Original Theatrical Poster
|Directed by||Vincent J. Donehue|
|Produced by||Dore Schary|
|Written by||Dore Schary|
|Based on||Miss Lonelyhearts
by Nathanael West
|Music by||Conrad Salinger|
|Edited by||John Faure
|Distributed by||United Artists|
Lonelyhearts, also known as Miss Lonelyhearts, is a 1958 drama film directed by Vincent J. Donehue. It is based on the 1957 Broadway play by Howard Teichmann, which in turn is based on the 1933 novel Miss Lonelyhearts by Nathanael West.
The film stars Montgomery Clift, Robert Ryan, Myrna Loy, Jackie Coogan, Dolores Hart, and Maureen Stapleton in her first film role. Stapleton was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress as well as for a Golden Globe for her performance as Fay Doyle.
The story opens on a small-town street. A man throws a bundle of papers onto the sidewalk from the back of a truck labeled Chronicle. Adam White (Montgomery Clift) is sitting in a bar when a woman (Myrna Loy) offers him a drink. He refuses, explaining that alcohol seems to be poisonous to him. After talking with her for a while, he learns she is married to William Shrike, Editor-in-Chief of the Chronicle, where Adam is hoping to work. The editor shows up to meet his wife only to find her talking with Adam. When Shrike (Robert Ryan) asks how Adam found him, Adam explains: "I heard there was a bar where newspaper people hang out. I came here since it is the closest to the Chronicle, the only paper in town". Florence Shrike says Adam can write, and he deserves the chance to prove it. Shrike retorts: "OK, so write!" Adam hems and haws momentarily, but then delivers the following story: "The Chronicle is pleased to announce the addition of a new member to our staff. He met the Editor in Chief, who went so far as to insult his own wife in an effort to provoke the new staff member. Instead of punching the editor in the face, he accepted a position on the paper."
Adam tells his girlfriend Justy (Dolores Hart) about his new job. He doesn't tell her about his father, a man named Lassiter, who is doing 25 years in prison for having murdered Adam's mother and her lover. On his first day at the newspaper, Adam is astounded at being assigned the "Miss Lonelyhearts" advice-to-the-lovelorn column. One of his colleagues, reporter Ned Gates, is disappointed, having wanted that column for himself, while another, Frank Goldsmith, openly mocks the readers who seek the column's heartfelt advice.
After a few weeks, Shrike refuses a request by Adam to give him a different assignment. He also insists that Adam personally contact the letter writers to substantiate their stories. Adam randomly selects a letter from a Fay Doyle and meets her. She relates how her husband, Pat, came home from the war crippled and impotent. As they share a lonely moment, Adam and Fay are briefly thrown together romantically. When he declines meeting her a second time, she is furious.
Adam decides to leave the newspaper for good. Justy's father offers her a trust endowment to get their new life under way. At a party in the bar, Pat Doyle turns up with a gun. Adam manages to talk him out of using it. He leaves, whereupon Shrike decides to buy some flowers for his own neglected wife.
- Montgomery Clift as Adam White
- Robert Ryan as William Shrike
- Myrna Loy as Florence Shrike
- Dolores Hart as Justy Sargeant
- Maureen Stapleton as Fay Doyle
- Jackie Coogan as Ned Gates
- Mike Kellin as Frank Goldsmith
- Onslow Stevens as Mr. Lassiter
- Frank Maxwell as Pat Doyle
- Frank Overton as Mr. Sargeant
- John Gallaudet as Johnny, Bartender
- Don Washbrook as Don Sargeant
- Johnny Washbrook as Johnny Sargeant
- J.B. Welch as Charlie
- Mary Alan Hokanson as Edna
Background and production
Nathanael West's 1933 novel, on which this film was based, was adapted for the screen in 1933 as Advice to the Lovelorn starring Lee Tracy. It was made by Twentieth Century Pictures, distributed by United Artists, and directed by Alfred L. Werker from a screenplay by Leonard Praskins. The 1933 film was more of a comedy-drama than this version.
Howard Teichmann adapted the novel into a stage play, entitled Miss Lonelyhearts, which opened on Broadway at the Music Box Theatre on October 3, 1957. The production, directed by Alan Schneider and designed by Jo Mielziner, ran for only twelve performances.
- Lonelyhearts on Broadway accessed 8-14-2015