Thursday, October 15, 2015
Adam White (Montgomery Clift) importunes publisher William Shrike (Robert Ryan) to give him a job on the paper, but all he winds up with is doing the "Miss Lonelyhearts" column. Shrike verbally abuses his wife Florence (Myrna Loy) because of an indiscretion in her past, despite the fact that Shrike has had numerous infidelities of his own. Adam is engaged to Justy (Delores Hart) -- short for Justine, one supposes -- but he has an indiscretion of his own when unhappy wife Fay (Maureen Stapleton) discovers that he's "Miss Lonelyhearts" and asks if she can come see him at his apartment to talk about her troubles ... The best thing about Lonelyhearts is the acting, with Clift giving a superb performance, and Loy, Stapleton, Ryan and Hart providing excellent support. Ryan's character is in some ways incomprehensible, and while his performance may lack the spontaneity of Clift's, it is still quite effective. One can't quite understand why Florence stays with Shrike, however. The whole business with Stapleton seems contrived, and the story, despite some minor incidents, never seems to go anywhere. This is a shame because the characters are compelling and the acting memorable. There are interesting parallels in the picture, however: Adam's father (a very effective Onslow Stevens) is in jail because he murdered his adulterous wife and her lover; Florence cheated on her husband and Fay wants to do the same. Stapleton had done mostly television and stage work before being "introduced" in this film. Despite its flaws, this is better than The Day of the Locust, another movie taken from a Nathaniel West novel.
Verdict: A mesmerizing Clift easily outshines his material. **1/2.