Down 485 this week

Desert Hearts (1985)

R  |   |  Drama, Romance  |  7 March 1986 (USA)
Your rating:
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 -/10 X  
Ratings: 7.0/10 from 2,992 users  
Reviews: 43 user | 11 critic

It is 1950s Nevada, and Professor Vivian Bell arrives to get a divorce. She's unsatisfied with her marriage, and feels out of place at the ranch she stays on, she finds herself increasingly... See full summary »



Watch Trailer
0Check in

Watch Now

From $2.99 on Amazon Video


Fall TV: 15 Returning TV Shows Worth Binge Watching

Which returning shows do we recommend binging on? We've picked out 15 great options for you. Read this and more lists in our Fall TV section.

Read our list

User Lists

Related lists from IMDb users

a list of 25 titles
created 12 Jun 2011
a list of 39 titles
created 24 Feb 2013
a list of 41 titles
created 09 Jan 2014
a list of 35 titles
created 8 months ago
a list of 45 titles
created 5 months ago

Related Items

Search for "Desert Hearts" on

Connect with IMDb

Share this Rating

Title: Desert Hearts (1985)

Desert Hearts (1985) on IMDb 7/10

Want to share IMDb's rating on your own site? Use the HTML below.

Take The Quiz!

Test your knowledge of Desert Hearts.

User Polls

2 wins & 2 nominations. See more awards »



Learn more

People who liked this also liked... 

Comedy | Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.3/10 X  

Two attractive young lesbians, Maggie and Kim, meet in Vancouver, develop a passionate romance, and move in together. Meanwhile, Maggie's well-meaning but naive mother Lila gets divorced ... See full summary »

Director: Anne Wheeler
Stars: Wendy Crewson, Karyn Dwyer, Christina Cox
Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.8/10 X  

An uptight and conservative woman, working on tenure as a literacy professor at a large urban university, finds herself strangely attracted to a free-spirited, liberal woman who works at a local carnival that comes to town.

Director: Patricia Rozema
Stars: Pascale Bussières, Rachael Crawford, Henry Czerny
Comedy | Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.5/10 X  

An adventurous love story between two young women of different social and economic backgrounds who find themselves going through all the typical struggles of a new romance.

Director: Maria Maggenti
Stars: Laurel Holloman, Nicole Ari Parker, Maggie Moore
If These Walls Could Talk 2 (TV Movie 2000)
Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  

Trio of stories about lesbian couples in three different decades.

Directors: Jane Anderson, Martha Coolidge, and 1 more credit »
Stars: Vanessa Redgrave, Marian Seldes, Paul Giamatti
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.8/10 X  

A drama centered on two women who engage in a dangerous relationship during South Africa's apartheid era.

Director: Shamim Sarif
Stars: Lisa Ray, Sheetal Sheth, Parvin Dabas
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.4/10 X  

A feisty young woman returns to Glasgow to run her deceased father's curry house.

Director: Pratibha Parmar
Stars: Laura Fraser, Shelley Conn, Art Malik
Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.7/10 X  

A 2008 romance film adapted from a same name novel about a London-based Jordanian of Palestinian descent, Tala, who is preparing for an elaborate wedding. A turn of events causes her to ... See full summary »

Director: Shamim Sarif
Stars: Lisa Ray, Sheetal Sheth, Antonia Frering
Comedy | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.2/10 X  

Residents of the fictional town of Azalea Springs, Texas go into a panic after a gay local says the town's water supply is what made him gay.

Director: Kelli Herd
Stars: Keri Jo Chapman, Teresa Garrett, Derrick Sanders
Tipping the Velvet (TV Mini-Series 2002)
Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8/10 X  

Set in the 1890's, tells the lesbian love affair between male impersonator music hall star Kitty Butler and Nan Astley.

Stars: Rachael Stirling, Keeley Hawes, Anna Chancellor
High Art (1998)
Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.7/10 X  

A young female intern at a small magazine company becomes involved with a drug-addicted lesbian photographer, both of whom seek to exploit each other for their respective careers, while slowly falling in love with each other.

Director: Lisa Cholodenko
Stars: Radha Mitchell, Ally Sheedy, Patricia Clarkson
Elena Undone (2010)
Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.4/10 X  

Fate brings two diversely different women together, and sets them on a collision course that will shatter their preconceived notions about love, life and the power of one's soul.

Director: Nicole Conn
Stars: Necar Zadegan, Traci Dinwiddie, Gary Weeks
Saving Face (2004)
Comedy | Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  

A Chinese-American lesbian and her traditionalist mother are reluctant to go public with secret loves that clash against cultural expectations.

