Dear Heart (1964): Romantic Comedy, Starring Geraldine Page and Glenn Ford

Dear Heart was written by Tad Mosel, from his story, originally penned as a teleplay for a May 1957 Westinghouse Studio One episode, “The Out-Of-Towners,” starring E.G. Marshall and Eileen Heckart.

In this romantic comedy, a middle-aged small-town postmistress, played by Gerladine Page (in a solo leading lady role), goes to a post-office convention in New York and falls in love with an engaged man, played by Glenn Ford.

His fiancee is a widow with a teenage son. The man really wants a family, but he also really wants the postmistress.

Director Delbert Mann made this mediocre film in the mold of his 1955 Oscar-winning Marty.

The supporting ensemble includes Angela Lansbury, Alice Pearce, Mary Wickes, and Richard Deacon.

Oscar Nominations: 1

Song: Dear Heart, music by Henry Mancini, lyrics by Jay Livingston and Ray Evans.

Oscar Context:

The Oscar winner was the popular song, Chim Chim Cher-ee, from Mary Poppins.

Detailed Plot

Geraldine Page plays Evie Jackson, a single middle-aged postmaster from Ohio who is attending a convention in NYC. Outgoing, honest, and tactless, she yearns for a romantic relationship that will be more meaningful than the flings she has had with married men.

She reies to make herself feel less lonely and more important, by sending herself a welcome message and having herself paged in the hotel lobby.

Cut to Harry Mork (Glenn Ford), a womanizing former traveling salesman for a greeting card company, who wishes to settle down. Harry has accepted a promotion to an office job in New York, and has gotten engaged to Phyllis (Angela Lansbury), a middle-aged widow from Altoona, Pennsylvania.

Harry is staying in the same hotel as Evie while finding apartment for him and Phyllis. Phyllis’s son Patrick (Michael Anderson, Jr.) suddenly arrives, seeking to bond with his new father. Harry is surprised to find that Patrick is not the young boy but a bohemian with a beard (which got him expelled from school). Harry is annoyed by and embarrassed by Patrick’s casual attitude towards women and sex, particularly after Patrick moves into Harry’s room with his female friend, Émile Zola Bernkrand (Joanna Crawford).

Evie meets Harry when they are forced to share a dinner table in the crowded hotel restaurant, but Harry is more interested in buxom blonde hotel shop clerk June Loveland (Barbara Nichols) than in Evie, and quickly makes an excuse to leave for a tryst with June.

Back at the hotel, Harry meets Evie again in the lobby. She is upset after escaping from the unwanted sexual advances of a strange man. Evie and Harry end up enjoying each other’s company over drinks in the courtyard of an Italian restaurant, and make a date. However, the next morning Patrick shows up again wanting to spend the day with Harry, so Harry breaks his date with Evie to go look at apartments. A disappointed Evie spends the day with a trio of older spinster postmasters, but cheers up when Harry returns, offering to take her to dinner.

Evie is crushed when she realizes that Harry is really planning to live there with Phyllis, who unexpectedly arrives from Altoona. Evie arranges to return to Ohio, but things change when Phyllis wants to live in modern hotels with room service, where she won’t have to cook or clean, and to sleep in separate beds. She also wants Harry to be a father to Patrick so she won’t have to deal with her troubled teenager.

As expected, Harry realizes that he truly loves Evie, breaking off his engagement. He reunites with Evie at the train station just before she is about to return home.

Cast

  • Glenn Ford as Harry Mork
  • Geraldine Page as Evie Jackson
  • Angela Lansbury as Phyllis
  • Michael Anderson, Jr. as Patrick
  • Charles Drake as Frank Taylor
  • Richard Deacon as Cruikshank
  • Barbara Nichols as June Loveland
  • Mary Wickes as Miss Fox
  • Ruth McDevitt as Miss Tait
  • Alice Pearce as Miss Moore
  • Joanna Crawford as Émile Zola Bernkrand
  • Patricia Barry as Mitchell
  • Neva Patterson as Connie Templeton

Credits

Running time: 114 minutes.

Directed by Delbert Mann

Written by Tad Mosel

 

The film, which had a budget of $ 1.8 million, shot from October 3 to November 22, 1963. The opening and closing scenes in Penn Station took advantage of just-commenced demolition process of the above-ground structures.

Henry Mancini felt that the gentle romantic film deserved a theme song, and he wrote the music. Jay Livingston and Ray Evans came up with the lyrics and title for the song based on their reading of Page’s character. The film’s original title was The Out-of-Towners, but when producer Martin Manulis heard the theme song, he changed the title to Dear Heart.

Mancini, who had 50 percent interest in the film’s theme song with Larry Shayne, asked studio head Jack L. Warner to release the film so that it would qualify for the 1964 Oscars. Warner agreed to release it for a week in Los Angeles, if Mancini and Shayne would pay 19,000 for the local advertising, and the duo e agreed to do so.

The film premiered on December 3, 1964, in L.A. to qualify it for the 1964 Oscars, but went into general release at NY’s Radio City Music Hall, on March 8, 1965.