Subject: Truly a loss for this true Hollywood veteran comic actor who was wildly popular in MANY low-brow comedy roles of 1960s/70s TV and film roles. -For me he'll be forever rememered for his deaf/mute friend of Alan Arkin in 1968's "The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter", with a poignant performance! ...
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Date Posted:Sunday, April 08, 08:20:48pm In reply to:
's message, "Full obit text" on Sunday, April 08, 07:53:49pm
"The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter" is a 1968 American film adaptation of the Carson McCullers novel of the same name. It was directed by Robert Ellis Miller. It stars Alan Arkin and introduced Sondra Locke, both earning Academy Award nominations for their performances. The film updates the novel's small-town Southern setting from the Depression era to the then-contemporary 1960s.
John Singer (Alan Arkin) is a deaf-mute who works as a silver engraver in a small southern town. His only friend is a mentally disabled mute, Spiros Antonapoulos (Chuck McCann), who continually gets into trouble with the law since he doesn't know any better. When Spiros is committed to a mental institution by his family, John decides to move to a town near the institution in order to be near his friend. John finds work there and rents a room in the home of Mr. and Mrs. Kelly(Biff McGuire & Laurinda Barrett) as Mr. Kelly, who are having financial difficulties as a result of Mr. Kelly's recent hip injury.
Because the Kellys' teenage daughter, Margaret "Mick" (Sondra Locke) resents having to give up her room to him, John makes a few efforts to win her friendship. John also tries to become friends with Jake Blount (Stacy Keach), a semi-alcoholic drifter, and Dr. Copeland (Percy Rodriguez), an embittered segregationist African American who is secretly dying of lung cancer. Dr. Copeland's deepest disappointment is that his educated daughter, Portia (Cicely Tyson), works as a domestic and is married to a field hand.
Following a successful attempt to win Mick's friendship by encouraging her love for classical music, John visits Spiros, and although he takes his him out for the day, John is lonelier than ever when he returns home. Meanwhile, Portia and her husband are attacked and he is jailed for defending himself. Portia gets upset at Dr. Copeland for not perjuring himself to help bring out the truth about what happened in the fight. Dr. Copeland and Portia's relationship gets even more strained after her husband has his leg amputated after being placed in irons for trying to escape jail.
John gets them to reconcile after Portia learns from John of Dr. Copeland's illness. Mick willfully loses her virginity to the sensitive older brother of one of her classmates after she realizes that her father's injury has permanently disabled him and she will have to leave school and go to work in order to help support the family. Disturbed by her sexual initiation, she ignores John's request for some company. John goes to visit Spiros and learns that he has been dead for several weeks. After visiting his friend's grave and saying goodbye in sign language, John returns to his room and commits suicide. Some months afterwards, Mick brings flowers to John's grave and meets Dr. Copeland. As they talk, Mick asks questions "why did he do it?" and is determined to face whatever her future may be.