”See, dogs like us, we ain't such dogs as we think we are.”
A 1955 film directed by Delbert Mann and co-produced by Burt Lancaster
was based off a telefilm by Paddy Chayefsky
, who also wrote the screenplay. It was the Star-Making Role
for Ernest Borgnine
, which earned him an Oscar for Best Actor. The film also won Best Picture and earned its director and writer Oscars.
Marty Pilletti is a butcher who lives with his mother. At 35, he's resigned himself to a lifetime of bachelorhood while his siblings have families of their own. Everything changes when he meets Clara, a schoolteacher who has also resigned herself to never finding love. Through each other, they find happiness.
This film features examples of:
- Arc Words: Variations throughout on "What do you wanna do tonight?", reinforcing the aimlessness of Marty and his friends and the rut that Marty's stuck in.
- Book Ends: At the beginning, all the old ladies buying meat from Marty at the butcher shop pester him about getting married, saying "You should be ashamed of yourself" for still being single. At the end, Marty says the same thing to Angie before calling Clara.
- Catch Phrase: Marty frequently shouts “Perfect” and “Fantastic.”
- Dances and Balls: Marty meets Clara at a dance hall for single folks.
- Kitchen Sink Drama: A simple story of a lonely butcher who finds a chance for love with a schoolteacher.
- Maybe Ever After / No Ending: Marty finally gets angry at Angie and his other friends for badmouthing Clara. He says "If we have enough good times together, I'm gonna get down on my knees. I'm gonna beg that girl to marry me." He calls Clara, and she picks up the phone. The End.
- My Beloved Smother: Aunt Catherine bugs her daughter-in-law so much that the daughter-in-law insists she move in with Marty and his mom. After Aunt Catherine gets Mrs. Pilletti scared about being abandoned, Mrs. Pilletti becomes a similar My Beloved Smother for Marty.
- Plain Jane: Clara. Marty himself is a male version.
- The Pollyanna: Marty. Despite not being married, he still thinks positively.
- The Remake: Of a 1953 live television movie starring Rod Steiger and Nancy Marchand. The actors who played Marty's mother and aunt and his best friend Angie reprised their roles from the teleplay.
- Springtime for Hitler: Was produced as a real-life example of this. Borgnine and his producer pal, Burt Lancaster, decided to make the film, thinking it would flop, and use it as a tax-write off. It became a smash hit and won Borgnine the Oscar.
- Video Credits