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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
on May 2, 2004
As a professor of special education who prepares future teachers to work with children with disabilities, this film caught my attention for a number of reasons. Aside from the wonderful cast and director, the film includes children with various disabilities performing as extras with speaking and acting roles. This is remarkable for that time period. The film also provides a glimpse at the attitudes and beliefs that were quite prevalent in the 1960s and that are still sometimes found among mainstream society today. The idea that children with disabilities had to be protected from society and that parents experienced unconsolable grief for a lifetime contrasts with many of the attitudes and practices that we see today. In fact it was the parents of children with disabilities from the 1950s and 1960s who advocated for the changes we see today where children are fully included in mainstream schools and community life. It is a wonderful film for illustrating both the evolution and the persistence of segregating individuals with disabilities . Most young adults today who are preparing to be teachers cannot understand why many parents gave up their children with disabilities. This film provides a glimpse into the prevailing opinions of professionals at that time. While there was an emerging belief that these children were educable, this was tempered with the need to shelter and protect them from the world. It is also a useful demonstration of what teaching methods and priorities existed in the past when children with disabilities would spend a lifetime away from mainstream society.
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14 of 16 people found the following review helpful
on August 7, 2006
One of the greatest moments in cinema history is Judy Garland

leaning into the car to welcome the young boy's arrival.

I cry everytime I see that scene.

She appeared close to tears herself,my god what a performance.

Pure cinema magic.

Yes,it is dated the way they treated folks,but believe it or not,it was accurate for the time !
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on September 10, 1999
Set in a boarding school for the mentally handicapped, A Child Is Waiting pits newly hired teacher Garland against school founder Lancaster in a battle over the best way in which to handle a particular child-- in this case, an extremely troubled boy.
Filmed with a children's cast composed primarily of mentally handicapped children, the drama is so intense that it occasionally becomes difficult to endure. One of the first films to take a serious look at issues confronting parents and teachers dealing with mentally handicapped children, the story is simply and cleanly told without sentimentality or preachiness, and as such emerges all the more powerful. The cast is exceptional, with Garland once more demonstrating that her range extended far beyond the demands of her Hollywood musicals of the 1930s and 40s. An absorbing, demanding drama; highly recommended.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on November 14, 2005
"A Child is Waiting" shows how much has not really changed in society's attitude toward the mentally challenged. Although political correctness would have us believe otherwise, people with disabilities are either derided or romanticized. "I am Sam" had alot more integrity than a travesty like "Rain Man", but Hollywood has a long way to go with treating the subject with tenderness and conviction, as Cassavettes does in his film.

