None But the Lonely Heart (1944) Poster

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The haunting music -None but the Lonely Heart, is a constant theme
dr_salter12 April 2002
This 1944 movie is a masterpiece of black and white photography by Director Clifford Odets. The subtilty of background lighting and the shadow effects in the street scenes are magic. There are moments of sheer brilliance with Cary Grant as the independent unorthodox Cockney son Ernie Mott, who comes home and decides to run the secondhand furniture shop and care for his sick mother, Ethel Barrymore. Jane Wyman, makes money playing the cello and patiently loves Ernie from across the street. Mott has 'perfect pitch' and can tune pianos and does odd jobs. Grant brings this quirky character to life and makes us love him. Ernie is a combination of dark brooding and sanguine pathos. All the actors are excellent and bring the poetic language of the script to life. June Duprez as Ernie's girlfriend Ada is riveting. Barry Fitzgerald as genial family friend Henry Twite is special. Even the Dog called Nipper stole every scene. As you can see I loved this movie, hope you do too....
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The Perils of Typecasting
bkoganbing9 June 2006
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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"Be a victim or be a thug. Suppose you don't want to be either?"
muskoxx18 January 2002
Great movie about one man's dilemma where he must choose between freespirited independence vs. the security of settling down with the ones you love, as seen through the eyes of Ernie Mott (Cary Grant). Ernie wants only freedom and peace which he can only obtain by being a wanderer, not being tied down by jobs or commitments. This changes when he finds his mother (Ethyl Barrymore) is very ill and he decides to stay with her and help run her shop. He had also fallen in love and his staying with Mom conveniently means he won't have to leave his new girl Ada(). But there is a catch with Ada, which she seems to realize from the start but Ernie slowly finds out the hard way as events unfold. The tragic implications have effects on everyone who is close to him and he ultimately is forced to re-evaluate his priorities.
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A great but underrated film that was one of Grant's favorites
nipper-517 February 1999
I first saw this movie in 1973 and felt it was a great film. Cary Grant plays Ernie Mott a drifter from the east end of London who values his pride and independence above all else. He was raised in the poverty ridden area of the city but refuses to be tied to it. He believes that mankind can be better if given the chance and not held back. As he says: "Stand back! Let the man see the rabbit."

Clifford Odets screen play is very loosely based on the Richard Llewellan novel. The film captures dark moodiness that represents the poverty stricken area of London and the Cockney inhabitants thereof.
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A solid, engaging drama with amazing performances from the whole cast. I dare say one of Grant's greatest performances.
terry-17119 July 2005
I saw this movie by chance. Did not think I would be interested in seeing Cary Grant as a lower class good for nothing but was gradually riveted by the story and character development. The mother was amazing. Cary was amazing, in one of his most acting type acting jobs I've every seen. What I mean is, he's always playing the suave type and this was very different, much more serious and nuanced and he was very good at it. Also the dialog was really engaging, entertaining, full of little cockney(I guess it was cockney)sayings and rhymes. The watch maker/repair man was one of my favorite characters. All the actors in this were splendid and well directed. The ending bitter sweet and different. I was constantly thinking that I had guessed the outcome but was continually surprised with each little turn of the story. The two different women that have his romantic interest are both fascinating and diametrically opposed which creates a subtle suspense that underlies the other more dramatic events of the film. The dialog was really good. Some of the lines are so impacting, I think they'll stay with me for a long time. At one point,a friend informs Cary about his mother's illness and Cary asks him about it. The man replies: "Your mother is not a superficial woman." thus implying the illness is very serious.

Highly recommend this film. BUT it's not your typical funny or adventurous Cary Grant film. It's a serious and touching portrait of a man trying to do the right thing(and the unselfish thing) for the first time in his life. So be ready for a real drama(a bit more modern in feel next to other contemporary dramas). A well made drama.
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Thought-provoking, Unpredictable Symbolic Drama
krdement14 November 2007
Warning: Spoilers
Most commentators have focused on the great affinity that Cary Grant had for Ernie Mott, and the great under-appreciated performances he delivered in this and other similar roles. I completely agree. I regret that so many great actors such as Grant and Errol Flynn were typecast. I wish they had been able to leave us a broader cinematic legacy, and I wish that TCM exposed us to the breadth of their rich legacies more regularly.

