Goin’ to the Show With a Regular Guy

June 5, 2007

Marty is a tiny miracle. It’s one of those movies that restores your faith in the power of what good storytelling can do. It’s a movie that’s completely character driven–which I find much more interesting than being plot-centric (the plot is basically lonely butcher meets lonely school teacher, hilarity ensues). I just love watching a movie that makes me feel better. Marty was, to say the least, a delightful hit. Sweet, warm, well acted (Ernest Borgnine won his best actor statue for this) well written – the marvelous Paddy Chayefsky never fails. His Network is one of my all time favorites and now Marty is, too. He makes the lines “What do you feel like doing tonight? I don’t know, what do you feel like doing?” seem like Shakespeare. Clocking in at about a scant 91 minutes, Marty is the shortest Academy Award winning film. And it started its life as a TV movie (Rod Steiger played Marty, Nancy Marchand–Tony Soprano’s mom–played Clara). I’d love to see this version. Too bad Playhouse 90 is never on TVLand or Nick at Nite.

Marty was an amazing choice for best picture. It’s one of the few times the academy got it really, really right. Marty beat out some big guns, too: Mister Roberts, Picnic, The Rose Tattoo. East of Eden was from 1955, too. It wasn’t even nominated.

Things we want to remember:

  • 56 is not old: Marty’s mom and Marty’s Aunt were portrayed as doddering little old ladies; all washed up because their children were grown. The oldest one was 56. Again, that’s not old.
  • The Dick Van Dyke show’s neighbor, Jerry Helper played Marty’s cousin. Cool
  • Did people in New York in the 50’s ever sleep? I don’t think so.
  • Betsy Blair, who plays Clara, has had a very interesting life. She was married to Gene Kelly for 17 years, blacklisted, (Gene Kelly insisted to MGM she gets this part), married director Karel Reisz (Sweet Dreams) and played Ellyn’s mom on the late, great show, thirtysomething–Betsy has a stunning monologue on the episode where Ellyn’s parents are divorcing, about the two kinds of men in the world, nerds and dancers. “Never marry a dancer,” she advised her daughter. It’s a very powerful speech, especially knowing that the actress was married to, and divorced from, one of the most famous dancers of the 20th century.

For dinner we had a feast. I figured that since Marty was a regular, beer-drinking kinda guy that we would have a little treat known as “Beer Can Chicken”

It’s a great recipe, it’s a fun recipe, but it’s a long recipe–we got it from Epicurious.Com. This is perfect for 4th of July.

Beer Can Chicken

We served this with a Caprese salad. I don’t know why I made Caprese salad, it didn’t have anything to do with the movie–I just had a taste for it. But, during the movie there was this great bit of dialogue

Mrs. Pilletti: Why don’t you go to the Stardust Ballroom?
Marty: What?
Mrs. Pilletti: I say, why don’t you go to the Stardust Ballroom? It’s loaded with tomatoes.
Marty: It’s loaded with what?
Mrs. Pilletti: Tomatoes.

So, like the Stardust Ballroom, my Caprese Salad is loaded with tomatoes.

Caprese salad

1 of each red, yellow and orange tomato

fresh mozzarella (the white kind you buy from a deli)

fresh basil, cut into chiffonade

Slice the tomatoes and cheese and alternately layer on a plates. Sprinkle with the basil chiffonade. And sprinkle a little olive oil and balsamic vinegar over the salad. Grind fresh pepper to taste.

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