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A Child Is Waiting (1963, Judy Garland, Burt Lancaster)

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In A Child Is Waiting Burt Lancaster is Dr Matthew Clarke, psychologist and head of an institution for mentally handicapped children. When Jean Hansen (Judy Garland), an unmarried and unsuccessful musician looking for a new purpose in life, arrives at the school, Clarke is suspicious of her motives but grudgingly takes her on as a member of staff.

Led primarily by her feelings and emotions, Hansen appears unsuited to the job, becoming emotionally attached to one particular child, Reuben (Bruce Ritchey). The sensitive newcomer wants Reuben’s parents to visit, believing this will help the child out of his self-contained emotional bubble, but the pragmatic and objective Clarke forbids it.

Hansen goes ahead, however – her desire to help Reuben apparently led more by the wish to satisfy her own emotional needs than any altruistic alternative. She summons Reuben’s mother who believes she herself was at fault for her son’s reserved and anti-social state, but who now won’t speak to him, forcing the young boy to run away. But Clarke manages to bring the boy back to the school and his progress finally begins; his performance in a Thanksgiving drama being watched by his now proud father.

production details
USA / 102 minutes / 1963

Director: John Cassavetes
Writer: Abby Mann

cast
Judy Garland as Jean Hansen
Burt Lancaster as Dr. Matthew Clark
Gena Rowlands as Sophie Widdicombe Benham
Steven Hill as Ted Widdicombe
Lawrence Tierney as Douglas Benham
Bruce Ritchey as Reuben Widdicombe
John Marley as Holland
Barbara Pepper as Miss Brown
Juanita Moore as Mrs. Phillips
Mario Gallo as Dr. Ernie Lombardi
Bill Mumy as Child

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