Although Lonelyhearts is overall only an average movie, it does featured some decidedly above average acting. In fact, Lonelyhearts boasts one of the very finest performances of Montgomery Clift, albeit one that is not among his best known or most viewed. Clift, who had only recently been involved in an accident that left him physically scarred and emotionally unsure, is mesmerizing. Few other actors could plumb the depths of insecure emotionality as Clift did; even when at his strongest and most powerful, there's always the sense that if he pushed further, he would suddenly crumble. As a columnist who absorbs the emotional messes of those to whom he must give advice, Clift is in his element -- electrifying, repellent, scornful, terrified, vulnerable, and appealing by turns. He is well matched by Maureen Stapleton in her film debut, portraying a chillingly unbalanced letter writer. Robert Ryan and Myrna Loy also contribute some very fine moments. Unfortunately, the cast has to deal with a screenplay that never gels in the way it intends. Some of the dialogue is far too over-the-top, and the strands of the stories don't come together in the desired manner. Also a problem is Vincent J. Donahue's direction, which is a bit claustrophobic and which, in terms of making the film cinematic, too hesitant.