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A Child Is Waiting

1963
1h 42m
Drama
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Cast

Burt Lancaster (Dr. Matthew Clark)Judy Garland (Jean Hansen)Gena Rowlands (Sophie Widdicombe)Steven Hill (Ted Widdicombe)Paul Stewart (Goodman)Gloria McGehee (Mattie)Lawrence Tierney (Douglas Benham)Bruce Ritchey (Reuben Widdicombe)John Marley (Holland)Bill Mumy (Boy Counting Jean's Pearls)John WalkerElizabeth Wilson (Miss Fogarty)Jim Backus (Hot Dog Vendor)John Cassavetes (Retarded Adult Who Walks Toward Camera)Marilyn ClarkBrian Corcoran (Lewis)Fred Draper (Dr. Sack)Mario Gallo (Dr. Ernie Lombardi)

Director

John Cassavetes

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Synopsis

Psychologist Dr. Matthew Clark is the head of the Crawthorne State Training Institute, one of the first boarding schools for developmentally-challenged children. Dr. Clark is sympathetic but demanding of his teachers and students. His approach of tough love is controversial. He takes a chance at hiring former aspiring concert pianist Jean Hansen as the school's music teacher, Miss Hansen, who has no background in nursing, teaching, or dealing with the developmentally challenged. She herself is trying to find her own place in life. She immediately bonds with autistic student Reuben Widdicombe, whom she sees as needing special attention; his parents haven't visited him in the two years he has been there, and divorced because of the pressures their relationship faced in dealing with him. Dr. Clark sees Reuben as the most difficult child to deal with: he understands just enough to realize that he is different and is often rejected. Miss Hansen and Dr. Clark disagree on the best way to get through to him. Although Dr. Clark admits that his methods have not worked with Reuben, he also does not believe that Miss Hansen's approach of undivided attention is the answer. Through getting to know the Widdicombes' reasons for not visiting, and seeing for herself the life of the disabled adult, Miss Hansen comes to an understanding of how she can best help her students, including Reuben.

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