The term Oscar bait has only truly come to prevalence in recent years, but the idea of bios, war dramas or sweeping epics having a leg up on the competition is nearly as old as the Oscars themselves. Of course, there are always a couple of exceptions, one of which is celebrating its 60th anniversary in 2015, the Ernest Borgnine starrer “Marty.”
Written by Paddy Chayefsky and directed by Delbert Mann, “Marty” tells the story of a middle-age butcher (Borgnine) and a school teacher (Betsy Blair) who have all but given up on love until they meet each other at a dance. Simple enough, in fact “Marty” is akin to Richard Linklater’s “Before” trilogy as there is a large part of the film where we simply follow Borgnine and Blair as they talk and find out more about each other. It’s a sweet little film that had a resounding effect on not only the academy, but all over the world as well.
“Marty” was an official selection at the eight ever Cannes Film Festival among films like George Seaton’s “The Country Girl,” Edward Dmytryk’s “The End of the Affair” and Elia Kazan’s “East of Eden.” But at the end of the day “Marty” took home the Palme d’Or. “Marty” was the second film to win Cannes’ top prize as well as Best Picture; it was also the last to do so.
Now speaking of Oscars, “Marty” took home four (out of eight nominations) during the 1956 ceremony, including Picture, Director for Mann, Screenplay for Chayefsky (his first of his three), and Actor for Borgnine. “Marty” also holds the record as the shortest film to ever win Best Picture.
Sharing the Best Picture honor in the 50s with films like “From Here to Eternity,” “On the Waterfront,” “Bridge on the River Kwai” and “Ben-Hur” it’s not hard to understand why “Marty” gets overlooked. But the film is a true hidden gem and fits right alongside those other films. Much like its protagonist, “Marty” may not look all that special at first glance, it really is a special film and one that certainly stands the test of time.