at the very end of the film).

It is considered one of the weakest line-ups for Best Picture in Oscar history, so I guess it’s no huge surprise that it won. “Marty” was up against “Love is a Many-Splendored Thing”, “Mister Roberts”, “Picnic”, and “The Rose Tattoo”. I haven’t seen any of the others but if “Marty” was the best of those five, I think I’ll pass on renting them. I’m not saying I wasn’t entertained, because I was. It’s just not a strong referral for the other films. It was nominated for 8 awards and won 4 including Best Actor, Director, and Screenplay. Ernest was up against James Dean for Best Actor, who was the first actor to be nominated posthumously since he died tragically in a car accident 6 months earlier. (If anyone has seen the movie he was in, “East of Eden”, I’d like to hear reviews… I think it sounds interesting.)

A couple of “dogs” (a surprising term Marty refers to themselves as since they’re not attractive):

A cool behind-the-scenes shot I found:


When Marty finally decides to man-up, he goes to give the girl a call. Before he does, his friend starts to give him a hard time, and he yells back at him, “All I know is I had a good time last night. I'm gonna have a good time tonight. If we have enough good times together, I'm gonna get down on my knees. I'm gonna beg that girl to marry me.”


Don’t let others persuade or dissuade you when your heart is telling you otherwise.

Along those lines, don’t let others pressure you. If time is what you need, take all the time you want. Don’t rush into things, especially if they’re life-altering decisions.

You usually find what you need when you stop looking for it. While this cliché usually applies to love, I find it’s most true when I’m clothes shopping. I can never find a specific article I’m hunting for when I need it. But give me a free day of shopping with nothing on my list, and I’ll find everything!

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