The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter (1968)

G  |   |  Drama  |  31 July 1968 (USA)
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Ratings: 7.8/10 from 2,643 users  
Reviews: 42 user | 12 critic

When deaf mute Singer moves to a small city to be near his only friend confined in a hospital, he grows attached to his landlady's sensitive 16-year-old daughter.


(novel), (screenplay)
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Nominated for 2 Oscars. Another 3 wins & 9 nominations. See more awards »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Spiros Antonapoulos
Peter Mamakos ...
Charles Spirmonedes
Margaret 'Mick' Kelly
Biff McGuire ...
Mr. Kelly
Jackie Marlowe ...
Bubber Kelly
Laurinda Barrett ...
Mrs. Margaret Kelly
Robbie Barnes ...
Ralph Kelly
Wayne Smith ...
Richard Fingar ...
Sucker Wells
Sherri Vise ...
Gavin Paulin ...
Percy Rodrigues ...
Dr. Copeland (as Percy Rodriguez)


Sentimental story centers around a deaf-mute, Singer, and Mick, a teenager who lives in the house where he rents a room. Mick and Singer become friends, though they are separated by Singer's lack of communication ability and Mick's struggle with teenage problems. The lives of the people Singer touches are varied, linked only by their friendship with Singer. His friends include a deaf-mute, a drunk, and a doctor. Singer does his best to help those around him solve their problems, but who is there to help him solve his own? Written by Melissa Portell <>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


...and from this man who could not speak or hear, the girl heard many things.




G | See all certifications »



Release Date:

31 July 1968 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Das Herz ist ein einsamer Jäger  »

Filming Locations:

Box Office


$2,000,000 (estimated)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:



Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Former Warner contractee Andrew Duggan narrates the trailer and Sondra Locke reads some passages from the original novel not found in the movie. See more »


When Dr. Copeland goes in to see Judge Bronson he enters via a swinging door with a glass panel in it. A member of the camera crew is reflected in the glass as it swings shut. See more »


Mick: But, Mama... I wanna make something of myself, Mama. I got this feelin' inside me like I was destined for something.
Mrs. Kelly: We all have that feelin' when we are young. It will pass!
Mr. Kelly: Margaret, don't!
Mick: Well, I know it won't be easy, but without a high school diploma, what chance have I got?
Mrs. Kelly: The same chance I had. You'll meet some fella and get married. If you're lucky, you'll love him. You'll have kids. That's what life is, Mick. That's all it is!
See more »

Crazy Credits

And Introducing

Sondra Locke

as Mick See more »


Featured in Casting By (2012) See more »


I Can't Afford to Let You Go
Written by Dave Grusin and Hermine Hilton
Performed by Mac Davis
See more »

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User Reviews

Poignant sixties film with diversity issues abound -- sensitive Alan Arkin performance
2 January 2000 | by (sf, usa) – See all my reviews

I cannot forget the theme music of "The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter" by Dave Grusin. There's a certain pervading peacefulness listening to its strains. Watching the film again on cable reminded me how impressed I was when I first saw it. Ever since, I kept an eye on movies with Alan Arkin in it -- his performance as John Singer, a deaf-mute, was sensitively delivered and commanded respect. It was Sondra Locke's debut appearance. She was young and slim, perfect for the role of "Mick", who learned to accept his disability and was able to share her love of music with him.

Along this life's journey of Singer, his friends included Chuck McCann as the plump fellow deaf-mute, who's playful and loved chocolates; Stacy Keach as the recovering alcoholic and new found chess mate; Percy Rodriguez as the self-righteous black Doctor who has his strife and discords with his daughter Portia, portrayed by a young Cicely Tyson. Lessons in diversity and tolerance are subtly evident as the story progresses. The ending is certainly not of Hollywood standard. Cinematographer James Wong Howe certainly tied in hope through his lens on the final shot with Mick (Sondra Locke) in it.

This film about reaching out and touching someone, irrespective of one's ability to verbally communicate or via signs, of one's race, color, or background, still rings true.

18 of 20 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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