None But the Lonely Heart is full of characters brought to life by familiar actors delivering absolutely spot-on performances. That is one of the film's great strengths.

The recreation of London's back streets on RKO's back lots and sound stages is also remarkably convincing. This is one of the components of what was termed "Movie Magic" before first, location shooting, then high-tech special effects, and finally, digitalization co-opted the term. This "art" of convincingly capturing the essence of a location within the confines of a studio is one of the quaint aspects of old films that, when done well, fascinates me. It is the essence of Imagination - both of the filmmaker and the audience. This film is "Movie Magic" at its best.

It is also a film of far greater depth than has been reflected in any of the comments. The symbolic bookends of this film are the 2 great world wars. It begins on the eve of Armistice Day (commemorating WWI) where Ernie Mott (everyman) meets Mr. Twite at the Tomb of the Unknown Warrior. Mott acknowledges that the unknown dead man might have been his father and Twite says he might have been his son. The two thus establish a bond that endures for the film and beyond. Mott's symbolic use of the term, "dad" to address the men in the film is also introduced, while Twite begins to refer to Mott as "son." Later we see Mott refer to everywoman (that is, every elder woman) as "mom," except in the latter part of the film he refers to his own mother as his "daughter," when he learns of her illness and he assumes the role of her caretaker. His old, habitual girlfriend (Jane Wyman) will accept him under her roof under any terms. But the new girl he meets, with a "kiddie" (who is never provided a name) wants security. She eventually forsakes him for her autocratic ex-husband, Mott's mobster boss, who ordered the beating of Ma Mott's Jewish friend, Ike Weber, and the ransacking of his business. Near the end of the film, both Mott and his Ma have been arrested for forsaking their honest ways and going after a quick, dishonest gain. Mott, bailed out of jail by Mr. Weber, has visited his dying Ma in jail probably for the last time. At film's end, on the eve of WWII, Mott and Twite gaze skyward and puzzle over the frightful noises they have been hearing overhead. Mott ends up on the stoop of his old girlfriend's flat. Will she let him in? Is he there for good? Has he learned his lesson?

This is a film about Idealism, Fascism, Materialism, the inevitability of War (?), the generational role reversal, the Brotherhood of Man, the Hegelian Dialectic . . . Hemingway wrote about a lost generation. Watch this film and see if you don't think there was also a lost British generation between the wars. Mott had been a disillusioned "ex-pat" up north who returned home to London.
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Everything with a kiss
Popey-612 November 2003
This ernest turn at portraying Cockney life quickly becomes a fascinating story with strong characterisation. The initial narration, a touch overdone, gives a tantalising glance at future events that never appear in the film. At first, Grant seems to be playing his part with a strange over-zealous streak but we rapidly understand that this is the nature of his Ernie Mott (like Nic Cage in Wild at Heart, this is a man with clothes that represent his sense of independence), a happy-go-lucky character with a brooding sense of social injustice. Everything bad comes with a dose of sugar, a kiss if you like, to sweeten the experience and make life seem better than it really is. This is one of those pictures that plays out like a languishing soap opera - insightful and compassionate with moments of excitement - just enough to keep 'Ma' happy. This would probably work today as a remake but I suspect the directors would play up the sex and violence to such a level that the real essence of 'want and need' would be lost. Worth watching.
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Painful but interesting.
jshaffer-123 June 2004
I found this movie to be very painful to watch. It is not your typical Hollywood, let's glamorise everything, everyone has money, let's make it look pretty. These people are grindingly poor, the mother is dying of cancer, and our boy is trying to be his own man, without money or position. Tuning pianos seems like a difficult way to earn a living, but makes use of the only talent he really has, which is perfect pitch. For those who don't know, it is the ability to name any tone or note that you hear. This movie has a great supporting cast, Barry Fitzgerald and Jane Wyatt, just to mention two. Grant's mother is one of my favorite actresses, Ethel Barrymore. She really has too much class for the part she plays. And the sets make you glad you don't have to live there. Still memorable, though, in spite of being so depressing.
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fine effort from Cary Grant
Robert D. Ruplenas17 March 2000
Thanks to American Movie Classics for bringing us this fine old film. With script and direction by Clifford Odets, success is almost guaranteed going in, and it is ensured in the event by the fine performances of Ethel Barrymore and Cary Grant, who in Ernie Mott plays one of his most substantial roles. Set in the underbelly of between-wars London, this multifaceted story has engrossing characters and a story that draws us in. The inconclusive ending puts it more or less in the category of 'slice-of-life' drama, but what a slice. Worth watching.
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Rough, tough Ernie Mott - Cary Grant's only Diamond in the Very Rough!!!
movie-viking5 August 2010
Tough guy Ernie Mott...and his life-battered widowed Mom (played by the great Ethel Barrymore-great aunt to Drew Barrymore) live on the bottom edge of London society. Ernie is the kind of guy who the law might sorta watch...but he does benefit from the counsel of a few older men he calls "Dad"...Will this Diamond in the Rough Ernie Mott make wise---or foolish choices??? The other reviews above suggest potent reasons why this is the best film the usually suave Cary Grant made. This really good film brings out the better reviewers!!! Grant, in real life a Cockney, had to usually play his "Smooth Romantic Leading Man" in too many movies...NONE but the Lonely Heart-is an exception! This film also enticed the great stage actress Ethel Barrymore into 10+ more years as a wonderful character actor. Tho no longer young, she absolutely dominates any scene with her wonderful old beauty and her elegant yet streetwise wisdom. (PS I heard that she was tough...She stood up to a abusive husband!) You get the sense of LOSS as the beginning narrative hints that Ernie Mott might well join the war dead of World War 2. (Movie is set just before WW2 erupts tho it came out in 1944.)

