When deaf mute Singer moves to a small city to be near his only friend confined in a hospital, he grows attached to his landlady's sensitive 16-year-old daughter.


Carson McCullers (from the novel by), Thomas C. Ryan (screenplay by)
Nominated for 2 Oscars. Another 3 wins & 9 nominations. See more awards »





Cast overview, first billed only:
Alan Arkin ... Singer
Chuck McCann ... Antonapoulos
Peter Mamakos ... Spirmonedes
John O'Leary John O'Leary ... Beaudine
Sondra Locke ... Mick
Biff McGuire ... Mr. Kelly
Jackie Marlowe Jackie Marlowe ... Bubber
Laurinda Barrett Laurinda Barrett ... Mrs. Kelly
Robbie Barnes Robbie Barnes ... Ralph
Wayne Smith Wayne Smith ... Harry
Richard Fingar Richard Fingar ... Sucker
Sherri Vise Sherri Vise ... Delores
Gavin Paulin Gavin Paulin ... Spareribs
Percy Rodrigues ... Dr. Copeland (as Percy Rodriguez)
Cicely Tyson ... Portia


Sentimental story centers around a deaf-mute, Singer, and Mick, a teenager who lives in the house where he rents a room. Mick and Singer become friends, though they are separated by Singer's lack of communication ability and Mick's struggle with teenage problems. The lives of the people Singer touches are varied, linked only by their friendship with Singer. His friends include a deaf-mute, a drunk, and a doctor. Singer does his best to help those around him solve their problems, but who is there to help him solve his own? Written by Melissa Portell <mportell@s-cwis.unomaha.edu>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


...and from this man who could not speak or hear, the girl heard many things. See more »




G | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

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Did You Know?


Film debut of Chuck McCann. See more »


When Dr. Copeland goes in to see Judge Bronson he enters via a swinging door with a glass panel in it. A member of the camera crew is reflected in the glass as it swings shut. See more »


Mick: Nice idn't it? All the other girls are wearin' ten-cent store perfume. I think it smells cheap. 'Sides, it costs too much. So I just swiped some vanilla extract from the kitchen! I figure if I don't smell sexy at least I'll be appetizin'!
See more »


Referenced in Alan Arkin: Live from the TCM Classic Film Festival (2015) See more »


The Color of the Wind Is Cold
Written by Dave Grusin and Hermine Hilton
Performed by Mac Davis
See more »

User Reviews

excellent, moving film
17 July 2004 | by keithstaitSee all my reviews

I have been fascinated by the work of Carson McCullers ever since I read THIALH. I have never visited America, and I find her depiction of small town life very evocative. Her writing style is weird to say the least and her life sounds even stranger. This story is without doubt her masterpiece. I read Reflections in A Golden Eye and The Ballad of the Sad Cafe. How did she come up with such wonderful titles? Anyway, The Heart .... is her best. This film captures the book perfectly in my opinion. OK, the story is not perfect. It doesn't fully deal with the adolescent development of the girl, or her relationship and sexual encounter with the gangly youth (remembering names is not my speciality). Also the Stacey Keach character doesn't really go anywhere. I know that Singer (really smart use of irony in his name) is the main character, and that everyone feeds off him (cf Paul Newman in Cool Hand Luke), and I think it is Alan Arkin's performance which really makes the film. What happened to Arkin anyway? After Catch 22 (also excellent) he didn't seem to do much else. Anyway, I have rarely seen a better film, and I am disappointed that it seems to be difficult to get the video, certainly in this country. Some people might say that it is rather soppy and over-sentimentalised, and I can see this myself, but it still makes my heart dissolve -I can't help it.

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Release Date:

31 July 1968 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter See more »


Box Office


$1,000,000 (estimated)
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Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:



Color (Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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