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A sickly English woman runs a store by herself, while her irresponsible son travels aimlessly, refusing to contact her. When told that his mother has cancer, the young man comes home, reforms himself, and helps his mom run the shop. Soon however, each becomes involved in illegal activities. Written by
As Cary Grant and Barry Fitzgerald part at the end of the movie you can here a flute playing a slow sorrowful dirge. There is a flutist leaning against the wall and it appears that he should be the one playing, however, his finger movements are more along the lines of a fast jig than a slow dirge. See more »
Cary Grant wanted to do something different than being a comedic or romantic leading man. He'd have liked to do more serious things like None But the Lonely Heart a good deal more frequently.
In point of fact Grant understood the character of Ernie Mott far better than any of his other more upper class characters. Ernie Mott was the kind of fellow Cary would have run into back in the days when he was Archie Leach. Grant came from a hardscrabble background growing up in London. In many ways Cary Grant was the greatest role he ever played.
Grant had played cockneys before on the screen, but in a more comic vein in Sylvia Scarlett and Gunga Din. However what we've got in None But the Lonely Heart is far more serious.
It's an original screenplay by Clifford Odets and adapted from a novel by Richard Llewellyn who also wrote How Green Was My Valley. Odets was at that time a sensation on Broadway with a whole string of dramas of social significance from the Thirties. The grinding effects of poverty are just about the same whether it's the Lower East Side of New York or the cockney slums of London. Odets also directed this film, one of only two times he did that.
Grant understood that very well and he turned in one bravura performance as Ernie Mott who wants desperately to get ahead and makes a few bad choices in trying to do so. The only one who understands him is his mother played by Ethel Barrymore who returned to the screen for the first time in a decade.
It was a great performance for Cary Grant and it lost a fortune for RKO Studios as the public as Sam Goldwyn said, stayed away in droves. They would not accept Grant in a dramatic part. Cary got his second and last nomination for Best Actor, but lost the Academy Award to Bing Crosby in Going My Way.
Ethel Barrymore won a Best Supporting Actress Oscar that year for this film. It led to a permanent break from the stage and she spent the rest of her life in Hollywood in a variety of films. Unlike brother Lionel she wasn't tied down to a long term contract to one studio and she picked and chose wisely in roles when she stayed in Hollywood.
George Coulouris is the best from the rest of the cast as a small time racketeer in the neighborhood who Grant gets mixed up with. Coulouris always exudes menace, one of the best in doing that.
What happened to Cary Grant is the same thing that happened to Tyrone Power when he appeared in Nightmare Alley, great critical reviews and the public wouldn't buy it. Both of those guys were limited by type casting their entire careers. Power did manage to do Witness for the Prosecution at the premature end of his career, the closest Grant did to a dramatic part after this was Crisis which also was a commercial flop.
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