Mott's depth is hinted at...He fights with his mom, but sticks with her when he finds she has incurable cancer. When she is tempted to make a disastrous choice, he comforts her...As he ponders a car crash, his musical ear is so fine that he can name the stuck horn tone as "e flat". This drifter, tinkerer and piano tuner...draws you in..You care what happens to him! He is willing to stand up to a gangster (George Couloris) to marry the gangster's abused ex wife...Bravery is not a problem, tho Mott does seem to get in the way of the law.

Imagine that some wise WW2 military officer would have been glad to have the tough, rough Mott in his unit!
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Excellent movie, drama, comedy, different from the rest
chagia9 May 2005
Unique movie, fantastic, shows part of Cary Grant rarely seen.. even if just in a movie role. In the role of Ernie Mott, shows a rare side and if you're open to cockney accent and a rough neighborhood, well.. he's charm comes through .. even without the usual polish. A champion movie.. showing a hint of Cary Grant's background.. His change in heart for his mom and turnaround coupled with the difficulties of pre-war england. I suppose some might not like the lack of polish and some people can not get past a thick accent.. and the British slang from the rougher side of town... if you look past that and open up to the role.. you'll love this movie
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Grant's Coming of Age As An Actor - His "Nightmare Alley"
theowinthrop25 September 2007
Warning: Spoilers
Throughout his career, Cary Grant tried to shake off the comic leading man - sophisticate roles that he fell into. He eventually did get parts in thrillers like NORTH BY NORTHWEST and CHARADES, or serious films like PENNY SERENADE and AN AFFAIR TO REMEMBER showing a bit of edge, but up to his last film WALK DON'T RUN, he performed films that were mostly likable sophisticated comedies like INDISCREET. I suppose it was the flip side of being one of the best looking men in movies.

Hitchcock had tried to get him a villainous role in the original concept of SUSPICION, and the studio and Grant's agent vetoed it - so the plot of that film was rewritten to make him look innocent of Joan Fontaine's deepest suspicions. The nearest he got was in the film MR. LUCKY, where he is a shady gambler and swindler, and even can be really violent in a fight scene, but still turns up being more honorable than he originally intended to be.

