Review: ‘The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter’

Translating to the screen the delicate if specious tragedy of Carson McCullers' first novel was clearly not an easy matter. Nor an entirely successful one, either. The Heart is a Lonely Hunter emerges as a fragmented episodic melodrama, with uneven dramatic impact and formula pacing.

Translating to the screen the delicate if specious tragedy of Carson McCullers’ first novel was clearly not an easy matter. Nor an entirely successful one, either. The Heart is a Lonely Hunter emerges as a fragmented episodic melodrama, with uneven dramatic impact and formula pacing.

Alan Arkin’s starring performance as a deaf-and-mute loner is erratic and mannered, but supporting cast generally is on target.

Story turns on Arkin and his influence on the lives of others. Pivotal character is little more than a prop, but, as rendered by Arkin, a destructive one.

Arkin’s performance is marred by twitching mannerism. Result is slapstick at times, bathos at others. Suffice it to say that when the focus of attention returns to the main character, the pic has a tendency to fall apart.

The motivations of other characters are defined in better fashion, although the credibility of most is doubtful. Actors have an uphill fight, and to their personal credit they rise above the material.

1968: Nominations: Best Actor (Alan Arkin), Supp. Actress (Sondra Locke)

The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter

Production

Warner. Dir Robert Ellis Miller; Producer Thomas C. Ryan, Marc Merson; Screenplay Thomas C. Ryan; Camera James Wong Howe; Editor John F. Burnett; Music Dave Grusin Art Dir LeRoy Deane

Crew

(Color) Available on VHS. Extract of a review from 1968. Running time: 122 MIN.

With

Alan Arkin Sondra Locke Laurinda Barrett Stacy Keach Chuck McCann Cicely Tyson

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