- by ZoŽ
Ernie joins a gang of thieves, because he is bitter about the loss of his father, and the struggle
his mother has had operating a second-hand store. He is nearly caught, and
returns home to find his mother has become a "fence", in order to
get rich quick because she is dying of cancer.
- by Aileen Mackintosh
At the beginning of world war 2, Ernie Mott (Cary Grant) a
young cockney drifter, who embittered by the death of his father in WW1 and by the fact
his mother is struggling get by running a second hand store joins a band of thieves. When
he is nearly caught on one of the gang's escapades, he returns home. Here he finds his
mother (Ethel Barrymore) has been caught acting as a "fence" for stolen goods to
raise some cash quickly - as she knows she's dying of cancer - and is in a prison
hospital. Ernie then hopes that he can find a better life, and we see him at the end of
the film entering the house of his friend Aggie Hunter.
Personally this isn't one of my favourite of Cary's films,
possibly because it is rather more near reality than a lot of his other films. Cary does
bring a breeziness to his character though and he does do OK for the type of part.
Film Review - October 4, 1944
- by "Abel"
- submitted by Barry Martin
Based on the Richard Llewellyn novel, author-director Clifford Odets has fashioned a purposeful film which never quite comes off. There is a combination of circumstances against 'None But the Lonely Heart,' including some ofttimes
too-difficult-to-understand cockney dialects, and while it will get a fair share of
business, the cast names will account for it chiefly. Cary Grant, Ethel Barrymore (a not too frequent film player) and Barry Fitzgerald (quite a hot article since "Going My Way") are nobody's boxoffice poison.
'Lonely Heart' had the makings of a significant picture and it is suspected something happened in midstream. One may conjecture that Clifford Odets was cued not to get too "social conscious" and hence underplayed what apparently was the basic objective - the hope for a better world for the lowly man in the street.
Instead, with the sotto voce accent on any social significance, "Heart" emerges as a medley of simple romance in London's east side, interspersed with a little
melodrama. The meller phase doesn't bestir matters until almost an hour and a half from scratch when the limey hoodlums hijack Ike Weber's pawnshop and beat up the kindly loan broker.
Cary Grant starts as a shiftless cockney who lets his struggling mother (Ethel Barrymore) fend for herself with her small, secondhand shop beneath their dingy home until the pawnbroker-friend (well underplayed by Konstantin Shayne) tips him off that his mother is dying of cancer. For all of Grant's penuriousness he apparently has a way with the attractive young cellist, Jane Wyatt, and the divorced wife (June Duprez) of the London mobster (George Coulouris, who does one of his standard good jobs as the menace). Grant seemingly has his way with the not too affluent neighborhood shopkeepers from whom he cadges cookies, cigarets, etc.
When Grant sees the light and decides to cease vagabonding, he becomes an almost model son. An expert clock and furniture repairer and piano-tuner, he helps make his mother's little business thrive until he himself gets mixed up with the mob, while the mother succumbs to the temptations of dealing in stolen goods.
Barry Fitzgerald is introduced into the proceedings as the casual acquaintance who becomes a philosophical friend in need for all his eccentricity. Fitzgerald also acts as
counselor and lookout when the mob stuff figures in the plot.
The confusion of interests is what diverts fullest attention from Odets' purpose. When Miss Duprez takes the easiest way and returns to her ex-husband, the menace, and Grant succumbs to the Tschaikowsky strain, "None But the Lonely Heart," which clarions him back to the pretty cellist's affection, it makes for a purposeless conclusion.
There is some dialog about man bestirring himself to greater glory, and that one must fight to
preserve these rights (with a suggestion of the RAF overhead). There is also a sequence about the Unknown Soldier in Westminster Abbey,
dating from World War I. The action is pre-World War II, but seemingly not too far away.
Productionally the gaslight atmosphere of Whitechapel doesn't make for arresting cinematurgy. This, coupled with the long passages of sometimes static dialog, done up in cockney brogue, all tends to militate against fullest interest.
As offset to this, there are some deeply effective sequences, and almost always Grant, Fitzgerald and Misses Barrymore, Duprez and Wyatt and the rest make the most of them.
NEW YORK TIMES
Film Review - November 18, 1944
- by Bosley Crowther
- submitted by Barry Martin
A film of haunting
moods and desperate yearnings, of souls searching restlessly for
peace amid the drab and oppressive surroundings of London's
pre-war East End is RKO's production, "None But the Lonely
Heart," from the Richard Llewellyn novel, which came to the
Palace yesterday. And such a sensitive and warmly revealing and
poetically lovely film it is that one may feel wonder and
amazement at seeing it on the screen. Especially may one marvel at
Cary Grant in the leading role and be entranced by the
thoughtfulness of casting Ethel Barrymore as his excellent
For this is, frankly, an uncommon
picture. And if it comes as a staggering surprise to folks who are
accustomed to mere eye-wash, let no one abuse it therefore. The
screen is so ample in its helpings of pretty and shallow
"escape" that a film of profound human meaning should
prove a most stimulating change.
Happily, the fine Llewellyn novel
has been adapted and directed on the screen for all of its rare
and tender quality by Clifford Odets. The poignant and wistful
story of the Cockney wanderer, Ernie Mott, and his sad and
wonderful mother and their ever-hungry search for some sort of
spiritual fulfillment has been rendered in this film with all of
the beauty and feeling that one could hopefully expect.
