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The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter (1968)
Music by Dave Grusin
The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter
Click to enlarge images.
Price: $19.95
Limited #: 3000
View CD Page at SAE Store
Line: Silver Age
CD Release: May 2009
Catalog #: Vol. 12, No. 9
# of Discs: 1

One of the finest dramatic scores of the 1960s—and an important early work of Dave Grusin—gets a deluxe CD treatment from Film Score Monthly: The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter (1968), for the acclaimed adaptation of Carson McCullers’s popular Southern novel starring Alan Arkin and Sondra Locke.

The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter stars Arkin as John Singer, a deaf-mute who moves to a small town while trying to become the legal guardian of a fellow deaf-mute (played by Chuck McCann) who has been institutionalized. There he touches the lives of a group of disparate people, including a sensitive teenage girl (Locke) whose family has money problems; a proud black physician (Percy Rodrigues) at odds with his daughter (Cicely Tyson); and a self-pitying, troublemaking drunk (Stacy Keach Jr.). Like many dramas during the turbulent ’60s—especially those set in the South—the film explores themes of alienation and racism as its outsider characters struggle to communicate with each other and find their place in society.

Dave Grusin had mostly television credits when he scored The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter, and the project was a feature-film breakthrough that produced one of his signature scores—Grusin is renowned for his works for contemporary adult dramas that blend orchestral, pop and keyboard elements and this was more or less the first. Faced with a lead character who did not speak in verbal dialogue, and a story rich in emotion, Grusin wrote a beautifully restrained yet melodic score that delicately evokes the film’s unstated emotions. The main theme is a gentle harpsichord melody for Arkin’s deaf-mute, with a bridge expressing the great melancholy within the character, while secondary themes apply to the supporting cast.

While films today tend to have their source music (car radios, stereo systems, etc.) licensed from existing works, in the 1960s it was common for the film’s composer to custom-generate these pieces. This was the case on The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter as Grusin worked with country-western, rock and blues vocalists to generate the appropriate tracks, many of which were featured on the film’s soundtrack LP.

FSM’s expanded CD of The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter is broken into three sections, all of them newly remixed and remastered from the ½" three- and four-track stereo masters: first is the 1968 Warner Bros. LP program, interspersing source music and underscore cues; then a 31:09 program of just the film’s dramatic score, some of which is repeated from the LP tracks but placed here in chronological order; and an additional four tracks of source music. Liner notes are by Jeff Bond and Lukas Kendall, including new comments by the composer. 

Dave Grusin Scores on FSM
About the Composer

Dave Grusin (b. 1934) is a composer, arranger, jazz pianist and recording artist who has made major contributions to jazz and popular music as well as film, where his deft blending of orchestra and pop music (either/or, and often both!) has enriched projects in all genres—but he is especially known for his sensitive touch for acclaimed dramas. He has also composed a number of well-known TV themes, from The Name of the Game to Baretta to St. Elsewhere. FSM has released some of his earliest work on CD, including his TV music for The Girl From U.N.C.L.E.—our pleasure, as he was pretty much great from day one. IMDB

Comments (1):Log in or register to post your own comments
Just noticed, for the first time* (although I've played it numerous times before) that the opening, repeating three note phrase is a near replica of the opening of Grusin's Tri-Star Pictures Logo music.
Don't know how that one passed me by all this time.
And I still can't hear the main theme theme for this one without thinking of Williams' Missouri Breaks theme.

*that I remember :)

Track List
Click on each musician name for more credits

Leader (Conductor):
David Grusin

Leonard Atkins, Herman Clebanoff, Noumi / Naomi Fischer, Sam Freed, Jr., David Frisina, Jacques Gasselin, Irving Geller, James Getzoff, Thelma Hanau (Beach), George Kast, Marvin Limonick, Dan Lube, Erno Neufeld, Jerome Joseph Reisler, Ambrose Russo, Joseph Stepansky, Dorothy M. Wade (Sushel), Harry Zagon

Phillip Goldberg, Allan Harshman, Maurice Keltz, Virginia Majewski, Reuben Marcus, Joseph Reilich, Paul Robyn

Justin DiTullio, Elizabeth Greenschpoon, Armand Kaproff, Raphael "Ray" Kramer, Edgar Lustgarten, Eleanor Slatkin

Peter A. Mercurio, Joseph Mondragon

Louise M. DiTullio (Dissman), Arthur Gleghorn, Thomas W. Scott, C. E. "Bud" Shank

William Criss, Arnold Koblentz

Dominick Fera, Gary G. Gray, Ronald Langinger (aka Ronny Lang)

Norman H. Herzberg, Jack Marsh, Dan Stoltz

Plas Johnson

French Horn:
Arthur E. Briegleb, James A. Decker, Vincent N. DeRosa, William A. Hinshaw, Richard E. Perissi

Maurie Harris

Artie Kane, Pearl Kaufman (Goldman)

Paul Beaver

Laurindo Almeida, Robert F. Bain, Michael Deasy, Orville Rhodes, Howard Roberts, Thomas "Tommy" Tedesco

Fender (electric) Bass:
Larry Knechtel

Catherine Gotthoffer (Johnk)

Tommy Morgan

Earl C. Palmer

Victor Feldman, Joe Porcaro, Emil Radocchia (Richards), Chester Ricord

Orchestra Manager:
Kurt E. Wolff

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