In 1944 Grant was finally able (uniquely for his whole career) to play a movie role which, while hardly villainous, was far more realistic and tragic than anything else he ever played. Ernie Mott is his equivalent to Tyrone Power's "the Great Stanton" in NIGHTMARE ALLEY, the box office failure Darryl Zanuck allowed Power to make that showed he too was a fine actor. After NONE BUT THE LONELY HEART and NIGHTMARE ALLEY Grant and Power were taken seriously as performers by the theater going public.

Ernie Mott is a London cockney (which Grant originally was - but rarely got a chance to show on film), who lives with his mother Ma Mott (Ethel Barrymore - in her "Oscar" winning performance) in a second hands goods/minor pawn broker store. Ernie has been rather light hearted and thoughtless, never settling down to a profession. But there are few good professions for such as him. He's in an East London slum (a reference to Whitechapel in the film reminds me that this story of the 1930s is only half a century from Jack the Ripper's rampages). He has two girls in his life - the glamorous Ada (June Duprez) and Aggie, a cellist (Jane Wyatt). Both like him very much, but he admits to Aggie that he favors Ada a bit more.

Richard Llewelyn, who wrote HOW GREEN WAS MY VALLEY, wrote the novel for this film (screenplay version by dramatist Clifford Odets), and captures the spirit of that slum quite well. Ernie hates it, and wants something better, but can't concentrate. One day a family friend (Jewish pawnbroker Ike Weber - Konstantine Shane (THE STRANGER, VERTIGO)) tips off Ernie that his mother is dying of cancer. Ernie cleans up his act (he was about to see about prospects in Liverpool), and he starts taking over work from his surprised mother. But although the reforms bring him and the dying woman together, both worry about each other - and fall prey to temptations they really don't want to return to.

In Ma's case, she had been a leading fence for stolen goods for many years. If she will handle some more she can earn 500 pounds (in 1939 England a very tidy sum) to leave to Ernie. Ernie, as he dates the luxury loving Ada, finds he needs more money too. There is a snag here - Ernie's opportunity involves him with the local criminal gang boss Jim Mordinoy (George Coulouris). Mordinoy has always considered Ernie a potential gang member, but Ernie has showed little interest. Now Ernie's interested, but Mordinoy has close personal interests in Ada too - and is determined to maintain them whatever anyone (including Ada or Ernie) wants.

The film holds up very nicely, with Grant giving the best performance of his career (which did not even get noticed for an Oscar nomination). As mentioned Barrymore did get nominated as the loving but fearful Ma, and won her Oscar (making her and brother Lionel - A FREE SOUL - the only brother and sister "Oscar" winners in movie history to the present). Duprez is painful as a woman torn between real love for Grant and fear of Coulouris' vengeance. Wyatt is painful too, as she has to accept Grant's positioning her as "best friend" rather than girlfriend. Barry Fitzgerald comes into the film in it's middle as Henry Twite, a wise old fellow who does odd jobs and becomes a missing father figure to Grant (Ernie's father was killed at Verdun). Shayne, an actor of considerable strength, had a wonderful part here. Jewish pawn brokers were usually still subjects of humor in movies in 1944, but with rumors of the death camps coming up this was changing. His role of Ike is that of a decent human being in that area, who has to face Coulouris and his thugs at one point - and maintains our full sympathy.

I have to make a separate comment about George Coulouris here. I always like watching him, but too frequently his nervousness and short temper or his mental condition made his roles "over - the - top". I don't think Jim Mordinoy is anywhere near that - in fact, with Teck in WATCH ON THE RHINE this is his best performance. Mordinoy is not a ranter - he is quiet and direct and totally without scruple. He is far more dangerous (and smart) than the average thug, and one imagines that even at the end of the film he won't get touched by what happens to his minions. Grant's performance and Barrymore's are the best here, but Coulouris is equally good.

The title by the way comes from a song with music by Tschaikowski and words from a poem by Goethe. It was also played by Paul Lukas to Katherine Hepburn in LITTLE WOMEN.
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Cary Grant doesn't really fit the role
SnoopyStyle19 February 2018
Ernie Mott (Cary Grant) is an irresponsible vagrant roaming the streets of London. His father had died in the Great War. His mother (Ethel Barrymore) runs a small shop by herself. He plays the piano, fools around with a gangster's ex Ada Brantline (June Duprez), and has a friendship with nice neighborhood girl Aggie Hunter (Jane Wyatt). After learning about her mother's cancer, he stays to run the shop despite their combative past.