And it is, too, a universal story -
this story of a willful man who finds that the good things of
living are not too easily come by and that love is eternally
elusive and that one has to compromise with fate. It is the sort
of tragic story that the Irish are wont to tell - or the Welsh,
from whom Mr. Llewellyn and his wonder sense of form and rhythm
In his adaptation and direction,
Mr. Odets has captured this rhythm and form through an excellent
use of dialogue and splendid consistency in pace. The rich
language used in the novel has been perfectly adapted to the
screen and an almost melodic progression of mood and action has
been handsomely achieved. Hanns Eisler prepared for the picture a
magnificent musical score and this has been worked, with sound and
image, into a symphonic entity. "None But the Lonely
Heart" is truly a specimen film, both in sight and sound.
Mr. Grant's performance as Ernie
Mott, the "tramp of the Universe" - the "citizen of
the Great Smoke" who was "barmy as the muffin man"
- is an exceptional characterization of bewilderment and
arrogance, and Miss Barrymore's performance as his mother glows
with beauty and spiritual fire. Barry Fitzgerald is delightful and
affecting as a friendly soul who passes in the night, and June
Duprez sheds an aura of pathos as a girl whom Ernie hopelessly
loves. George Coulouris is the very essence of cultivated
wickedness as a gangster who leads Ernie astray, and other
revealing performances are given by Jane Wyatt, Roman Bohnen and
Konstantin Shayne. Except that the Cockney identity is not
entirely suggested by all these folks, they have eloquently
presented such characters as the original author conceived.
It may possibly be that this
picture will not be widely accepted just now, but we are sure that
it will be remembered - and revived - long after many current
favorites are forgotten.
NONE BUT THE LONELY HEART is based on
the best-selling novel by the same name, written by Richard Llewellyn.
This is Cary Grant's 46th movie and the only time he will be directed by
Clifford Odets, and the only time he will star with Ethel Barrymore, who won
an Oscar for best supporting actress for her role as "Ma" in 1944,
and with June DuPrez and Jane Wyatt of TV's FATHER KNOWS BEST fame.
Cary will be nominated for an Oscar for best actor for this film (his second
nomination), but he will lose to Bing Crosby who won for GOING MY WAY.
Mr. Grant will not be nominated ever again for a performance (the greatest
oversight), but he will receive an honorary Oscar on April 7, 1970, for his
entire body of film making which span 34 years.
Ernest Verdun Mott has returned to his home town after a long absence and
his "Ma" played by Barrymore, tells him to either stay and work in
the store which will be his some day or get out. Ernie decides to
leave, but then he meets a new gal in his life, Ada, and after he discovers
that his mother is dying of cancer he decides to stay. This is a very
poignant story about a son and a mother, and this must have been very tough
for Cary to make since he had been separated from his own mother for over a
period of twenty years. At the time of this movie, they had been
reunited. Aggie Hunter (Jane Wyatt) loves Ernie unconditionally and
even though she sees him in love with another woman, she holds her head
high. In order to make ends meet, "Ma" has taken to fencing
stolen goods and Ernest has taken up with a gangster, each doing this
without the other's knowledge. In the end, "Ma" dies, Ada
returns to her former husband, and Ernie decides to go back to Aggie to find
the life he had been searching for all along. There are many neat
phrases that come from this movie, but I especially like "Everything
with a kiss," and "All roads lead to Ma this year."
When I first saw this movie. I did not understand it, but now that I have
seen it four times, the story is very clear, and it has become one of my
favorite Cary dramatic roles. On a personal note, Cary's marriage to
Barbara Hutton is in trouble, and they will separate on August 15, 1944, to
be reconciled temporarily in October, only to separate again on February 26,
1945, and to be divorced on August 30 of that same year. Cary
devastated by his second failed marriage engrosses himself in the role of
Cole Porter in his next movie NIGHT AND DAY.
- by Barbara
What a paradox this movie is. Arguably
Cary's finest dramatic performance (possibly equaled by his work
15 years later in Hitchcock's "North by N.W.", but in
the latter Cary had more opportunity to portray the kind of man
we had come to expect, romantic, humorous, sexy.)
Ernie Mott, the "hero" of
"None but the lonely heart" is none of these; a
product of the depression years in England between the two
world wars, a wanderer, a loner, ill-educated, street-wise,
intelligent, wary of relationships ( his only friend
"nipper" the bull terrier, who travels around England
Occasionally he returns to his home in
the east end of London where he shares a love/hate relationship
with his "Ma". (brilliantly played by Ethel Barrymore
who won best supporting actress Oscar). "Home is the back
of a 2nd hand and pawn shop, run by Ma Mott, who, unknown to
Ernie, has terminal cancer. Jane Wyatt plays the music teacher
who lives opposite. She loves Ernie despite his obvious
blemishes, but he is attracted to June Duprez, the "tarty"
ex-wife of gangster George Coulouris.
Becoming involved with the gang Ernie
is headed for disaster before the death of his "Ma".
and wise words from old friend Barry Fitzgerald drag him up
again. As we leave Ernie war planes are flying overhead and we
feel he soon will be part of the 2nd world war.
So what about the paradox?
Despite Grant's outstanding performance
and excellent work from the rest of the cast (even
"nipper"!) the film was not well received at the box
We didn't like the "new"
Cary. Compare Ernie Mott with Dex ("The Philadelphia
story") Walter ("His Girl Friday") or Jerry
("The Awful Truth").
The timing was wrong. World war 2 was
at its height and we wanted escapism on our screens.
Whatever the reason it didn't draw the
crowds. The final humiliation came on the night of March 15th
1945 at Grauman's Chinese Theatre. Cary had been nominated for
best actor Oscar: despite the movie's failure at the box office
his performance was amazing, tremendous. The moment
and the winner is - Bing Crosby for "Going My
What a travesty of justice!.
Penfriends welcomed - not on internet. Write to:- Barbara
Mercer. P.O. Box 165. Port MacDonnell South Australia 5291. Australia
Click here to read Jenny's Crackpot
Reviews at the Cary Grant Shrine
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