Short and Sweet

Marty is the shortest movie to ever win Best Picture. It’s no secret that the Academy Awards prefers films with an extended 2-3 hour runtime. As if a good story can’t be told in a short amount of time. Marty is not only a great story, but they manage to tell it in only 1 hour & 30 minutes. It’s short because Marty was originally written as a 51 minute teleplay for The Philco Television Playhouse. First time director Delbert Mann took over the project and won Best Director. Meanwhile, Paddy Chayefsky won Best Adapted Screenplay for his own story. Marty was so impactful that it ended up winning the first Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival.

Marty is refreshingly simple and gets right to the point. Marty Piletti is a 34 year old Italian American Catholic butcher living in the Bronx with his mother. Right off the bat it’s made clear that Marty is a lonely man afraid he’ll never get married because of how he looks. Marty speaks to me on a personal level. Such an unconventional lead was played sincerely by the late great Ernest Borgnine in a Best Actor winning performance. Marty finally meets someone at a ballroom dance. Clara is a shy school teacher who’s no more attractive than he is. Betsy Blair is just as sincere with their simple romance that plays out over the course of one night.

At first awkward, Marty and Clara manage to connect through their families, aspirations, and similar experiences. Marty is only made longer with subplots that mirror Marty’s budding relationship. Marty’s mother fears her son will leave since his aunt is forced to move out of his brother’s house. Marty’s brother has relationship problems with his sister-in-law. Then there’s Marty’s friend Angie and drinking buddies who are content with their party lifestyle. All of them call Clara a dog, but Marty finally realizes he’s crazy to care what anyone else thinks. A valuable lesson that ends the movie where it needs to. Marty is short and sweet.


Marty and Clara meet his mother

2 thoughts on “Short and Sweet

  1. Ernest Borgnine was the most surprised of anyone that he won the Oscar for Best Actor, he really thought James Dean would get a posthumous win for East of Eden or Rebel Without a Cause, making his excitement much bigger. He really deserved the win too, showing the world the Everyman on camera. In a way, Marty was the first Indie film win Oscars as it was produced outside of the Studio System under Burt Lancaster’s company.

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