Saturday, June 06, 2020

Tonight's Movie: Dear Heart (1964) - A Warner Archive DVD Review

Glenn Ford and Geraldine Page star in DEAR HEART (1964), a sweetly funny romance available on DVD from the Warner Archive.

DEAR HEART was released by the Warner Archive several years ago, but as with all their releases, it remains easily available since it's manufactured on demand. The film had been recommended to me by several people, and it was finally time to catch up with it! I'm happy to say it did not disappoint.

Ford plays Harry, a greeting card salesman from Altoona, Pennsylvania, who is staying in the same New York City Hotel as Evie (Page), a postmistress from a small town in the same state who is attending a convention.

Harry is a former playboy type who is finally ready to embrace domesticity. He's just become engaged to Phyllis (Angela Lansbury) and eagerly tells a colleague about Phyllis's big family and ability to cook for a crowd at Thanksgiving. He's looking forward to having relatives and becoming a father to Phyllis's son Patrick (Michael Anderson Jr.), who's been away at school.

Harry has a surprise coming when Patrick leaves school and shows up at Harry's hotel; it turns out that Patrick is a young man who is considerably older than Harry had seen in the photo provided by Phyllis, and he's a handful.

Evie is a quirky type who's never met a stranger and embraces the little joys of life; her idiosyncrasies include having herself paged in the hotel lobby, for the thrill of hearing her name called, and sending a note ahead of time to greet herself when she checks in at the hotel.

Despite her helpful and friendly nature, deep down Edie is lonely and longing to connect with someone special on a deeper level, but it just hasn't happened. At a previous convention she had a brief fling with a married man named Frank (Charles Drake) but realized she wasn't willing to settle for that type of relationship and spurns him when he approaches her shortly after her arrival.

Harry and Edie meet by chance in the crowded hotel restaurant and enjoy getting to know one another; she muses that Harry's greeting cards must have traveled through her post office! Edie wants to believe that Phyllis is someone Harry's made up to protect himself and becomes hopeful of a relationship as Harry shows interest in spending time with her.

Harry for his part is charmed by Edie's honesty and happy nature, as well as the enthusiasm she shows for the charming little apartment he's just rented in New York City; he's recently received a promotion which will enable him to get off the road and settle down. Edie would love nothing more than making a comfortable home for the man she loves...who increasingly appears to be Harry.

And then Phyllis arrives in town to surprise Harry...and he quickly realizes that just as he is ready to change and settle down, Phyllis also wants a new life: She wants to stop doing for others, live in a hotel with room service, and rely on Harry to straighten out her son's life. She's not even particularly concerned or at all jealous that Harry was in Evie's hotel room when she arrived; she doesn't so much want a romantic relationship with Harry as she wants someone to take care of her.

It's apparent that Harry and Phyllis don't have common goals...but he and Edie do. What next?

This was a charmer, with both Ford and Page at their best. Page's character in particular is wonderfully developed; the viewer feels both the joy with which Evie embraces simple things and the awkward loneliness she sometimes feels in the middle of a crowd. At times Evie almost comes on to people too strongly, talking like a chatterbox, but in the end her kindness wins people over; she learns the names of every person she encounters and takes the time to thank them and offer them kindnesses. A scene where she checks out of the hotel, thanking every person on the staff, surprised me as one of the most moving sequences.

The film is also "laugh out loud" funny at times; a scene where Phyllis encounters Miss Loveland (Barbara Nichols), a hotel employee with whom Harry has had an ill-fated tryst, had me in stitches, as did a scene where Harry checks into the same hotel with a different "wife." Ford has some terrific comedic expressions during these sequences, and he's believable as the one-time love 'em and leave 'em type who, like Edie, has hit mid-life and realizes he wants deeper connections and a family. His evening with Miss Loveland cements his realization about the emptiness of his past lifestyle.

DEAR HEART was a happy 104 minutes which turned out to be just the kind of amusing yet heartwarming movie I needed to see right now, and I recommend it.

There are a number of fun faces in the film, including Richard Deacon and both actresses who played Gladys Kravitz on TV's BEWITCHED, Alice Pearce and Sandra Gould. Also on hand are Mary Wickes, Ken Lynch, Ruth McDevitt, and Doris Roberts.

DEAR HEART was directed by Delbert Mann from a script by Tad Mosel, based on Mosel's own story. The widescreen black and white cinematography was by Russell Harlan.

The Warner Archive DVD is a lovely print with excellent sound. The disc includes the trailer.

Thanks to the Warner Archive for providing a review copy of this DVD. Warner Archive releases are MOD (manufactured on demand) and may be ordered from the Warner Archive Collection at the WBShop or from any online retailers where DVDs and Blu-rays are sold.


Anonymous filmperlen said...

I LOVE the Warner Archive Collection!! There are soo many discoveries to make, so many rare finds...!
Thank you for posting this review - that's another film I never heard of but desperately want to see after having read your text.

2:10 AM  
Blogger Caftan Woman said...

How could anyone not fall in love with a movie that has the line: "Emile Zola, put your clothes on!"?

5:33 AM  
Blogger Laura said...

Filmperlen, I agree, the Warner Archive Collection is very special, and I'm glad to be able to review so many of their films. I hope you'll be able to watch it soon. (Also, I enjoyed checking out your blog and will visit again in the future!)

Caftan Woman, it has a number of delightful little moments, doesn't it? So enjoyable.

Best wishes,

9:12 AM  
Blogger Seth said...

Well, just when I think I'm making a dent in my ClassicFlix queue, you go and review something else I need to add to it....

1:02 PM  
Blogger Rick said...

I remember when I was 14 or so, seeing the trailer for this several times. I was, for some reason, conflicted about seeing it. It looked like a good movie...but not the kind of movie a teenage guy would necessarily enjoy. So I didn't see it, but it stuck in my memory.

Decades later, I finally caught up with it and was quite taken with it. I was especially pleased that Glenn Ford, a personal favorite of mine, a good actor but first and foremost, a Movie Star, actually matched up so well with Geraldine Page, one of the America's greatest actresses ever, but pure Theater.

They made for a wonderful couple, and I was delighted that Ford was so capable and comfortable playing in Ms. Page's Great Actor's ballpark.

If I'd seen this when I was a teenager, I probably wouldn't have appreciated it as much, but I think I'd have still enjoyed it mightily.

1:04 PM  
Blogger Laura said...

Hi Seth! Always happy to help you lengthen that queue LOL. So many movies, so little time...

Rick, I enjoyed your memories about DEAR HEART. I really wasn't sure what to expect and was even a bit concerned it might turn out to be one of those widescreen B&W movies of the late '50s/early '60s which takes itself too seriously as a Very Important Film...but that wasn't the case at all. As you note, Ford and Page were really fun to watch together and had excellent chemistry. Their characters were such that I wished I could have "turned the page" and kept going to see where they went next. Really enjoyed it and glad to know you have as well.

Best wishes,

1:53 PM  
Blogger Hamlette (Rachel) said...

I've only seen this once, several years ago, and I really liked how they presented a socially awkward woman as a kind and warm person instead of just playing her for laughs. I need to see it again, as I mostly just remember thinking that her portrayal was really refreshing. (And, you know, that Glenn Ford could charm the spines off a cactus if he wanted to, but I knew that already.)

1:50 PM  
Blogger Laura said...

Rachel, what a great way to describe how the film presents Edie. I really liked that she's basically a "normal" person -- awkward yet really nice. It was indeed freshing, and Ford was definitely charming in this. I would have liked to see their characters embarking on life together!

Best wishes,

11:27 AM  
Blogger Fredrick Tucker said...

DEAR HEART has been one of my very favorite films since first seeing it on "the late show" in 1975. I was drawn to it because of my passion for character actors (and it's packed with them!), but now I appreciate more and more the touching characterization by Miss Page and the masterfully subtle Mr. Ford. I can listen to Mancini's lilting theme song over and over. I'm currently writing a biography of Alice Pearce who appears as one of the conventioneers in DEAR HEART. During the research phase of this project, when I combed the Warner Brothers production reports, however, I found no mention of actress Doris Roberts whom you list as being among the cast. I realize that someone long ago added her name to the IMDB credits, but Miss Roberts simply does not appear in DEAR HEART. I think that IMDB contributor assumed the lady at the information counter in the film's closing scene sounded like Miss Roberts. Actually, that actress's name was Parker McCormick, who was listed in the Warner Bros. records as a "local bit" actress at the time she filmed her one scene on 3 October 1963. I enjoyed reading your enthusiastic review, and I'm happy that there are others who appreciate DEAR HEART.

3:31 AM  

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