A Child is Waiting
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The third directing effort by the great John Cassavetes (Husbands) is an engrossing, sobering expose of society's cruel prejudice toward mentally challenged children. Jean Hansen (Judy Garland, Judgment at Nuremberg) is an experienced city transplant who takes a job at a Down's syndrome institution and befriends Reuben, one of the boys afflicted with the disease. Reuben latches on to Jean, to the dismay of Dr. Matthew Clark (Burt Lancaster, Elmer Gantry), the head of the institution. He feels that Jean's affection for Reuben will disturb the other children, prompting him to separate the pair. Cassavetes stunningly uses actual disabled children to convey the reality of these disabilities, gives the film a level of humanity and unflinching depth that resonates long after the final credits have rolled. The great Gena Rowlands (Gloria) and Steven Hill (Storm Fear) lead the supporting cast that includes Paul Stewart (Kiss Me Deadly), Lawrence Tierney (Reservoir Dogs), Elizabeth Wilson (The Graduate) and John Marley (Faces).