Study Guide

Marty Scene 4

Scene 4

Scene 4

  • The scene dissolves again, this time into an establishing shot of what must be the Stardust Ballroom, a large room full of people dancing to a swingy song and talking.
  • The camera pans along a line of single men surveying the crowd, at the end of which are Angie and Marty.
  • Angie already looks depressed. They point at this girl and that, Angie trying to get Marty to ask a girl to dance and Marty shying away.
  • Finally, they mark out two women to approach, Angie taking the lead, asking a girl chewing gum to dance. She nods wordlessly and they waltz away.
  • When Marty asks her friend to dance, however, she looks him up and down and says, "I don't feel like dancing just yet." It's not totally cruel, but it's still a rejection.
  • Marty goes back to the sidelines, defeated.
  • The film cuts back to the room full of happy-seeming dancers, then to a close-up of a youngish woman with bright eyes, looking past the camera.
  • The shot zooms out—she's with another woman and two men, talking with the woman. The women begin to climb the stairs to the dance hall while the men stay behind.
  • One man is putting coins into a cigarette vending machine while the other, bespectacled, talks to him in hushed tones, saying, "Hey, I know she's kind of plain, but she's really nice."
  • The other man says, "Fine, but I only have one Saturday night off every three weeks, and I'm not sure she's who I want to spend it with."
  • Halfway up the stairs, the bright-eyed, petite woman's friend asks if she likes the guy she's been set up with. (The guy is getting cigarettes and complaining.) She says he seems nice. (He's not.)
  • At the bottom of the stairs, the two men are circling around the same conversation, the bespectacled guy trying to convince the other that she's a nice girl, the jerky guy repeating his disappointment in her looks.
  • The men follow the women up the stairs. When they get to the top, in the lobby of the ballroom, a woman leaving calls out the name of the jerky one (Herb, apparently.)
  • Herb says he'll see her, and it's clear he's got a scheme in mind.
  • As the four enter, the friend asks the fixed-up Clara if she's afraid she'll run into any of her students, since the crowd looks so young.
  • She says no, she teaches in Brooklyn.
  • The foursome debates whether to start dancing straightaway or just get drinks and sit for a bit.
  • Herb says he'll be right back. Then Herb walks away quickly.
  • The scene dissolves to Herb stalking around the sidelines of the dance hall, until he spots Marty, who's standing propped up against a mirrored column, looking bored.
  • "You going stag?" Herb asks Marty. Marty says yeah. Herb has a proposition for him: He got set up with a "dog" and he just ran into an old flame, would Marty take his place with the "dog" if he gave him a fiver.
  • Marty seems incredulous, saying, "You can't walk out on a girl like that." Herb sort of rolls his eyes and keeps moving.
  • Marty watches as Herb approaches another guy, seeming to ask him the same question, then giving him money.
  • They go off to find Clara, and Marty follows behind them, watching the scene unfold. Clara is sitting alone at the table. The three have a conversation, and Clara seems to brush them both off, savvy to what's going on.
  • As the men walk away, Herb tells the guy if Clara's going home alone anyway, he should get his five bucks back.
  • Once they're out of the frame, Marty turns back to Clara, who's gotten up from the table and looks unsure what to do next, eventually running out of the main room. Marty follows her.
  • He finds her out on the roof, where she seems to be crying just slightly.
  • Somehow managing not to come off as a total creepster, Marty asks if she'd like to dance.
  • She seems about to answer, but then gives into her tears, burying her face in his chest.
  • The scene dissolves back to a sea of couples on the dance floor, Marty and Clara among them, holding to each other fairly close by 1950s standards.
  • The two talk, and Clara tells him about the time she came to the dance hall alone, how she sat on the sidelines for an hour and a half "not moving a muscle," un-approached and never asked to dance.
  • When she started to cry she had to take herself home. She says she's been crying a lot lately.
  • Marty says he cries a lot too—he's a totally emo kind of guy.
  • Clara says it's recent for her, but Marty says he's always been a crier, and that he's known as the sensitive, good-hearted one in the family, but that he got that way from being kicked around and rejected so much.
  • He says he knows how Clara feels, and is having a super-time with her.
  • Clara says she's having a good time too, that she doesn't know why such a nice, smart guy hasn't been snapped up long ago.
  • Marty says, thanks, and that love and marriage should be about more than good looks, and that his father was really ugly but that his mother adored him.
  • He always cheered her up and empathized with her, and they were able to talk to each other and had a good marriage.
  • He says that their beautiful marriage was one of the best things he had in his life.
  • Clara looks endeared, but nervous, and confesses that's she's twenty-nine (a total old maid by mid-century standards). Marty says he's thirty-four.

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