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Only the Lonely (film)

Only the Lonely
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Chris Columbus
Produced by John Hughes
Hunt Lowry
Written by Chris Columbus
Starring John Candy
Maureen O'Hara
Ally Sheedy
Anthony Quinn
James Belushi
Music by Maurice Jarre
Cinematography Julio Macat
Edited by Raja Gosnell
Peter Teschner
Distributed by 20th Century Fox
Release dates
  • May 24, 1991 (1991-05-24)
Running time
104 min.
Country United States
Language English
Box office $25.1 million

Only the Lonely is a 1991 American romantic comedy-drama film written and directed by Chris Columbus and starring John Candy, Maureen O'Hara, Ally Sheedy, and Anthony Quinn. The plot is similar to the film Marty.


  • Plot 1
  • Cast 2
  • Production 3
    • Casting 3.1
    • Filming 3.2
    • Music 3.3
  • Reception 4
  • External links 5
  • References 6


Danny Muldoon (John Candy), a 38-year-old Chicago policeman, still lives with his overbearing Irish mother, Rose Muldoon (Maureen O'Hara). A lonely bachelor, Danny falls in love with Theresa Luna (Ally Sheedy), an introverted, lonely girl who works in her father's funeral home as a cosmetician. On their first date, he takes her to Comiskey Park (shortly before it was torn down) and has a picnic on the field. Their courtship eventually becomes very difficult because Rose begins to feel threatened that Theresa is trying to steal her son away; the fact that Theresa is not Irish (she is Sicilian and Polish) only exacerbates the situation.

Danny's brother Patrick (Kevin Dunn) tries to convince Danny to remain unmarried so that Danny and Rose can move down to Florida, where Danny can take care of her; Salvatore "Sal" Buonarte (James Belushi), one of Danny's married friends and fellow police officers, tries to tell Danny that he can do better and not to settle down just yet, as he did. Because of this, Danny begins to feel guilty about his relationship with Theresa, especially towards his mother. This leads to his interrupting dates with Theresa to check on his mother.

When Theresa is finally introduced to Rose at a fancy dinner, Rose immediately begins to put her down. Theresa stands up to Rose, and complains to Danny as to why he didn't stand up for her. After Theresa leaves, Danny scolds his mother for being so cruel to Theresa, saying that her way of "telling it like it is" is really her attempts to hurt people. He then reminds her of how she had lost a $450,000 account for his late father's company after calling his bosses racial slurs. Danny then tells Rose that he will propose to Theresa, whether she approves or not.

That night, Danny apologizes to Theresa and proposes to her from the bucket of a Chicago fire truck. She says yes and the two are set to be married. However, even though Rose finally does approve of Theresa, on the night before the wedding, Danny calls to check on his mother in front of Theresa. Angered at the fact that they might never be alone, Theresa walks off. At the wedding, both Danny and Theresa fail to show up, thus, the two don't marry. A few weeks later, Danny's friends question what happened to make them not get married, but Danny avoids an answer. Then, when a friend of the family, Doyle (Milo O'Shea) passes away, alone with no wife or children, Danny realizes that he doesn't want to end up that way, and realizes that he can't let Theresa go.

Finally, the day Danny and Rose are scheduled to move to Florida, Danny tells Rose that he can't let Theresa go and by leaving her behind, he'd be leaving behind the best thing that ever happened to him. Reluctant at first, Rose finally agrees to Danny's plan and goes to Florida without him, instructing her son to get married, have a family and be happy. Danny then goes to Luna's Funeral Home to look for Theresa. However, her father tells him that she left for New York City by train. Danny contacts the railroad station manager, who agrees to stop the train at a suburban station outside the city. There, Danny apologizes to Theresa and proclaims his love for her. He tells her that he will move to New York with her and join the New York City Police Department. Having no more guilt about his mother, the two re-board the train for New York to live the rest of their lives together.

Throughout the film, the Muldoons' Greek neighbor, Nick Acropolis (Anthony Quinn), who encourages Danny to pursue Theresa, attempts to woo Rose. Rose is salty towards him in the beginning, but as she gradually softens her stance regarding Danny's relationship with Theresa, she ultimately warms up to Nick.




Chris Columbus wrote the part of Rose specifically for Maureen O'Hara, but did not know that she had retired from acting and was living in the Virgin Islands. Columbus contacted O'Hara's brother Charles B. Fitzsimons, a producer and actor in the film industry, to ask him to send O'Hara a copy of the script, which he did, telling her, "This you do!". O'Hara read the script and loved it. She was reported to have replied to Fitzsimons, "This I do!". However, she would not commit until she met co-star John Candy. The two formed an instant rapport and she quickly signed to do the film.

Co-star Jim Belushi recounted this story: On the set of Only the Lonely, the producers stuck Maureen O’Hara in a tiny trailer. When John Candy complained on her behalf, he was told the budget was being spent on the picture, not on accommodations for old movie stars. Candy gave O’Hara his luxurious trailer and slept on a cot in cramped quarters for three days until the producers acquiesced.

John Hughes co-produced the film. This movie marked Macaulay Culkin's third film with Hughes and Candy (after Home Alone and Uncle Buck). Other than New Port South, it was the only film Hughes produced that he did not write.


Most of the film was shot on location in Chicago. Danny and Rose Muldoon's house is located at the intersection of Clark Street and Roscoe Street, as is the front facade of O'Neils' Pub. The inside of the pub was shot at Emmett's Pub, a Chicago landmark that was also used in Uncle Buck, another film with John Candy. At the request of producer John Hughes (a Chicagoan and big fan of the Chicago White Sox) and sports fan John Candy, the baseball stadium where Danny and Theresa's first date took place was arranged to be set at old Comiskey Park (home of the Chicago White Sox until 1991). Hughes hastily arranged the filming, as the stadium was slated to be torn down imminently. There is also a shot showing old Comiskey Park and the new U.S. Cellular Field, the current home of the White Sox, under construction next door. Comiskey Park was located at the corner of 35th St. and Shields Ave., on the South Side of Chicago. The scene where Danny and Theresa kiss along Lake Michigan is located at Lincoln Park, Chicago, and the dinner scene was shot at One Ambassador East, also known as the Ambassador East Hotel, located at 1301 North State Parkway in Chicago's Gold Coast.

The final scene with Danny and Theresa was shot at the Amtrak station in Niles, Michigan, which was renamed to Willoughby and decorated with Christmas lights for the filming.[1]


Roy Orbison's hit song "Only the Lonely", on which the movie's title is based, is played in its entirety in the movie's opening scene. "Someone Like You" by Van Morrison is played during one of Danny and Theresa's dates. "Dreams to Remember" by Etta James is played, also in its entirety. Also, "Pachelbel's Canon" is played briefly during the wedding scene. The film's original music was composed by Maurice Jarre.

The soundtrack album was released by Varese Sarabande, featuring 28 minutes of Jarre's score and the songs "Only the Lonely" and "Someone Like You."


Only the Lonely received mixed to positive reviews from critics and currently holds a 62% rating on Rotten Tomatoes based on 21 reviews.

External links


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