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DEAR HEART (director: Delbert Mann; screenwriter: Tad Mosel/story “The Out-of-Towners” by Tad Mosel; cinematographer: Russell Harlan; editor: Folmar Blangsted; music: Henry Mancini; cast: Glenn Ford (Harry Mork), Geraldine Page (Evie Jackson), Angela Lansbury (Phyllis), Michael Anderson Jr. (Patrick), Barbara Nichols (June), Patricia Barry (Mitchell), Charles Drake (Frank Taylor), Alice Pearce (Miss Moore), Peter Turgeon (Peterson), Joanna Crawford (Zola); Runtime: 104; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Martin Manulis; Warner Home Video; 1964)
A pleasant offbeat romantic comedy about middle-aged opposites making a love connection against all odds.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

A pleasant offbeat romantic comedy about middle-aged opposites making a love connection against all odds, which takes place over two and a half days. It’s a film that remains mostly winsome despite going on for too long. It’s based on the story “The Out-of-Towners” by Tad Mosel. Director Delbert Mann(“Marty”/”The Bachelor Party”/”The Outsider”) shows sympathy to his decent loners in this ebullient production, and handles with great charm their strained romance.

Old-maid postmistress, Evie Jackson (Geraldine Page), a friendly, overbearing and insightful chatter-box from a small-town in Ohio, arrives alone by train for a Postmasters’ convention in NYC. Travel-weary middle-aged greeting cards traveling salesman, Harry Mork (Glenn Ford), wishing only to settle down to family life, also arrives on the same train in NYC to accept his marketing promotion and prepare for his upcoming marriage to the widow Phyllis (Angela Lansbury), from Altoona, Pa, and for family life in NYC. Phyllis’ college student 18-year-old son Patrick (Michael Anderson Jr.) surprises his future step-dad Harry by waiting for him at the hotel lobby. Harry has only seen a photo of Patrick when he was 13, therefore tries to adjust on the fly that he has a young adult son rather than a little boy.

Both Harry and Evie stay at the same luxury hotel, and meet without falling in love at first sight. Though having opposite personalities, we are manipulated into believing they eventually fall in love through their loneliness connection. Harry is flustered that Patrick takes over his room with his radical Bennington College girlfriend Zola (Joanna Crawford) and that leaves the gentlemanly Harry without a room and time to get to know Evie, who shares her room with him. With that, Harry determine if he wants the postmistress more than an immediate family and the shallow Phyllis.

Since I found the romance improbable and awkwardly executed, I couldn’t warm up to the story even though I’m usually a big fan of both Ford and Page. They performed well despite the constraints of the hokey screenplay, in an odd Marty-like story, which left me trying to grasp if the implied message flashed by the filmmaker was seriously meant to be that getting married is the best way to relieve loneliness for those willing to compromise in their relationship and is really the reason most people marry and not for love as the usual Hollywood sitcom tries to tell us.


Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”