Click here to return to the main site.

Blu-ray Review

DVD cover

Marty (1955)
(Blu-Ray & DVD Dual Format)


Starring: Ernest Borgnine, Betsy Blair, Joe Mantell, Frank Sutton, Karen Steele and Jerry Paris
Distributor: Eureka Entertainment
RRP: £17.99 (Blu-Ray & DVD Dual Format)
Certificate: U
Release Date: 09 April 2018

The 1950’s were a tough time for Hollywood, the golden age of the forties had come to the end with the advent of television. Hollywood hit back with the two things which television could not offer, colour and scale. While this was the period of big budget extravaganzas, the industry was also mindful that these would not be the only types of films an increasingly adult audience would like to see. So, begun the birth of what became to be known as the ‘small movies’. These were often made with low budgets and shown through art house cinemas before being sent for general release.

Marty (B&W. 1955. 1 hr, 29 min, 34 sec) is a small-scale drama, written by Paddy Chayefsky and directed by Delbert Mann. The film won four Oscars, as well as another fifteen awards and had a further five nomination. The commercial and critical success of the movie encouraged studios to invest in more ‘small movies’.

The film follows in the same tradition of Italian neo-realism, the same concern for telling stories of ordinary working-class people which would find its counterpart in the British Kitchen sink realism of the nineteen sixties. Their relative low expense meant that it didn’t really hurt the studios pockets if the film failed to make a return, but occasionally a gem like Marty might just come along.

The story is simplicity itself. Marty lives at home with his mother the last child in a large family. He works at a butcher shop and dreams of meeting a woman. Given his success and lack of good looks this has been a painful and frustrating endeavour. Following encouragement by his overbearing Italian mother he attends a dance where he meets Clara. The film takes place within just over a twenty-four-hour period, basically from his morning in the shop, to the evening at the dance and the resolution the following morning.

Given the relationship between television and the film studios it is more remarkable that the film is based on a 1953 television play which originally starred Rod Steiger and Nancy Marchand with the same director and writer. This remake has Ernest Borgnine and Betsy Blair and is probably some of Borgnine's best work, so little wonder that he won the best actor in the Oscars, the Golden Globes, the BAFTA, the New York Film Critics Circle Awards and the National Board of Review, USA.

The DVD has a decent copy of the film but given its age there are some limitations. There is a surprising lack of damage to the print and it looks like it has gone through some restoration. Within the extras you get the whole original television play (51 min, 37 sec) with Steiger and Marchand. Steiger brings an intensity to the role, but Borgnine can bring forward Marty’s vulnerability. The play can be played with English subtitles. The quality is very variable and there does not appear to be any attempt at restoration.

You also get interviews with the director and some of the cast of the original television play (5 min, 44 sec). Penultimately, there is a presentation by film professor, Neil Sinyard (19 min, 05 sec) who discusses the importance of the film. Lastly, you have the original theatrical trailer (2 min, 58 sec) introduced by Burt Lancaster.

It’s an interesting piece of film history and certainly one for fans of Borgnine.


Charles Packer

Buy this item online

Each of the store links below opens in a new window, allowing you to compare the price of this product from various online stores.

Blu-ray & DVD