Heart is a Lonely Hunter, The (1968)

Warner (Seven Arts)

Based on the first, acclaimed novel by Carson McCullers, “The Heart is a Lonely Hunter” stars Alan Arkin as John Singer, a deaf man who moves to a sleepy small town in order to be close to Antonapoulos (Chuck McCann), his institutionalized deaf and mentally impaired friend.

If John Singer could, hed tell you about his inner world of beauty and dignity. But the card he holds must speak for him. I am a deaf-mute. I read lips and understand what is said to me. Please do not shout.

After renting a room with a family, Singer begins to change the lives of its members, beginning with the father, Mr. Kelly (Biff McGuire), who's unable to earn a living due to a serious injury. Soon, Singers silent kindness and spiritual presence draw to him others broken in body and spirit.

The story's main relationship is between Singer and Kelly's teen-aged daughter Mick (Sondra Locke, in her film debut), who's at first resentful of the intruder's presence. However, Mick begins to change her mind, when he ingratiates himself by introducing her to classical music, which he can “feel,” if not hear.

Singer likewise tries to brighten the lives of such unfortunates as alcoholic Blount (Stacy Keach Jr., also making his first film appearance), a dying black doctor Copeland (Percy Rodriguez), and Copeland's poverty-stricken daughter (Cicely Tyson).

“The Heart is a Lonely Hunter” earned $5.9 million in box-office gross and Arkins performance earned him an Oscar nomination and New York Film Critics award for Best Actor in 1968. It was Arkin's second Oscar nod after earning a Best Actor nomination for the comedy, “The Russians Are Coming, The Russians Are Coming,” in 1966.

Oscar Alert

Oscar Nominations: 2

Actor: Alan Arkin
Supporting Actress: Sondra Locke

Oscar Awards: None

In 1968, the winner of the Best Actor Oscar was Cliff Robertson for playing the mentally challenged lead in “Charly,” and the winner of the Supporting Actress Oscar vet Ruth Gordon for playing a modern witch in Roman Polanski's “Rosemary's Baby.”

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