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"None But the Lonely Heart"

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"None But the Lonely Heart"

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Character's Name: Ernie Mott
Release Date:  September 22, 1944
Director: Clifford Odets
Studio:  RKO Radio
Running Time: 110 minutes

Cast:  Cary Grant (Ernie Mott), Ethel Barrymore (Ma Mott), Barry Fitzgerald (Twite), June Duprez (Ada), Jane Wyatt (Aggie Hunner), George Coulouris (Jim Mordiney), Dan Duryen (Len Tate), Roman Bohnen (Dad Prettyjohn), Konstantin Shayne (Ike Weber), Eva Leonard Boyne (Ma Chalmers)

- by ZoŽ Shaw
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.

VARIETY 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 support.

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 have come.

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.

- by Kathy Fox
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 Mercer
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 with Ernie).

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 office.

Possible reasons:-

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 arrived:  - and the winner is  - Bing Crosby for "Going My Way" !!

What a travesty of justice!.

Penfriends welcomed - not on internet.  Write to:- Barbara Mercer. P.O. Box 165. Port MacDonnell South Australia 5291. Australia

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