Marty Pilletti: Ma, sooner or later, there comes a point in a man's life when he's gotta face some facts. And one fact I gotta face is that, whatever it is that women like, I ain't got it.

         Marty (1955)
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February Issue

Classic Film

Awards Season Screenings

In February we are marking the film awards season with a number of films which won academy awards, one for best picture and the other for leading actress (in her debut film).

And while February is about the Oscars, we take a look at one of the other big and influential competitive film festivals - Cannes. A festival that rivals the Academy awards for status, glamour and history. The premier award at the festival is the Palme d'Or - a much sought after honour which practically guarantees box office success. Significantly, the Palme d'or was first awarded in 1955 (when it replaced the Grand Prix) to Marty,  a film that went on to win a Best Picture Oscar, and the film we are screening opening night.

We'll also take a look at an unlikely Oscar winner... Ernest Borgnine, who won for playing against type in his portrayal of Marty, the protagonsit of our opening night film.

And we'll look at the screenwriter - someone who is mostly forgotten, but who plays an essential role in both filmmaking, and in making fioms great..

We hope you find plenty of interest in this month's eZine.

The Cannes Film Festival
Cannes - one of the world's oldest Film Festivals
The International Film Festival was created on the initiative of Jean Zay, Minister for Education and Fine Arts, who was keen to establish an international cultural event in France to rival the Venice Film Festival.

The first edition of the Festival was originally set to be held in Cannes in 1939 under the presidency of Louis Lumière. However, it was not until over a year after the war ended that it finally took place, on 20 September 1946. It was subsequently held every September – except in 1948 and 1950 – and then every May from 1952 onwards.

                                   Sophia Loren at Cannes in 1952
While early editions of the Festival were primarily a social event from which almost all of the films went away with an award, the appearance of stars from around the world on the Festival’s red carpet and increasing media coverage quickly earned it a legendary international reputation.

In the 1950s, the Festival became more popular thanks to the attendance of celebrities such as Kirk Douglas, Sophia Loren, Grace Kelly, Brigitte Bardot, Cary Grant, Romy Schneider, Alain Delon, Simone Signoret, Gina Lollobrigida, and many more.

“The aim of the Festival is to encourage the development of the art of filmmaking in all its forms, while fostering and maintaining a spirit of collaboration among all filmmaking countries” (extract from the Festival policy, 1948.)

Before 1972, the films that competed in the selection were chosen by their country of origin. From 1972 onwards, however, the Festival asserted its independence by choosing the films that would feature in the Official Selection for itself.

With the creation of its
Marché du Film in 1959, the Festival took on a professional dimension that encouraged networking and interaction between all those involved in the film industry. Also worthy of mention are the Producers Network, which provides producers from around the world with a forum for discussing their projects, and the Short Film Corner, an area dedicated to short films, both of which were launched in 2004. Also, in continuing the same tradition as Documentary Brunch, acclaimed since its inception in 2008, Doc Corner was inaugurated in 2012.

The festival continues to attract great films, serious filmmakers, big stars, and a great deal of attention.

Vive le France
Classic Film Stars
Ernest Borgnine
Ernest Borgnine was born Ermes Effron Borgnino on January 24, 1917 in Hamden, Connecticut. His parents were Anna (Boselli), who had emigrated from Carpi (MO), Italy, and Camillo Borgnino, who had emigrated from Ottiglio (AL), Italy. As an only child, Ernest enjoyed most sports, especially boxing, but took no real interest in acting. At age 18, after graduating from high school in New Haven, and undecided about his future career, he joined the United States Navy, where he stayed for ten years until leaving in 1945. After a few factory jobs, his mother suggested that his forceful personality could make him suitable for a career in acting, and Borgnine promptly enrolled at the Randall School of Drama in Hartford. After completing the course, he joined Robert Porterfield's famous Barter Theatre in Abingdon, Virginia, staying there for four years, undertaking odd jobs and playing every type of role imaginable. His big break came in 1949, when he made his acting debut on Broadway playing a male nurse in "Harvey".

In 1951, Borgnine moved to Los Angeles to pursue a movie career, and made his film debut as Bill Street in The Whistle at Eaton Falls (1951). His career took off in 1953 when he was cast in the role of Sergeant "Fatso" Judson in From Here to Eternity (1953). This memorable performance led to numerous supporting roles as "heavies" in a steady string of dramas and westerns. He played against type in 1955 by securing the lead role of Marty Piletti, a shy and sensitive butcher, in
Marty (1955). He won an Academy Award for Best Actor for his performance, despite strong competition from Spencer Tracy, Frank Sinatra, James Dean and James Cagney.

Below is footage of Borgnine accepting his Oscar for best actor... it is mercifully short and extremely humble. Today's actors could learn a great deal from Ernest.
          Ernest Borgnine accepting the Oscar for his role in Marty (1955)

Throughout the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s, Borgnine performed memorably in such films as The Catered Affair (1956), Ice Station Zebra (1968) and Emperor of the North Pole (1973). Between 1962 and 1966, he played Lt. Commander Quinton McHale in the popular television series McHale's Navy (1962). In early 1984, he returned to television as Dominic Santini in the action series Airwolf (1984) co-starring Jan-Michael Vincent, and in 1995, he was cast in the comedy series The Single Guy (1995) as doorman Manny Cordoba. He also appeared in several made-for-TV movies.