Director: Alice Wu
Stars: Joan Chen, Michelle Krusiec, Lynn Chen


Cast overview, first billed only:
Andra Akers ...
Gwen Welles ...
Katie La Bourdette ...
Tyler Tyhurst ...
Antony Ponzini ...
Brenda Beck ...
Sam Minsky ...
Best Man
Patricia Frazier ...
Change Girl


It is 1950s Nevada, and Professor Vivian Bell arrives to get a divorce. She's unsatisfied with her marriage, and feels out of place at the ranch she stays on, she finds herself increasingly drawn to Cay Rivers, an open and self-assured lesbian, and the ranchowner's daughter. The emotions released by their developing intimacy, and Vivian's insecurities about her feelings towards Cay, are played out against a backdrop of rocky landscapes and country and western songs. Written by Neil Lewis <>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

1950s | nevada | divorce | lesbian | casino | See All (19) »


Drama | Romance


R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:



Official Sites:



Release Date:

7 March 1986 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Media hora más contigo  »

Filming Locations:

Box Office


$1,250,000 (estimated)


$2,492,088 (USA)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Patricia Charbonneau filmed the entire movie while pregnant. See more »


In the hotel room when Vivian recounts to Cay the confrontation earlier between herself and Francis, she says she (Vivian) was standing in the rain when in reality the confrontation took place when the weather was sunny and dry. See more »


Cay: Vivian, we have to get out of here, you know. Stand up. Take a walk. Have a Coke. Window shop?
See more »


Written by Richard Rodgers and Lorenz Hart
Performed by Elvis Presley
Courtesy of RCA Records
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.

User Reviews

Kind of Sweet
7 November 2002 | by (Deming, New Mexico, USA) – See all my reviews

"Desert Hearts" has quite a bit going for it. It captures 1950s Reno and environs, the biggest little city in the world, pretty well: great old cars, red earth, dried twisted windspent driftwood, fragrant summer sagebrush, the noisy 7/24 casinos with 99 cent meals, suntanned faces, rickety ranch motels on the outskirts of town, snow-veined Sierras, and the pop music that is no worse than what we listen to. The story pulls one in.

Aura Lindley is the matriarch of the ranch and has bonded with one of her tenants. A new one arrives, an Eastern sophisticate, who refers to herself as a "distinguished author," and has a lot of books schlepped into her room. Discord! Helen Shaver, the professor, is rather neat and in addition to her books carries around a lot of savoir-faire. She doesn't look bad either. The movie also has going for it the presence of Patricia Charbonneau, who must have one of the most interesting crania on the planet, and the soft parts to match. She is possessed of a sinewy yet feminine figure and carries herself with presence. Her hair and her irises are the color of glowing anthracite. ("Charbonneau", indeed.) And those dazzling big choppers, appalling and appealing. She outs herself on a walk with Shaver who responds momentarily, impulsively. Jealous, Lindley throws Shaver out, suspecting something more intimate has happened than actually has.

The intimacy follows in a later scene when Charbonneau tracks Shaver to her downtown hotel room and initiates a long, erotic love scene which isn't at all pornographic or exploitative. The two women love one another, but one is after all an uptight distinguished author and the other, though equally intelligent, goes with the flow, as they say, and has been "kicked out of college for unnatural acts."

The film ends ambiguously. Can they get together? Can they compromise their life styles? Can a distinguished author carry on an affair with another woman in the 1950s? Not including Gertrude Stein? Can our desert wildflower find a home as a potted plant surrounded by geraniums on a windowsill on MacDougall Street in the Village? Will an author find happiness with a woman after her marriage to a man has ended in boredom and disaster? Will -- I forgot what the original rhetorical question was.

This is an easy movie to get through. Nothing in it leaps out at you. It doesn't pound you over the head with its modern sensibilities. We're not invited to condemn those morons back in the 50s for their attitudes towards gays, nor are we urged to feel guilty because we are accused of some lingering distaste ourselves. The movie sort of shrugs at these issues and says, well, that's the way it was. Not exactly a time that embraced gays but, at least on the outskirts of Reno, not exactly a time of torture either. One wishes Shaver and Charbonneau well as they ride off on the train into the sunset.

13 of 15 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

Message Boards

Recent Posts
IN MY TOP 10----SO GOOD!!!! netflowers
Similar plot to one of my favourite novels Wilde_child
Yeah stuff123
Where's Patricia? manhattanyc4
Frances maclasch
When did desert hearts come out? buttonxupxbaby
Discuss Desert Hearts (1985) on the IMDb message boards »

Contribute to This Page

Create a character page for: