None But the Lonely Heart ★★★½

Cary Grant and Ethel Barrymore are quite remarkable in this solemn, righteously angry exploration (based on a Richard Llewellyn novel) of a Cockney drifter's entrance into a life of crime after his mother becomes too ill with cancer to run the family store. It's long-winded and sags in the midsection after a terrific first act and after the relationship between mother and son loses some of its initial complexity, but the dialogue -- well adapted by writer-director Clifford Odets -- is consistently sharp and realistic, the whole experience subtle, unsentimental and impressively complete in its capturing of a decrepit slum life without romance or condescension. It's not every day you find a Hollywood film with a message that alternates between embittered socialism and sheer hopelessness, which today seems refreshingly timely. Being a great fan of Grant's I had wanted to see this for years but quietly assumed his most "serious" role would be something of a strain; I couldn't have been more wrong, and the film left me wishing he'd had more opportunities to demonstrate his depth as a dramatic actor. Apart from Notorious, this could be his finest, most emotionally rich performance.

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