The scene fades to Marty and Clara, who are descending the stairs at the Stardust Ballroom with their coats on.
Marty suggests they get a cup of coffee and then continues talking, talking, and talking like a chatterbox with an IV-drip of coffee in his arm.
He talks about where he went to high school (since Clara is a chemistry teacher), how he has a cousin in Chicago who's a teacher, that he filled out a college application, but then his father died and he had to go to work, that he was good in German class, and in math…
The couple moves out into the busy Saturday night street, and Marty is still yammering away, talking about how long it's been since he graduated from high school (seventeen years), how he's getting old, when he'll turn thirty-five, how his dad died while playing cards, how he found out from a neighbor…
(So this is a pretty brilliant scheme the filmmakers are running: We get that Marty is nervous and excited around Clara, but at the same time we also get his whole backstory.)
"I've never talked so much in my life!" Marty says self-consciously.
Clara doesn't look particularly put-off though, just amused and interested.
Marty swears he's going to shut himself up.
But of course he doesn't, going on to ask what he's been doing with himself for the last seventeen years, that usually he can't usually talk to girls.
He turns to her, apologizing again for how he can't shut himself up. "Isn't this stupid?" Finally he chills for a moment and looks at her in the eyes, saying, "You got a really nice face, you know that?"
She smiles (maybe even blushes, though the black-and-white film stock prevents us from verifying) and thanks him, and they go off down the street, into the dark.
Back in the ballroom, Angie is cutting through the crowd of dancers, apparently looking for Marty.
He goes down the stairs, about halfway, and then puts his hands in his pockets, as if defeated.
(It's that why-didn't-I-stay-home-and-eat-takeout-and-watch-reality-TV kind of look.)
The scene cuts to a full luncheonette/coffee shop situation, and at the edge of the frame, Marty is sitting in a booth, laughing loudly.
He's with Clara, telling a funny story, which she seems to be enjoying, cups of coffee on the table in front of them.
Soon it becomes clear that he's telling a story from his military training days. Marty is a World War II vet, like most men of his generation in the 1950s. They're having an awesome first date.
The scene dissolves to their table, covered in half-finished pie and crumpled napkins, panning up to Marty.
He's explaining, in a more somber tone, how he got out of the army at twenty-five and felt lost.
He thought he'd go to college, but then his older brother wanted to get married, and he would be responsible for his mother, three then-unmarried sisters, and younger brother—he'd have to work.
He went through a period of depression, with insomnia, suicidal tendencies, and a general sense of doom.
When the butcher offered him a gig, he had to accept it for the sake of himself and his family.
"There's nothing wrong with being a butcher," says Clara. Marty says that people look down on butchers, but Clara says she doesn't.
He explains how his boss wants to sell the shop, and has offered it to Marty.
Talking the numbers, he begins to cheer himself up. Clara says it seems like he wants to do it. Marty says yeah, but it'll be hard, and it'll take some doing financially.
Clara looks sweetly at her coffee companion saying, "Marty, I've known you for three hours, but I know you're a good butcher."
Of course, she doesn't mean she's seen his cuts of beef, but that she can tell he cares about things deeply and has a sincere sense of responsibility.
She thinks he's a good man. She says how she feels warm toward him.
Marty says he wants to keep hanging out with her, but why don't they swing by his house (which is around the corner), get some cash, then go "step out" somewhere (which we think means getting a real drink and maybe getting even cozier).
Clara starts to make excuses but then realizes that she wants to hang out with him more, too.
She goes to powder her nose in the ladies' room, and Marty settles up the tab.
They walk down the street together, slowly and deliberately, chatting inaudibly, past all the lights and people.
Meanwhile, Angie walks alone in the dark against the wind, and then enters the bar we saw at the beginning of the movie.
The bar is full of drunken dudes.
Two older ladies sit at the counter, talking about a woman she knows who had so many babies the doctor told her she'd die if she had another one. This woman then went ahead and got pregnant, had a healthy baby... and then died.
Meanwhile, Angie's asking the bartender for Marty, looks at the older women with a little disgust, and then walks out into the night.
An elevated subway hums along on the dark street, and Marty and Clara stroll into the frame.
Clara's talking about the commute she'd have to take for a promotion she's been offered as a Department Head outside of the city.
She's not sure, she says. It seems like it'd be a lot of bother, even though a woman would never be promoted to Department Head in New York City proper, "especially not in the sciences." Guess things haven't changed much? And also that her father depends on her.
Marty says that while he totally understands the tendency to use family as an excuse not to take risks, staying in the family home is preventing both of them from really growing.
Clara says she's afraid of being lonely. Marty says she'll make friends, but she says she doesn't make friends that quickly.