Ernie is not really an appealing character and that's tough to do for Cary Grant. I'm also annoyed by his relationship with Ada. I want more time with Aggie and have more love triangle action. The character would be appealing as an exuberant youth struggling to find his way in the world. Cary Grant was 40 by then. I can see this as a lower class melodrama like a Mike Leigh movie but Cary Grant doesn't really fit the role. It's interesting nevertheless.
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Odd Grant Mood Piece
harry-7619 July 2005
Warning: Spoilers
Not having read Richard Llewllyn's novel, upon which Clifford Odetts based this script, I can't comment on how successfully the transfer was made from book to screen.

However, what remains is a very odd, moody and atypical film for Cary Grant. It's probably the closest thing to an art film he ever did.

Knowing Grant's personal life, especially his childhood through adolescent experiences, I can understand his wanting to connect with Archie Leach and his deferred Bristol background.

Here was an excellent opportunity in the role of a Cockney drifter searching for a better life, amid the cultural squalor. It was probably a very therapeutic project in the actor's search for personal psychological closure.

Too, RKO obviously wanted ideal casting, and went to great financial lengths to secure Ethel Barrymore for the mother role.

The b/w photography, idiomatic sets and dark lighting are all appropriate and effective. Yet what finally resulted is a piece oozing with atmosphere and character study, yet strangely static in terms of dramatic thrust.

What's our hero's specific objective? We get it that he's dissatisfied and wants to move on. Is that enough, though, for a full length story? Where's the agenda? Does the fault lie in Mr. Odett's somewhat lackluster direction and writing?

Whatever the case, the viewer must steel up stamina to view this film. It's requires a lot of concentration and effort to understand the Cockney accents, character motivation and over all "message."

Still, if it helped Grant to stabilize and balance himself as an actor (and person) before going on to do such fine future work, we can be appreciative for this effort.
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dbdumonteil6 February 2012
Cary Grant is much too handsome,too aristocratic ,to play the part of this prodigal son and it is one of his more painful part.A loser he just cannot be.Ethel Barrymore ,on the other hand ,saves the movie ,with a balanced portrayal of a woman who ,in a way,as sonny says,exploits the others' poverty;and the most touching scene might be that of the cage ,when Grant gives the bird back to the woman in tears . Directing is static,trying to create an English atmosphere with fish and ships and pounds;but didn't they forget that cars run on the left in Albion ?(see the car chase) .Sometimes the music rises and we feel something important is about to happen :but nothing essential occurs.

All the elements of melodrama are present :a bad son,who will redeem his soul,a fatal disease,bad influences , a divorced girl with a little child,and even an imprisoned mom, but the mixture lacks consistency and even the final is not convincing ,being particularly gloomy.the hero's middle name is "Verdun" ,the French town where his father fights in WW1
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Witty and enjoyable
djohnson-1420 February 2003
Cary Grant is at his best in this movie. Witty yet dry humor helps to bring out the after-taste of Grant's persona. Grant plays Ernie Mott a fly-by-night rover who has a big heart. Give this movie a whirl and watch Grant rise above mediocrity.
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None But the Lonely Heart- A Desperate Bore **1/2
edwagreen24 January 2009
Warning: Spoilers
Am one of the very few who found this to be a dull, moody piece. The somber tone reflected here is just overbearing.

Ethel Barrymore gave finer performances than this Oscar-winning performance. How did a woman dying of cancer get involved with pick-pockets to begin with? Is it because of Mrs. Mott's illness that son, Ernie, played by Cary Grant, is forced to stay home and resort to crime?

Grant's acting is good here. There is no question about that. He could never have won the Oscar with Alexander Knox in the same category in "Wilson." Knox's loss to Bing Crosby in the best actor category was a disgrace of monumental proportions.

What exactly is Clifford Odets trying to show here? The downtrodden. Perhaps, if Ernie Mott had broken into a song, we would have had a better film. The dark dreary scenes were often very difficult to view.