Garland, Lancaster, Rowlands and others are actors beyond compare to the stars today and just take your breath away, especially Garland. The scenes between her and Lancaster are wonderful. Get out your kleenex and your thinking cap and watch this little seen but gem of a film. Can't wait for a DVD!
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
If, at some point in this movie, you do not cry, you have got to be made of stone. At its ending, I could not get up from my chair, and was so overwhelmed that I sat there and cried. Now I am better. But I do believe that some of this sorrow will never go away.
There is a GREAT cast of actors. I believe this is the best performance of Burt Lancaster. He is mesmerizing throughout the movie. Judy Garland seems full of sorrow herself. Her emotional struggle to find meaning in her life, and the suffering she endures because she cares so very much for the retarded children, are very honestly portrayed. I like her in the final scene of the film when her deep caring combines with her natural vivacity and warmth. Steven Hill is terrific as the father of the child most focused upon in the story. There is a very fine scene between Hill and Paul Stewart, who plays a close working associate of Lancaster, the director of the institution. And this child himself gives an incredible performance. I believe he should have received a special academy award.
"The Children," as they are listed in the titles, have many of the retarded among them. Credit must be given to the director's great ingenuity and a kind of genius that he knew how to and succeeded in drawing out excellent performances. In short, he really knew how to work with these kids.
The story: Highly educated parents leave their boy in this institution after finally accepting that he is, as his father puts it, "defective." They never visit him. Garland, who comes to work at the institution, just having given up on a career as a pianist, and the boy form a close bond, and she, against the director's wishes, tries to get the mother involved in the boy's life. The result is not good, but only more turmoil is caused. In the end, we find that what is a small victory for a non-retarded person can be a great victory for the mentally impaired. Garland's character also finds her own strength through what she is able to contribute.
Hats off to Cassavetes for taking on so thoroughly, skillfully and brutally honestly a subject which no other film has so deeply explored.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on June 19, 2006
This film, which was made in 1962, was Judy Garland's 2nd-to-last film, and is one of the best dramatic performances of her career; yet it always seems to be overlooked in overviews of her career. The highlight of the movie, to me, is when Ms. Garland sings "Snowflakes". Burt Lancaster and Gena Rowlands also offer fine dramatic supporting roles as well. Although it is unfortunate that this DVD version is region 2 and must be played on an all-region DVD player (if you live in the USA),I am happy that it is available at all, and I recommend that everyone buy it. (There are optional subtitles, and you can choose English or Spanish audio, too.)
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on July 14, 2000
There has never been a film that moved me as much as this one. There has never been a film that made me cry so much. There has never been a film that opened my eyes so much. " A Child Is Waiting" is one of the most significant pictures of society ever made, without a doubt. The basis for the difficult story is dealing with retarded children, nurturing them, trying to help them when no one else will help them... or love them. Burt Lancaster, in a crisply delivered performance, is a stern but kind headmaster at an institution for retarded children. At the beginning of the film, a woman (Judy Garland, in a beautifully dramatic performance) comes to the school to apply for the position of music teacher at the school. She immediately attracts a disturbed child (Bruce Ritchey), and is disturbed that nobody, even his own parents, ever visit him. She tries to help the child, only to hurt him even more when Lancaster refuses to let him see his parents. Now the emotionally fragile woman must decide what can give her life meaning... what she can do for the children, or what the children can do for her. Ultimately, the ending is poignant and heartwarming. All will be well. I can only hope that someday it will all be well, for these wonderful children... who are still waiting.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on January 20, 2007
I saw this when it first came out in 1962, and not since. It had excellent reviews, but was generally ignored around awards time. Lancaster and, especially, Judy Garland are excellent The depiction of developmentally disabled kids is handled with such sensitivity and care, you find yourself cheering, while at the same time feeling Garland's frustration. I really hope someone has the sense to release a DVD for American release. This film should be seen by everyone. AFTERTHOUGHT: Kids are kids; unfortunately, "adults" don't realize that those disabled kids just want to be loved. That's what Garland did, and it's a subject many "adults" don't want to deal with. So sorry for the kids...
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on March 5, 2001
A CHILD IS WAITING is a powerful indictment of the human heart and the its will to see beyond barriers, both physical and emotional. Set in the restrictive period of the early sixties, as rights for the developmenetally disabled were starting their revolution, the film focuses on the struggles for acceptance on three levels:the child, the teacher and the parent. Judy Garland gives a brilliant, largely overlooked performance, as a piano teacher struggling with her own demons as she takes on the challenge of teaching in a school for the disabled. In the process, she discovers the root of her own challenges. Gena Rowlands gives an outstanding performance as the mother of a troubled child, unable to deal with her feeling of parental guilt. Then there is the child, played by Billy Mummy, who struggles to be understood in an environment which doesn't seem to have time to listen. Thought dated in its historical outlook, this film has universal truths that are as relevent today as they were in the early sixties. this is such an important film for all future teachers to witness. Its hopefully teaches every viewer that the limits of an individual sometimes lie only in the minds of those around them. An extremely pognant film that has lost none of its power in the insuing decades. A must see!
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on October 24, 2001
This is a thought-provoking film on the difficulties when dealing with children with disabilities. THe film is dated in its dialogue, and it is quite sheltered, by today's comparisons. The supporting performers (the children) are heart-breaking, and Lancaster and (especially) Garland put in beautiful work themselves.
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