David and Lisa

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David and Lisa
David and LisaB.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Frank Perry
Produced by Paul Heller
Written by Eleanor Rosenfeld
Theodore Isaac Rubin (novel)
Starring Keir Dullea
Janet Margolin
Howard Da Silva
Music by Mark Lawrence
Distributed by Continental Film Distribution
Release dates
December 26, 1962
Running time
93 min
Language English
Budget $183,000
Box office $2.3 million (rentals)[1]

David and Lisa (1962) is a small independent American film directed by Frank Perry. It is based on the second story in the novel Jordi, Lisa and David by Theodore Isaac Rubin; the screenplay, written by Frank Perry's wife Eleanor Rosenfeld, tells the story of a bright young man suffering from a mental illness which, among other symptoms, has instilled a fear of being touched in him. This lands him in a residential treatment center, where he meets Lisa, a similarly ill young woman who displays a split personality.

The film is shot in black-and-white, and it runs for 93 minutes. It cost $183,000 and returned over $1,000,000 in theatrical rentals during its first week in release.

David and Lisa earned Frank Perry a nomination for the 1963 Academy Award for Directing and one for Eleanor Perry for her Screenplay.

It was adapted as a stage play in 1967, but only played for a short time, and was remade as a television movie in 1998 starring Lukas Haas, Sidney Poitier, and Brittany Murphy.


The film starts as David Clemens (Keir Dullea) is brought to a residential treatment center by his apparently caring mother. He becomes very upset when one of the inmates brushes his hand, as he believes touches can kill him. Cold and distant, he mainly concentrates on his studies, especially that of clocks, which he appears to be obsessed with. We later learn that he has a recurring dream in which he murders people by means of a giant clock.

He meets Lisa Brandt (Janet Margolin), a girl who has two personalities: one of them, Lisa, can only speak in rhymes, while the other, Muriel, cannot speak, but only write. David befriends her by talking to her in rhymes. Following an argument with his mother when she comes to visit him, his parents decide he should leave the place. After staying at their house for a short time, David runs away and goes back to the residential treatment center, where he is allowed to stay. He has a small argument with Lisa, who turns on the metronome while another resident is trying to concentrate playing a Bach piece on the piano, causing Lisa, who's jealous whenever David spends time talking to anybody else, to run away, and she takes the train to Center City, Philadelphia, unnoticed by anyone.

In the final scene, David, who realizes she would go back to the Philadelphia Museum of Art, in which she had embraced a statue before, finds her. Lisa appears to be cured and doesn't need to rhyme anymore, and David allows her to hold his hand on the way back.


  • David Clemens – David is a young man played by Keir Dullea who suffers from a fear of being touched. He cannot stand to be touched by others. He is cold and chooses to be isolated from his peers. He has an obsession with time.
  • Lisa Brandt – Lisa is a young woman played by Janet Margolin. She suffers from a split personality. When she is Lisa, she is a four-year-old girl who can only speak in rhymes. When she is Muriel, she cannot speak, but only write.
  • Dr. Swinford – The doctor at the treatment center played by Howard Da Silva. He is an older, pensive man who manages to break through David's tough exterior.

Plot of the stage play[edit]

The play begins with David Clemens and his mother preparing to leave to bring David to "school". We later learn this is a school for children with mental and psychological issues. David's mother is overprotective and overbearing, and it shows. At the station, a porter touches David's arm, and we learn that David is afraid to be touched.

We meet a variety of teachers and other students, particularly Dr. Alan Swinford, the head psychologist, and are introduced to the school. We learn that David has an obsession with clocks, and also with death. We are also introduced to the other title character, Lisa, who has a split personality: one who will only speak in rhymes and the other who will not speak, but will only write or draw her thoughts. Over time, David and Lisa befriend each other, until midway through the play, after an embittering visit, David's parents take him away from the school.

David eventually runs away from his home and comes back to the school, where he is allowed to stay. One day, however, Lisa is annoying David as he listens to another child playing the piano. David becomes cross and shouts at her, and Lisa runs away from the school. David and the head psychologist, Dr. Alan, go out in search of her, and arrive just in time to save Lisa from the ravages of two boys in a city park. David and Lisa are both relieved that the other is there for them, and somehow Lisa is cured of her two personalities and becomes truly herself, speaking "plain straight" to David for the first time. David extends his hand and asks her to take it, conquering his fear of being touched, and they walk off together, hand in hand.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Top Rental Features of 1963", Variety. 8 January 1964, pg 71.

External links[edit]