Disowned by Cassavetes after producer Stanley Kramer edited it against his wishes and made it more sentimental than intended, this is none the less a very affecting study of the plight of mentally retarded children. Shot in semi-documentary style and using (with the exception of Ritchey, the film's central 'case history') actual retarded children, the movie concerns a new teacher (Garland) whose excessive concern with Ritchey's predicament brings her into conflict with her boss (Lancaster). As ever, Cassavetes elicits magnificent performances from his cast, making especially fine use of Garland's tremulous emotionalism, although the occasional drifts into didacticism (the script was by Abby Mann, who wrote Judgment at Nuremberg and Ship of Fools) entail the sort of special pleading Cassavetes was keen to avoid. Flawed but fascinating.
A Child Is Waiting
Cast and crew