Cary Grant in None But the Lonely Heart (1944)


(director/writer: Clifford Odets; screenwriter: from the novel by Richard Llewellyn; cinematographer: George Barnes; editor: Roland Gross; music: Hanns Eisler; cast: Cary Grant (Ernie Mott), Ethel Barrymore (Ma Mott), June Duprez (Ada), Barry Fitzgerald (Twite), Jane Wyatt (Aggie Hunner), Dan Duryea (Len Tate), George Coulouris (Jim Mordinoy), Konstantin Shayne (Ike Weber), Morton Lowry (Taz), Roman Bohnen (Dad Pettyjohn); Runtime: 113; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: David Hempstead; RKO; 1944)
“This depressing and moody melodrama marks the directorial and screenwriting debut for playwright Clifford Odets.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

This depressing and moody melodrama marks the directorial and screenwriting debut for playwright Clifford Odets (“The Story on Page One”). It’s based on the downbeat novel by the Welshman Richard Llewellyn. The soap story had great performances by the debonair 40-year-old Cary Grant, taking a rare turn in a dramatic role from his usual romantic comedies, and from Ethel Barrymore, who won an Oscar for Best Supporting Actress. It also had great shadowy atmospheric camerawork by George Barnes. But the film suffers from a pretentious dialogue, being overly sentimental and veers between getting the cockney scene right and making it look like a phony Hollywood take on London’s East End. The public didn’t buy into it, and it was a commercial flop.

In the 1930s cockney drifter Ernie Mott (Cary Grant) returns to live with his poor widowed mum (Ethel Barrymore), who runs a second-hand furniture shop in the slums of the East End. Ready to hit the road again after a spat with mum over his disappointing behavior and inability to stay put, the kindhearted neighbor pawnbroker Ike Weber (Konstantin Shayne) clues him in that his mum is dying from cancer. Ernie turns over a new leaf and runs the shop and romances the new love in his life Ada (June Duprez). But soon finds love is elusive, as Ada has a child and was recently married to local small time gangster Jim Mordinoy (George Coulouris) who won’t let go of her. When both loving mum and son are overcome with their poverty, they are led astray by shady types as tragedy befalls them.