Heart is a Lonely Hunter (1968): Warner Directors Showcase

Warner (Seven Arts)

Warner Home Video (WHV) brings out on January 8, 2008 “Directors Showcase: Take Three,” a third group of films honoring directorial greats with first-time DVD releases of “Personal Best,” “Tell Me a Riddle,” “The Heart is a Lonely Hunter,” “Payday,” and “The Ritz.” Featured directors include Robert Towne, Lee Grant, Robert Ellis Miller, Daryl Duke and Richard Lester. The films have all-new transfers and select titles include bonus features such as commentaries and additional scenes.

The Heart is a Lonely Hunter (1968)

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.