What was the purpose of Jane Wyatt's appearance in the film? She loved Ernie deeply but it appeared that she could never capture his heart.

Barrymore enters the film in a brutish way. She slaps her son's (Ernie's) face and claimed she was too busy to love his father. What a ludicrous line that was.

As far as this film being one of Communist propaganda, what a joke that is. Even the Communists would be thoroughly bored and annoyed with this. They would view the Mott's as extreme capitalists and the jail-hospital, where Mrs. Mott resided, as a bourgeois place by comparison.
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Cary's vanity project flops for the reason vanity projects flop
Tilyou124 January 2007
The film supposedly involves Cary Grant playing himself on sets that evoke his impoverished English childhood, in an anguished drama involving a mother that evokes his anguished mother.

I don't know how much of the film had personal meaning to Cary (and how much of the meaning was generated by a publicity department, or imagined by fans) but the result is unsatisfying. Cary despite his genuine Cockney childhood is not convincing as a Cockney, and he comes across as the main wrong note in the film. Like the rest of the sentient universe I am a huge fan generally, and if one felt like arguing, one could argue that Cary's ineptness because it is so rare is revealing. It suggests a conflict -- seen especially early in the movie -- between being Cary Grant, being that English street character he spent his entire life disguising, and whatever this part required. So maybe something personal was at stake, but that's not necessarily the formula for a good movie, and here it isn't.

The sets are great though, in a dark "foggy old London curiosity shoppe" kind of way. Ethel Barrymore is... well, Ethel Barrymore and enough said. Eternally noble Jane Wyatt is eternally noble (but we love her that way); in fact everyone is fine, including the fog, played by itself.

Except Cary and the story.
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Excellent film set in working class London before the War
robert-temple-14 September 2011
Cary Grant reinvented himself as a Hollywood film star with an American accent, but before he did that, his real name was Archie Leach, from Bristol, and as English as they come. In this film, he returns to his roots and very successfully plays an Englishman. The film is a very moving and effective story about a young man reluctantly coming to terms with what it means to be responsible and sensible, and giving up a rather wild and unconstrained existence which was leading nowhere. It is superbly directed by the playwright Clifford Odets, who also wrote the screenplay, which is based upon a novel by the Welshman Richard Llewellyn, who is more famous for his novel HOW GREEN WAS MY VALLEY (filmed in 1941). This was one of only two films directed by Odets, the other being fifteen years later, THE STORY ON PAGE ONE (1959, which is such a bad film I did not bother to review it). However, this earlier directorial achievement by Odets was really one to be proud of, and totally works. The film takes its title from the famous song by Pyotr Tchaikovsky, a tune played by the character Aggie Hunter in the film, who is sensitively played by Jane Wyatt. Wyatt plays the cello herself on screen. The same theme tune is also played on the piano by Cary Grant, also really playing the instrument himself. Another excellent pianist/actor appears in the film, Dan Duryea, but he only has a small part and does not play any music. This film is remarkable for the stunning performance by Helen Duprez as a steamy and passionate gal who falls for Cary Grant. Helen Duprez is so amazing in this film that she equals Gloria Grahame for effortlessly conveying intense sensuality on the screen, just by the way she talks, looks, and moves. It is one of the great tragedies of the cinema that Helen Duprez's career misfired (see the account in her bio on IMDb), for she was truly in a class of her own. Anyone interested in the history of screen passion without bedroom scenes needs to study this performance, and see how it is done. Clifford Odets obviously knew how to get Duprez's magic out of her, by gaining her confidence and giving her the necessary encouragement. Although it was Ethel Barrymore, who played Cary Grant's mother, who got the Oscar for her performance in this film, that Oscar should really have gone to Helen Duprez. That is not to say that Ethel Barrymore's performance is not marvellous, for it is. She shows extreme subtlety in a part which a lesser actress would have played with broad strokes and would have hammed it up. This is a wonderfully successful film which deserves to be more widely known.
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A little better with repeated viewing
MartinHafer8 February 2009
It had been some time since I'd last seen this movie and reviewed it, so I watched it again this weekend. Surprisingly, the film definitely improved when seen a second time, though I must still admit that this film was a serious misfire for Cary Grant--almost as bad as his decision to make ONCE UPON A TIME--also in 1944.

