Another great has left us. Ernest Borgnine died on Sunday. When I heard, my immediate thought was of his film, “Marty.” Run and get it, if you have not seen it.
I remember first seeing “Marty” on the television Saturday Afternoon Matinee movie. Being a young woman, all filled with ideas of romantic action-heros–my favorite at the time being John Wayne–I did not much appreciate the movie. Yet, something about it stuck in memory. This says a lot about the film. I think that it stuck in my mind at an early age gives indication of my natural in-born bent toward appreciation for the everyday hero, and for fine storytelling based on character. The film “Marty” is based on a play originally written by the great writer Paddy Chayefsky, who was known for writing ‘kitchen-sink’ dramas. Don’t you know, that is just my bread-and-butter with tea.
“Marty” is one of those universal stories to which every person can relate. It is the story of a normal, everyday decent guy and of the people around him. It’s the story of the culture of the 1950s– after WWII and Korea–when men came home and had to make a place for themselves in a society suddenly changing at lightening speed. It is about the men, and women, too, who have a hard time fitting into the world around them. It is about aging; how vulnerable aging women were in that time, and frankly, still are. (My mother lives with me.) It is funny, too, because the ‘old’ women portrayed are only in their late fifties! Oh, my, how times have changed. But those ages are only facts. The human struggles portrayed in the film are timeless.
The story at the heart is about two people struggling to be themselves in a world that is trying every which way to make them be like everyone else and to please everyone else. Not only is Marty not encouraged to be himself and follow his dreams, but everyone around him discourages him, because for him to change means change will be required of them. This is the very heart of living.
In the end, Marty understands and does what we all must do in such a situation. He encourages himself.
Be in your own corner today. Encourage yourself.
I like to think that Ernest Borgnine did exactly that in real life. He was happy and lived long and prospered.
Now, stop and get the film.