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Marty Piletti is the most famous butcher in film history. A simple guy from the Bronx who knows that "whatever it is that women like, I don't got it," he's facing a lifetime of loneliness living with his mother and hanging out with his unmarried friends every night. Then he forces himself to attend a dance at the Stardust Ballroom where he meets Clara, a Brooklyn schoolteacher who's been dumped by her date. As they commiserate, he discovers a warm caring heart in this rejected woman, only to find his mother and friends don't think she's good enough for him. Can he stand up for the woman he loves or will he sacrifice his future to comply with peer pressure?


Director: Delbert Mann
Producer: Harold Hecht, Burt Lancaster
Screenplay: Paddy Chayefsky
Adapted from his television play
Cinematography: Joseph LaShelle
Editing: Alan Crosland, Jr.
Art Direction: Ted Haworth, Walter M. Simonds
Music: Roy Webb
Cast: Ernest Borgnine (Marty Piletti), Betsy Blair (Clara), Joe Mantell (Angie), Esther Minciotti (Mrs. Piletti), Karen Steele (Virginia), Jerry Paris (Tommy), Augusta Ciolli (Aunt Catherine), Paddy Chayefsky (Leo), Jerry Orbach (Ballroom Extra), Glenn Strange (Bit), Minerva Urecal (Mrs. Rosari)
BW -90 m.

Why MARTY is Essential

Marty was the first major Hollywood film adapted from a television play. After years during which the studios fought competition from the small screen, producers Harold Hecht and Burt Lancaster showed the big studios that they could use their competitors as a source of scripts and even talent, as demonstrated when they hired the show's original writer, director and some cast members.

The film also marked the rising prominence of low-budget, independent production. Its high profit margin and Oscar® success pointed to a future in which independent producers could create a stir without the backing of the major studios' contract talent or publicity machines.

After years of losing upscale audiences to art houses featuring more realistic, small-scale films from overseas, Marty showed that American filmmakers could work in that vein as well, setting the stage for the increasing prominence of independent production in the U.S. and similar films from such major studios as MGM and 20th Century-Fox. Cementing the U.S.'s position as a competitor with European art-house productions was the film's win at the Cannes Film Festival, which had not named an American film as its best in ten years.

Although it did not bring huge profits to United Artists, it helped build the studio's reputation as a haven for daring independent producers. By the '50s, the studio had seen the decline of most of its major producers, including David O. Selznick and co-founder Charles Chaplin. With the success of Marty, however, UA became the first stop for independent producers out to turn their dreams into reality.

The film brought television writer Paddy Chayefsky to the big screen. This was the first of his television plays adapted to the movies, followed soon after by The Catered Affair (1956) and The Bachelor Party (1957). He would become the first writer to win three Best Screenplay Oscars® without benefit of a collaborator, winning for Marty, The Hospital (1971) and Network (1976). That feat would later be matched by Woody Allen.

One of the film's most realistic elements is the casting. Producers Hecht and Lancaster eschewed Hollywood names and big-screen glamour to cast relative unknowns in most of the roles. In addition, they cast character actor Ernest Borgnine in the title role. The film's box office success and his Oscar® win for Best Actor made Borgnine one of the first Hollywood stars since the early '30s to make it on talent rather than looks, setting the stage for later unconventional film stars like Dustin Hoffman and Barbra Streisand.

Marty was one of the first films whose producers campaigned extensively for the Academy Awards®. Producer Harold Hecht in particular lavished money on an advertising campaign and screening parties in private homes -- for which he provided prints, projectionists and refreshments. When the film won Best Picture it set the standard for Oscar® campaigns that continues to this day.

By Frank Miller

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