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Learning Difficulty

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Recommended by Title

Recommended by Disability

Learning Difficulties (Mental Retardation): Major Films  
TitleHeart is a Lonely Hunter, The (1968)
Alternative/Original Title
DisabilityDeaf Learning Difficulty Limb Wheelchair Alcoholism
CountryUSA
Length125
GenreDrama
Rating3
DirectorRobert Ellis Miller
CastAlan Arkin Sondra Locke Laurinda Barrett Stacy Keach Chuck McCann Cicely Tyson Biff McGuire
NotesAnother story of how someone disabled changes the lives of those around him/her. Alan Arkin plays a man who is deaf and speaking impaired who has a friend with learning difficulties. To be near his friend when the latter is admitted to a mental hospital he moves. The father at the house he moves into is in a wheelchair with a hip problem (which by the end of the film is diagnosed as permanent). The young daughter has aspirations and thinks Arkin will be her mentor. Arkin takes pity on an alcoholic who becomes his friend and is later reformed. The alcoholic is beaten up and treated grudgingly by a black doctor who hates all whites. But then he asks Arkin to help him communicate with a black patient who is a deaf, speaking impaired and also in a wheelchair. Interestingly much the sign language is not translated to us the audience. Arkin accidentally discovers the doctor has cancer and is the only person to know this. Then the boyfriend of the doctor's daughter (she is a rebel against his aspirations for her) loses a leg when he's put in gaol in leg irons. At the end after the loss of his friend with learning difficulties Arkin shoots himself. As you can see this film has nearly every disability in the book plus class aspiration, racism and protest. In the end, I think, it has nothing much. It tries too hard, it's pretentious, it's too earnest; and we don't get involved. We don't feel for all these people. And Arkin's performance which needs to be good to link all the themes is a monotone. Potential lost. From Carson McCullers' novel of the same name.

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