Marty (1955)

(On Cable TV, January 2018) The long list of Best Film Oscar-winning movies is definitely skewed toward big pictures: Big themes, big budgets, big actors. But there are exceptions, and Marty feels like one of the outliers. Not much more than a small-scale romantic drama in which a not-so-young man dares to come of age, this is a low-key film that works best in details. Good dialogue (by the legendary Paddy Chayefsky) brings the characters to life, blessed by good grounded performances by actors such as Ernest Borgnine and Betsy Blair. Borgnine, in particular, is a revelation in a performance that breaks from his later tough-guy persona. Much of the film takes place in small apartments or in the streets of The Bronx, without too many dramatic flourishes. The result is striking in its own way, and having won the Oscar ensures that low-key low-budget Marty will remain seen for decades to come.

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