Cary plays a character perhaps more like he was in real life. Born "Archie Leach" to working class parents, Cary for once gets to play a character more akin to his roots--not the suave and sophisticated upper or middle-class swell. Here in NONE BUT THE LONELY HEART, he plays a cockney guy in a film without a single cockney (or similar) accent!! His mother is played by Ethel Barrymore (an American) and one of his lady friends is Jane Wyatt (also an American). Barry Fitzgerald probably sounds closest to a cockney, but he's Irish. There were a few Brits on board as well (including Grant) but they all sounded too prim and proper and the total effect was "London-like"--having some of the attributes of the city but mostly seeming like a Hollywood back lot. Now considering that the city was in the midst of the Blitz, I really can't completely blame them, but so little effort was made in getting the details right that it annoyed me.

As for the story, it was interesting and quite a stretch--but it also ended on such a vague and unsatisfying note that I am not a big fan of the film. Depressing and at times seemingly pointless, it is nevertheless an interesting portrait of a very complex character--who is far more than what first meets the eye. Overall, an interesting failure with enough about it to make it a decent time-passer or a curio for the curious.
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I couldn't even make it all the way through this one - and I'm a huge fan of Grant!
PudgyPandaMan11 February 2009
This movie couldn't even get off the ground for me. It didn't seem to have much a plot to begin with that I could get wrapped up. I actually dosed off somewhere after the first 20 minutes.

It seemed such a miscast role for Grant. Known for his Rom-Com's and romantic leading men roles, this must have been his attempt to throw off the chains of typecasting so as to be considered a serious dramatic actor.

But I say, if it ain't broke, don't fix it. Why mess with what has worked so well for him in the past. Yes, I can understand an artist getting bored and wanting to expand their acting chops. But the public is who made Grant a star, so give the public want it wants! I think I could've taken Grant in a serious role, but it needed a much more interesting tale than this one to get me interested. As it was, it just seemed depressing and boring beyond what this Grant fan could handle. Sorry CG - I still love ya!
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The Last Time Grant Tried This
dougdoepke5 January 2015
The movie's a wildcard in Grant's otherwise debonair career. Here he's an aimless London slum-dweller, who thinks futility is just the way the world is. So why should he, Ernie Mott (Grant), try for anything better when the world's rigged for defeat. Still, Ernie's got an indulgent, if fatally ill, mother, along with two adoring girlfriends. They might help if he weren't so casual about their affections.

The movie's heart is in the right place, as lefty screenwriter-director Odets links the ease of crime with slum conditions. The trouble is it's hard to take Grant (age 40) as either youthful or poverty stricken (couldn't they have dirtied him up a bit). Maybe I've seen too many of his slick light comedies, but I just couldn't forget that this is the great smoothy playing against type. No doubt, he was trying to expand his range, but the choice of vehicles was unfortunate as he himself admitted.

The movie itself is about as dingy as any I've seen. The murky b&w is tediously unrelenting. Naturally, that emphasizes the slum-like conditions, but also serves a more practical purpose. Namely, the dimness masks the many studio-bound streets and sets that are about as cheaply done as any of Grant's many films. Frankly, between the unrelenting talk and bleak visuals, my attention wandered. Still, Jane Wyatt is fetching, Barrymore doesn't over-act, Fitzgerald is not too cuddly, while Grant tries his manful best. Too bad, the results aren't better— the 113-minutes could easily have profited by shaving off 20 of those.

Anyway, the movie remains more a bleakly done oddity than anything else in Grant's fabulous career.
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Unconvincing execution of an interesting story.
cliffjones1 July 2008
Maybe we're spoiled by today's almost flawless actors' regional accents and authentic background detail in studio scenes but the movie was spoiled for this Eastender by lack of attention to these matters.

None of the actors, including Cary Grant, had convincing Cockney accents. (He was raised in the West of England, where the local accent is very different from the unique Cockney dialect). Many didn't even try to camouflage their Yankee drawl. Dan Duryea working in a London Fish and Chip shop? Wasn't Stanley Holloway available?