Marty says that he'll come visit, and she can call him up when she feels lonely.
(Check out how they're both supportive of each other's dreams and ambitions, the way people who care about each other selflessly tend to be…)
They continue to walk, and someone calls Marty's name from a car across the street.
It's Ralph, that guy who was talking about the sure-thing nurses.
He asks Marty to come over and he tries to get Marty to join their party, as they've got an extra, un-escorted girl, whom they refer to as an "odd squirrel."
Marty looks back at Clara, standing alone on the street, and wishes them a good night.
Our couple continues their night stroll, laughing, smiling, and talking.
Marty opens the door of his dark, empty house and turns on the light, giving Clara a little tour.
He offers her a seat at the dining room table, offers her something to eat ("There's half a chicken in the ice box"), takes her coat, and begins telling her about his brother's wedding the weekend before.
He talks about how grand the party was how wonderful the food was, going into cuts of meat, playing his whole nervous-babbling thing again.
Clara looks at him, smiling, and Marty offers to take her home, since it's getting late.
As he helps her with her coat, he makes a move to kiss her, but she resists, and he gets a little angry, and then sad and quiet.
Seeing how's he hurt, she sits beside him. "I'm old enough to know better," Marty begins, starting to talk about his loneliness and rejection.
When he falls quiet, Clara says that she wants to see him again, and she just "didn't know how to handle the situation" (which we think maybe means she's never been kissed), and that when she gets home she knows she'll only think of him and the night they've had.
Marty, beginning to catch his breath again, says he'll give her a call tomorrow. He just needs to see what's up after going to church, with his aunt moving in. He may have to help.
Clara says that's cool, and Marty gets up to fetch a pack of cigarettes before taking her home on the bus.
When he returns to the room, they stand close to each other, locked in a kind of loving stare, and finally kiss. The music swells and they hug. (Aww!)
Just then, the door opens. Marty's mom is home. He introduces Teresa to Clara, saying she's a grad of NYU and a high school chemistry teacher.
Teresa offers her that same chicken in the icebox, but Clara says they're on the way out.
Teresa tells her to stay a moment, and begins to explain that she's come home from her sister's, and that Catherine doesn't get along with her daughter-in-law, so she's going to come live with them.
Teresa invites Marty and Clara to sit down and they do what Mama says.
Clara smiles as Teresa begins to talk about the saga of her sister, how "it's a curse to be a mother," with nothing left to do once your kids grow up and your husband is gone.
Brightly, Clara suggests that Catherine pick up a hobby, but Teresa says that her job is cooking and cleaning, and now she has no one left to work for. (A lot of what she's saying here is almost a direct quote from her sister's earlier complaints.)
Clara says she shouldn't blame Virginia; she probably also wants to take care of the house.
Teresa is taken aback by the suggestion, even though she said pretty much said the same thing before.
Clara says she feels like young couples should live on their own, and mothers shouldn't "depend so much on children for her rewards in life." (Clara is really digging a deep hole for herself. Marty, sitting beside her, is rigid, not making eye contact with anyone.)
His mom blames college for her having beliefs like that, and Clara retreats, saying she doesn't know why she's even arguing about this, since she doesn't know anyone involved.
Marty says they better be going, and Teresa stays seated as the two take their leave.
The camera zooms in on Teresa, who looks shocked and sad in their wake.
Fading to the outside, Angie is still walking the streets looking for Marty, sees him waiting at the bus stop with Clara, and runs across the way to talk to him.
"I've been looking everywhere for you," Angie says, and Marty says he looked for him before they left the Stardust but couldn't find him. (It's unclear whether he did or not.)
Marty introduces his pal to Clara, but Angie hardly looks at her, instead staring at Marty angrily.
He asks him what they'll do next, and Marty says he's going to take Clara home.
Angie, not taking the hint (or not caring), says he'll ride down with him and then they can go back out, since it's only one o'clock, "and there's still plenty of action."
Marty tries to reason out why he can't (or doesn't want to) hang out with Angie, but poor old Angie just storms off down the street. Marty shrugs, and the bus comes. They get on.
As Marty walks Clara to her door under some pretty romantic streetlight/moonlight action, he awkwardly puts out a hand to shake it, and then they discuss when he'll call her.
A young, footloose couple waltzes down the steps of the apartment building and they look after them.
They say goodbye shyly, and Marty leaves, running down the block.
Inside, Clara makes her way up the stairs, smiling to herself, and then unlocking the door of the apartment where she lives with her parents.
A very energetic Marty strides back to bus stop, pacing and grinning.
Then he sort of triumphantly punches the bus stop sign, and runs across the street to hail a cab.