Ernest Borgnine has often stated that acting is his greatest passion, and he is still working today. His amazing 61-year career (1951 - 2012 and continuing) includes appearances in well over 100 feature films and as a regular in three television series, as well as voiceovers in animated films such as All Dogs Go to Heaven 2 (1996), Small Soldiers (1998), and a continued role in the series SpongeBob SquarePants (1999). Between 1973 until his death, Ernest was married to Tova Traesnaes, who heads her own cosmetics company. They lived in Beverly Hills, California, where Ernest assisted his wife between film projects. When not acting, Ernest actively supported numerous charities and spoke tirelessly at benefits throughout the country. He has been awarded several honorary doctorates from colleges across the United States as well as numerous Lifetime Achievement Awards. In 1996, Ernest purchased a bus and traveled across the United States to see the country and meet his many fans. On December 17, 1999, he presented the University of North Alabama with a collection of scripts from his film and television career, due to his long friendship with North Alabama alumnus and actor George Lindsey (died May 6, 2012), who was an artist in residence at North Alabama.

Ernest Borgnine passed away aged 95 on July 8, 2012, at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, California, of renal failure.

The Screenwriter
In the film world it has always been the actors and the director who get all the attention. It is undeniable that their skill can be the differnece between a brilliant film and a complete flop. Star-power has long been recognised as an important ingredient of success, and few knew it better than Hollywood. They developed the studio system to keep the stars under their control (for as long as they could). They also put together the Hollwood walk of fame where most people who stop, do so to admire their favourite star.

But there is another Hollwood adage which is no less true.

'You can make a bad film from a good script, but you can't make a good film from a bad script'
Paddy Chayefsky                         Robert Towne                       Raymond Chandler
Some screenwriters are well known because they were also Actors or Directors (or both). Others are better known because of their work outside of cinema. While many are barely known at all, even though their films are much loved.

Paddy Chayefski is notable as he is the only person to have won three solo Academy Awards for Best Screenplay (the other three-time winners, Woody Allen, Francis Ford Coppola, Charles Brackett and Billy Wilder, have all shared their awards with co-writers). Paddy served in WWII and received the Purple Heart following injuries sustained while fighting in Europe. While recuperating from his injuries he wrote his first stage play - a musical comedy, No T.O. for Love. First produced in 1945 by the Special Services Unit, the show toured European Army bases for two years. After the war Paddy broke in to TV and then film, his first big success being the academy award win for Marty.

Robert Towne most notable work was his Academy Award-winning original screenplay for Roman Polanski's Chinatown (1974), which is widely considered one of the greatest movie screenplays ever written. He also wrote its sequel The Two Jakes in 1990, and wrote the Hal Ashby comedy-dramas The Last Detail (1973), and Shampoo (1975), as well as the first two Mission Impossible films (which is perhaps less reason to celebrate his abilities as a writer). Towne has also dabbled in acting - in the 1960's he appeared in Roger Corman's sci-fi film Last Woman on Earth, which Towne also wrote. He also starred in another Corman film, Creature From the Haunted Sea.

Raymond Chandler sits somewhat uncomfortably in the company of unknown screenwriters, being so well known and loved for his crime novels of the 1930's and 40's. Chandler had originally turned to writing in desperation during the depression, inspired by the pulp novels of the time. His first foray into film was courtesy of adaptions of his novels, with Farewell, my Lovely, Murder my Sweet, The High Window, The lady in the Lake, and The Big Sleep all being filmed albeit sometimes under different titles. But Chandler also wrote original material for the screen including The Blue Dahlia, Strangers on a Train (for Hitchcock), and Double Indemnity (with Billy Wilder)

Screenwriters have also appeared in many great films as characters, the most notable being Joe Gillis (played by William Holden) in Sunset Boulevarde. Of course Joe was someone pushed too far by a lack of work, financial hardship and a lack of appreciation from the studios. But the film was also notable for remembering the many forgotten people in film, most prominently the actors from the silent era.

But you can hardly blame screenwriters for making some of the best characters in film writers (or screenwriters) - they don't get many opportunities to see themselves front and centre in a film... unless they write themselves there. And even then, some of their best lines will still end upon the cutting room floor.

Screening at The School of Arts

Saturday, 20th of February

7.00pm start

Marty (1955)


A middle-aged butcher and a school teacher who have given up on the idea of love, meet at a dance and fall in love.

Drama/Romance      Rated:PG      90 min
More Details

Screening at Cafe Nova

Sunday, 28th of February

7.00pm start

Roman Holiday (1953)

A bored and sheltered princess escapes her guardians and falls in love with an American newsman in Rome.

Comedy/Romance      Rated: G       118 mins
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