Film Site describes it as "the poignant, simple character study of a lonely, unmarried, lovelorn middle-aged, 34 year old son who works as a Bronx butcher and still lives with his love-smothering mother." Variety has a glowing review. Empire Online says, "Released in an era of widescreen epics and extravagant musicals, Delbert Mann's ode to working-class life found much favour... becoming the first film to bag both the Best Picture Oscar and Cannes' Palme D'Or."
AV/Film Club says,
That this perennial bachelor earns the audience’s empathy, not its pity, is thanks largely to the man playing him: Ernest Borgnine, the late character actor and unlikely romantic lead, who cut his teeth portraying villains and scoundrels. ... it’s hard to imagine anyone besting the delicate balance of weariness and optimism Borgnine achieves here. He too won an Oscar, overcoming stiff competition from Spencer Tracy, James Cagney, Frank Sinatra, and James Dean...
Rotten Tomatoes has a critics rating of 100%.