Study Guide

Marty Dissatisfaction


MARTY: Angie, I'm thirty-four years old. I been looking for a girl every Saturday night of my life. I'm tired of looking.

As they all say, love finds you when you aren't looking. Good job, Marty.

MARTY: Everybody's always telling me to get married. Get married. Get married. Don't you think I wanna get married? I wanna get married. They drive me crazy.

How would this story be different if Marty wasn't particularly looking for a mate? What if marriage wasn't on the top of his Wish List?

MARTY: I chased enough girls in my life. I went to enough dances. I got hurt enough. I don't wanna get hurt no more.

It's hard to think of meek Marty "chasing" a girl with anymore than a polite request to dance.

MARTY: I'll go to the Stardust Ballroom! I'll put on a blue suit and I'll go! And you know what I'm gonna get for my trouble? Heartache! A big night of heartache!

Marty's loyalty to his ma sends him right back into the snakepit of rejection. If that doesn't prove his love for her, we don't know what does.

HERB: Well, I'll tell you. I got stuck on a blind date with a dog, and I just met an old girl I used to know, and I was wondering how I'm gonna get rid of the girl I'm with. Somebody to take her home, you know what I mean? I'd be glad to pay you five bucks if you take her home for me.

Most people would just say they didn't feel good, and leave. But hey, guy, whatever works?

MARTY: You can't just walk off on a girl like that.

Is this moment more about chivalry, or Marty identifying with someone else who's about to get rejected? Does it matter?

CLARA: Well, the last time I was up here [...] I sat there for an hour and a half, without moving a muscle. Now and then, some fellow would sort of walk up to me and then change his mind. I'll never forget just sitting there for an hour and a half with my hands in my lap. Then I began to cry, and I had to get up and go home.

Why do we get the feeling that Clara's tears are never fake? That they only come when she really just can't take it anymore? Just check out when she's crying silently, sitting watching TV with her clueless, sedate parents. Gets us every time.

MARTY: I can't do that, Ralph, because somebody already brushed her off once tonight.

Remember at the beginning of the movie, when Angie tries to get him to call up that "bigger" girl for a date? It's not just his rejections Marty's sensitive too—it's everyone else's. (Are the downtrodden more likely to be nice?)

MARTY: I'm old enough to know better. Come New Year's Eve, everybody starts arranging parties, I'm the guy they gotta dig up a date for.

Rejection is like a rough surface, and ol' Marty's heart sure is calloused.

MARTY: All I wanted was a lousy kiss! What do you think, I was gonna try something serious with my mother coming home any minute!?

Buddy, Clara doesn't know you, or anything about your ma. She's just having a nice time, or trying to.

TOMMY: Last night was the first time in my life I ever heard my mother cry, you know that?

Do you feel like Tommy is telling the truth here? Or does it feel like he's just pulling out the rhetoric to make Virginia feel worse?

MARTY: Listen, Angie, I wanna tell you, you were very impolite last night. I introduced you to the girl, and you just turned and walked off. Now, why did you do that?

ANGIE: You got me mad, that's why.

Marty was willing to disappoint Angie, leaving him at the Stardust Ballroom like that. Whatever happened to bros before hos? Or was that not a thing during the Cold War?

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