Although the cars correctly drove on the left side of the road, few were English and even the license plates were not correct. For example, seven digit license numbers weren't introduced in the UK until 1963. Trivial maybe, but these distractions spoiled the movie for me. I can understand why it wasn't a box office success.

I bet it was hooted off the screen when it was shown in the real East End of London. Them Cockneys are an unforgiving bunch. And by the way, they call their mothers "Mum" not "Ma". Archie Leach must have known that.
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"They say money talks. All it's ever said to me is goodbye."
utgard1411 January 2015
Ne'er-do-well drifter Ernie Mott (Cary Grant) returns home to London, where he learns his mother (Ethel Barrymore) has cancer. He decides to stay and help her run her shop but falls in love with a gangster's ex-wife and turns to crime. The film directorial debut of playwright Clifford Odets is a dreary, unexciting tale with nice performances from Ethel Barrymore and a miscast Cary Grant. The character in the book this is based upon is much younger than Grant is in this. The part's rewritten with him in mind but still feels like it would have been a better fit for a younger man. Grant does a decent job, though. The supporting cast includes lovelies June Duprez and Jane Wyatt, as well as the great Barry Fitzgerald. Unfortunately, he's not utilized to his full potential here. It's an unmoving social drama that goes on too long and has some rather forced WW2 elements that feel tacked-on. There's also a stagy feel to things, in large part due to the talky script where one can easily imagine Grant or Barrymore speaking to an audience instead of the other characters in the film.
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A terrific script and some full blooded acting, though it is a bit stiff in retrospect
secondtake2 March 2014
None but the Lonely Heart (1944)

An odd but actually really interesting American movie set in London (and made on a huge soundstage built for the filming in California). At first you might twitch at Cary Grant's slightly affected accent—except that he grew up in working class London, though with a different neighborhood accent than this. His mother, played by Ethel Barrymore, doesn't even pretend at an accent, which is fine. She's tough as nails and she fights for her son's dignity with maternal hardness. "A breath of homeless wind," she calls him.

This makes sense in context—the movie is from the big turning point and gruesome zone of World War II. It seems the Germans are losing ground at last, and Britain, a short Channel away from enemy soldiers, is desperate to keep morale up. A final scene has some badly done shadows of planes falling on a third major character, as he and Grant look up at the sky.

There are a hundred great moments here, many of them in the clever, homey script (which is filled with old school aphorisms like, "They milk the cow that stands still"). And then there's the moment when Grant appears at the bottom of the stairs in a new striped suit. What a sight!

Underneath all this is a tender, sad, triumphant story amidst the ruins of this mother and son family. You can read it two ways. The first is simple: a gadabout young man hasn't paid much attention to his aging, widowed mother and the two have to find ways of getting to know each other again. Both of the leads are terrific actors, and though they might seem mismatched in style, they are decent enough to pull of this seesaw of emotions.

The other story is a social message about young men with skills coming to the aid of those who need them. In the bigger picture this means Great Britain in its fight against the Nazis. As the personal ups and downs fly around us while we watch (there is tumult of romantic and criminal activity), the bigger truth is developing—Grant's troubled character has to find some inner stability to make him a useful, happy human being. It's not about being a homeless wind after all.

Overall there is a stage-like stiffness to part of the film (Odets was a playwright above all), but it's so moving at times, and so well written at others, I recommend it anyway. A classic? No. But it helps fill in some gaps in Grant's career (he just finished filming "Arsenic and Old Lace") and it does satisfy some dramatic impulse in me.

An example of a great tidbit? Midway, Grant is making advances on the leading lady, and she rebuffs him flat. "Rolled a nice cold pickle jar down my back, you did," he says. A little later she says, "There's about twenty good kisses left in me but you'll never get one." Where the heck does this kind of great, old-fashioned, writing come from? The writer of the movie, of course, Clifford Odets, who also is directing. This is one of two movies the great writer directed. And this, in the end, is why to see it. He's not a terrific director, but he knows how to respect a good writer when it's himself. And there is so much that works here amidst the slightly awkward direction it's worth seeing.

For those who love old movies, that is. And for anyone trying to get a grip on the effect of WWII on England, and London, and regular folk.
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