Director Robert Ellis Miller’s truly affecting 1968 drama is remarkable for the touching performance of young Sondra Locke (aged 24), who was Oscar nominated as Best Supporting Actress in her promising début as Margaret ‘Mick’ Kelly, suffering the pains of growing up.
Mick is a teenage waif in a US Southern town who befriends a suicidal deaf mute (played by Best Actor Oscar nominee Alan Arkin) also rooming at the boarding house where she lives.
Arkin delivers a great performance as the deaf mute hero John Singer imagined by Carson McCullers in her source novel. Stacy Keach scores too in his first film as the town drunk, Jake Blount. Miller’s beautifully crafted work is a lovely, moving, low-key film that captures much of the flavour of this special McCullers book. It is a sweet and warm movie, special in its own right.
Also in the cast are Laurinda Barrett, Chuck McCann, Biff McGuire, Percy Rodriguez [Rodrigues], Cicely Tyson, Jackie Marlowe, Johnny Popwell, Robbie Barnes, Richard Fingar, Sherri Vise, Gavin Paulin, Peter Mamakos, John O’Leary and Wayne Smith. It is written by Thomas C Ryan, photographed by James Wong Howe, produced by Joel Freeman and scored by Dave Grusin.
Locke’s husband Gordon Anderson heard Warner Bros was holding open casting for a young actress to play Mick and helped her research the part. Gordon bleached Locke’s eyebrows for the audition, bound her breasts and fixed her hair, makeup and outfit to impress casting agents. Locke lied about her age to seem younger and, after several callbacks, was hired.
Locke was never again Oscar nominated. Arkin eventually won a Best Supporting Actor Oscar for Little Miss Sunshine (2006).
© Derek Winnert 2016 Classic Movie Review 4153
Check out more reviews on http://derekwinnert