During the 1930s, Lewis Tate aspires to be the next great American Western writer. But when he travels to California, he's recruited by Bert Kessler), a Hollywood unit manager, to star in a series of low-rent Westerns.
Lewis Tater writes Wild West dime novels and dreams of actually becoming a cowboy. When he goes west to find his dream, he finds himself in possession of the loot box of two crooks who tried to rob him. During his escape, Lewis stumbles on to the set of a Wild West movie, and through mishap and chance, becomes a star of Hollywood Westerns.Written by
Bree Humphries <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Hearts of the West was one of the last features to be filmed on lot 2 MGM soon after this movie that property was sold and homes were built where all those sets used to be. See more »
When Richard B. Shull's character rips the list of studio phone numbers from the café wall, the list clearly has a nail hole and a tear at the top. When he holds the list against a phone booth window, the hole and the tear have both vanished. See more »
It's just like back at home. Every time we have soup for supper, I get a peppercorn in the first swallow!
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The film opens with the 1930's MGM logo. See more »
What a likable farm galoot Jeff Bridges makes. His Lewis Tater wants to be a Western writer and by golly neither pursuing crooks, nor double-crossing buddies, nor phony correspondence schools are going to stop him. Like his literary alter-ego The Kid, he's just too eager to get discouraged. Across burning deserts and thundering hoofs, he soldiers on toward fame and fortune and Hollywood and Vine.
And what a hoot his purple prose is. Like an amiable Walter Mitty, minor events get spun into major events for "The Kid" in such deathless passages as, "Twirling, The Kid fired with all he had into the phantom riders", or " A Colt in either hand, he scattered lead at the retreating dust."
What a great sleeper movie this is, thanks to the comical Bridges and some unerring light touches. Take for example the cheap Western they're filming. Catch how a groaning Lewis steps on the big romantic clinch, or how his curtain-chewing death throes put the director (Arkin) into a murderous tizzy. But I especially like that awkward little turn on the sidewalk where he brushes against the potted palm and wins the affection of Miss Trout (Danner).
The movie's also a telling look at the making of matinée Westerns, a staple of kids' viewing in the 1930's and 40's. As a former Front Row kid, I viewed those parts with mixed emotions. I guess I still want those guys to be real cowboys and not the shrewd businessmen-actors they likely were.
Anyhow, in my little book, this is a little gem from beginning to end, with scarcely a misstep along the way. It never ceases to amaze me that the Hollywood-bred Bridges (his dad was veteran actor Lloyd Bridges) can play such a convincing hayseed, but he can. Speaking of hayseeds, watch for a very unMayberry Andy Griffith, again showing what a fine, versatile actor he is. I'm just sorry this style of clever low-key comedy has given way to today's frantic bathroom kind. Maybe Hollywood needs to hire more Lewis Tater's, after all.
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