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The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter (1968)

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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.

Writers:

Carson McCullers (from the novel by), Thomas C. Ryan (screenplay by)
Reviews
Nominated for 2 Oscars. Another 3 wins & 9 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Alan Arkin ... Singer
Chuck McCann ... Antonapoulos
Peter Mamakos ... Spirmonedes
John O'Leary John O'Leary ... Beaudine
Sondra Locke ... Mick
Biff McGuire ... Mr. Kelly
Jackie Marlowe Jackie Marlowe ... Bubber
Laurinda Barrett Laurinda Barrett ... Mrs. Kelly
Robbie Barnes Robbie Barnes ... Ralph
Wayne Smith Wayne Smith ... Harry
Richard Fingar Richard Fingar ... Sucker
Sherri Vise Sherri Vise ... Delores
Gavin Paulin Gavin Paulin ... Spareribs
Percy Rodrigues ... Dr. Copeland (as Percy Rodriguez)
Cicely Tyson ... Portia
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Storyline

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 <mportell@s-cwis.unomaha.edu>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

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

Genres:

Drama

Certificate:

G | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA

Release Date:

31 July 1968 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Das Herz ist ein einsamer Jäger See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$2,000,000 (estimated)
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono

Color:

Color (Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Unable to find white suits large enough to fit Chuck McCann, costumers had him wear old suits previously worn by studio character actor Sydney Greenstreet. See more »

Goofs

Carnival is supposedly taking place on a warm summer night judging from characters' lightweight costumes but actors' frosty breath can be seen in a number of shots. See more »

Quotes

Jake Blount: A-A mute? Christ! And all this time I just thought you was a good listener!
See more »

Crazy Credits

And Introducing

Sondra Locke

as Mick See more »

Connections

Referenced in Boy Meets World: The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter (1996) See more »

Soundtracks

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

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User Reviews

 
Sensitive, emotional, beautifully acted
28 July 2001 | by amoladSee all my reviews

This is a sensitively-made picture by all involved, with especially moving performances by Arkin and Locke, both of whom were Oscar-nominated. I saw it recently at a screening which was attended by Locke, McCann, Keach, and director Robert Ellis Miller. (The widow of cinematographer James Wong Howe was there, too, as the screening was part of a tribute to the great cameraman.)

After the screening, Keach told Miller that the movie had aged "like a fine wine." I think that's true. While the music and some aspects of the shooting style have dated (e.g., there are several zooms), the emotions of the story have not. This is a quite absorbing and affecting movie, and Arkin is simply astonishing in the way he is able to emote so much without uttering a word.

However, this movie overall feels good more in the way that a novel feels good, rather than the way that an originally-written movie does. I believe it has to do with the structure of the story, which is episodic and delves into several characters' points of view without a truly unifying visual thread. In other words, it feels literary. (This is analagous to movie adaptations of plays suffering from "staginess," which they almost always do. The problem is not as common with novel adaptations, but it still happens. Even "To Kill a Mockingbird" suffers somewhat from this problem.)

Still, the film is beautifully shot by the great James Wong Howe, and again, the performances overcome the inherent script problems to make this a satisfying experience.


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