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Only the Lonely

Promotional poster for the film
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
Editing by Raja Gosnell
Peter Teschner
Distributed by 20th Century Fox
Release date(s) May 24, 1991
Running time 104 min.
Country United States
Language English

Only the Lonely is a 1991 romantic comedy-drama film written and directed by Chris Columbus. It starred John Candy, Ally Sheedy, Maureen O’Hara and Anthony Quinn.


Plot Summary

Danny Muldoon (John Candy) is a 38-year-old policeman who lives with his overbearing Irish mother, Rose Muldoon (Maureen O'Hara) in the Wrigleyville neighborhood of Chicago, Illinois. A lonely bachelor, Danny falls in love with Theresa Luna (Ally Sheedy), a shy, lonely girl who works in her father's funeral home. 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 Danny can take care of Rose; Salvatore "Sal" Buonarte (Jim Belushi), one of Danny's married friends and fellow policeman, tries to tell Danny that he can do better and not to settle down just yet, as he did. Also, because Danny is so under Rose's control, he often becomes worried and guilty about her, interrupting dates with Theresa to call and check on his mother. Upon Danny's introduction of Theresa to his mother, Rose uses sarcasm and insults to drive Theresa away. Because he has been attached to his mother for so long, Danny is afraid to put Theresa first in his life. He finally tells Rose how he feels and rebukes her for her insults to Theresa. He then proposes to Theresa, saying he will never let her down again. However, after Danny calls Rose to check on her on the night before his wedding, Theresa realizes Rose is still in the back of Danny's mind, making him feel guilty. When neither shows up at the church on their wedding day, the two stop seeing each other and continue their lives without one another. However, when Danny and Rose's friend Doyle (Milo O'Shea)dies alone and unmarried, with only Danny, Rose, and his friend Spats at the wake, Danny realizes that could be him if he lets the best thing that ever happened to him, Theresa, go. Finally, upon packing to move to St. Petersburg, Florida, Danny tells Rose he must follow his heart and marry Theresa. Rose finally gives in and goes to Florida without her son. Danny gets back together with Theresa and the two move to New York City and live happily ever after.

Throughout the film, the Muldoon's Greek neighbor, Nick Acropolis (Anthony Quinn), 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 back 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 recounts a 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 money men acquiesced.

John Hughes co-produced the film. This movie marked Macaulay Culkin's third movie with Hughes and Candy (after Home Alone and Uncle Buck).


Rose: Oh, that's a lovely dress you wearing.
Danny: Isn't it?
Theresa: Oh, thank you!
Rose: Even though it is a little big on top.
Danny: Ma!
Rose: Well, it is, you said so yourself.
Danny: Ma!
Theresa: No, no that's a problem I have, I'm not really that endowed on top.
Danny: No, no, no, no, no.
Rose: You're built like a thirteen year old boy.

Rose: I had a Polack friend once. She was incredibly stupid...
Danny: Don't do this, Ma.
Rose: ...Julie Kapowski. She was the stupidest woman that I ever knew. She believed that black cows... [laughs] cows squirted chocolate milk!

Danny: [Danny has just scored a date with Theresa and runs into some funeral attendees] Yeah! Oh... sorry... but I just got lucky in there with a girl.
[funeral attendees look shocked]
Danny: Not in that way... she does everybody in there... not in that way. But she probably did that guy there... I gotta go.

Nick Acropolis: Rose! Rose, I am trying again. Will you please accept these flowers?
Rose: I don't want them. And I don't date Greeks.
Nick Acropolis: You know, you and I could make each other so happy. Greek men are great lovers.
Rose: And Greek men never bathe.
Nick Acropolis: I bathe twice a day! Three times! When I do my sit-ups. Feel that stomach. Hard like an eighteen-year-old's. Come on, feel it!
Rose: I'm not feeling anything of yours.

Doyle: If I'd gotten married, I wouldn't be where I am now.
Spats: In a tavern?
Doyle: Free! Living like a king!
Spats: You live at the Y.

Danny: I'll pick you up at seven. Where do you live?
Theresa: Here.
Danny: With the stiffs?
Theresa: Um, my father and I have an apartment upstairs.
Danny: Oh! Yeah, sure! That's uh... convenient.

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