Only the Lonely (film)

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Only the Lonely
Only the lonely ver1.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed byChris Columbus
Produced byJohn Hughes
Hunt Lowry
Written byChris Columbus
Music byMaurice Jarre
Roy Orbison
CinematographyJulio Macat
Edited byRaja Gosnell
Peter Teschner
Hughes Entertainment
Distributed by20th Century Fox
Release date
  • May 24, 1991 (1991-05-24)
Running time
104 minutes
CountryUnited States
Box office$25.1 million[1]

Only the Lonely is a 1991 American romantic comedy-drama film written and directed by Chris Columbus, and stars John Candy, Maureen O'Hara, Ally Sheedy and Anthony Quinn. The film is a comedic take on the premise established in the 1953 television play Marty and the 1955 film Marty, while the title comes from the song "Only the Lonely" by Roy Orbison.


Danny Muldoon, a 38-year-old Chicago policeman, still lives with his overbearing Irish mother, Rose Muldoon. A lonely bachelor, Danny falls in love with Theresa Luna, an introverted, lonely girl who works in her father's funeral home as a cosmetician. On their first date, he takes her to Comiskey Park and has a picnic on the field. Their courtship eventually becomes very difficult because Rose begins to feel threatened that Theresa is trying to steal her son away; the fact that Theresa is not Irish (she is Sicilian and Polish) only exacerbates the situation.

Danny's brother Patrick tries to convince Danny to remain unmarried so that Danny and Rose can move down to Florida, where Danny can take care of her; Salvatore "Sal" Buonarte, one of Danny's married friends and a fellow police officer, tries to tell Danny that he can do better and not to settle down just yet, as he did. Because of this, Danny begins to feel guilty about his relationship with Theresa, especially towards his mother. This leads to his interrupting dates with Theresa to check on his mother.

When Theresa is finally introduced to Rose at a fancy dinner, Rose immediately begins to put her down. Theresa stands up to Rose, and complains to Danny as to why he didn't stand up for her. After Theresa leaves, Danny scolds his mother for being so cruel to Theresa, saying that her way of "telling it like it is" is really her attempt to hurt people. He then reminds her that she lost a $450,000 account for his late father's company by making anti-Semitic remarks. Danny then tells Rose that he will propose to Theresa, whether she approves or not.

That night, Danny apologizes to Theresa and proposes to her from the bucket of a Chicago fire truck. She says yes and the two are set to be married. However, even though Rose finally does approve of Theresa, on the night before the wedding, Danny calls to check on his mother in front of Theresa. Angered at the fact that they might never be alone, Theresa walks off. Both Danny and Theresa fail to show up for the wedding, thus, the two don't marry. A few weeks later, Danny's friends question what caused them to call off the wedding, but Danny gives no answer. When a family friend named Doyle passes away, alone with no wife or children, Danny realizes that he doesn't want to end up that way.

Finally, the day Danny and Rose are scheduled to move to Florida, Danny tells Rose that he can't let Theresa go and by leaving her behind, he'd be leaving behind the best thing that ever happened to him. Reluctant at first, Rose finally agrees to Danny's plan and goes to Florida without him, instructing her son to get married, have a family and be happy. Danny then goes to Luna's Funeral Home to look for Theresa. However, her father tells him that she left for New York City by train. Danny contacts the railroad station manager, who agrees to stop the train at a suburban station outside the city. There, Danny apologizes to Theresa and proclaims his love for her. He tells her that he will move to New York with her and join the New York City Police Department. Having no more guilt about his mother, the two re-board the train for New York to live the rest of their lives together.

Throughout the film, the Muldoons' Greek neighbor, Nick Acropolis - who has been encouraging Danny to pursue Theresa - attempts to woo Rose. Rose is salty towards Nick in the beginning, but as she gradually softens her stance regarding Danny's relationship with Theresa, she ultimately warms to Nick, who takes Danny's place on the flight to Florida to be with Rose.




Chris Columbus wrote the part of Rose specifically for Maureen O'Hara, but did not know that she had retired from acting and was living in the Virgin Islands. Columbus contacted O'Hara's younger brother Charles B. Fitzsimons, a producer and actor in the film industry, to ask him to send O'Hara a copy of the script, which he did, telling her, "This you do!". O'Hara read the script and loved it. She was reported to have replied to Fitzsimons, "This I do!". However, she would not commit until she met co-star John Candy.

Co-star Jim Belushi recounted this story: On the set of Only the Lonely, the producers stuck Maureen O’Hara in a tiny trailer. When John Candy complained on her behalf, he was told the budget was being spent on the picture, not on accommodations for old movie stars. Candy responded by giving O'Hara his trailer and going without one until the studio finally caved in and got a trailer for each actor.

John Hughes co-produced the film. This movie marked Macaulay Culkin's third film with Hughes and Candy (after Home Alone and Uncle Buck). Other than New Port South, it was the only film Hughes produced that he did not write.


Most of the film was shot on location in Chicago. Danny and Rose Muldoon's house is located at the intersection of Clark Street and Roscoe Street, as is the front façade of O'Neils' Pub. The inside of the pub was shot at Emmett's Pub, a Chicago landmark that was also used in Uncle Buck, another film with John Candy. At the request of producer John Hughes (a Chicagoan and big fan of the Chicago White Sox) and sports fan John Candy, the baseball stadium where Danny and Theresa's first date took place was arranged to be set at old Comiskey Park (home of the Chicago White Sox until 1990). Hughes hastily arranged the filming, as the stadium was slated to be torn down imminently. There is also a shot showing old Comiskey Park and the new Guaranteed Rate Field, the current home of the White Sox, under construction next door. Comiskey Park was located at the corner of 35th St. and Shields Ave., on the South Side of Chicago. The scene where Danny and Theresa kiss along Lake Michigan is located at Lincoln Park, Chicago, and the dinner scene was shot at One Ambassador East, also known as the Ambassador East Hotel, located at 1301 North State Parkway in Chicago's Gold Coast. The church scenes were filmed at St. John Cantius Church in West Town on 825 N Carpenter St.

The final scene with Danny and Theresa was shot at the Amtrak station in Niles, Michigan, which was renamed to Willoughby and decorated with Christmas lights for the filming.[2]


Roy Orbison's song "Only the Lonely" is played in its entirety in the movie's opening scene. "Someone Like You" by Van Morrison is played during one of Danny and Theresa's dates. "Dreams to Remember" by Etta James is played, also in its entirety. Also, "Pachelbel's Canon" is played briefly during the wedding scene. The film's original music was composed and conducted by Maurice Jarre.

The soundtrack album was released by Varèse Sarabande, featuring 28 minutes of Jarre's score and the songs "Only the Lonely" and "Someone Like You."


On Rotten Tomatoes the film has an approval rating of 64% based on reviews from 22 critics.[3]

Entertainment Weekly gave it a grade "C".[4]


  1. ^ "Only the Lonely (1991) - Financial Information". The Numbers.
  2. ^ "Niles, Michigan (NLS)". Amtrak. Retrieved October 25, 2015.
  3. ^ "Only the Lonely (1991)". Rotten Tomatoes.
  4. ^ "Only the Lonely".

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