Heart Beat (1980) Poster


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For Fans of Nolte/Sharkey/Beats
writenact1 May 2011
This was a find with On-Demand. The price was right (free)and I could watch it without leaving the house, so nothing was lost except time. That being said, this is probably a film that fans of Nick Nolte, Ray Sharkey and Beat Generation culture would enjoy. Nolte is in the waning days of his "pretty boy" phase, but he gives a gritty performance. Ray Sharkey's maniacal turn as Ira makes you wonder "what-if" all the more. The Beat Generation backdrop seems a little too clean at times, but it gets a fair shot. However, Sissy Spacek is handed a character that she can't do anything with. This comes from the overly broad brush strokes that the filmmaker uses, which leaves little room for Spacek to work.

All in all, not a bad film; just not one for the ages.
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Near-brilliant production design and art direction; the rest is middling...
moonspinner5520 June 2006
Fictionalized account of the friendship between writers Nick Cassady and Jack Kerouac, members of the so-called Beat Generation of the late 1950s. Writer-director John Byrum takes a sketchy, connect-the-dots approach to these famous people, and his opaque screenplay, adapted from Carolyn Cassady's memoirs, leaves the actors (Nick Nolte as Cassady, John Heard as Kerouac, Sissy Spacek as Carolyn) often looking as if they haven't been clued-in. There are moments when the cast and the well-realized surroundings warrant far more interest than the story or the dialogue, and that's a weak obstacle in a film about writers. The film is also extremely somber, with only bits and pieces of quirky humor (thanks to a supporting turn by Ray Sharkey) to elevate the depressive air of self-conceit. Visually impressive production, solid work from the men, but Spacek's role is underwritten. ** from ****
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Cassady would have liked Nolte's interpretation of himself!
ursulahemard9 November 2012
Not exactly a biopic but rather a potpourri loosely based on Carloyn Cassady's memoires and Jack Kerouac's autobiographical novel 'OnThe Road'. A tad too neat and tidy for me, and I did miss many of the very specific jazzy references and descriptions in the book as soundtrack. And that's not pardonable! On the other hand, they added some soundtrack which was not fitting at all. Shame. Usually a great actress, Sissy Spacek was less impressive as a figure of the so called 'Beat Generation'. She seemed to me too bourgeois and not quite in character. I haven't read Caroly's memories though and in Jack's book she's one of the many important but rather peripheral characters.

However! having had cast Nick Nolte as Neal Cassady and John Heard as Jack Kerouac was a bullseye in my opinion. I imagined the two lads exactly this way whilst reading the book. Great interpretations and chemistry. Gorgeous cinematography by Laszlo Kovacs, but maybe I'm being too patriotic :-) Despite all my criticism, I definitely recommend it to those who read the book, you'll pick up the references with a smile.
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Captures a time and mood like few others
dougpeg26 February 2000
This movie ranks third on the all-time best list by capturing at the same time the dynamics of personal relationships and the paradigm shift in American culture from the 1950s to 1960s. It helps in this case, not to have read the book before viewing the movie as the movie stands on its own merits. Those who are looking for the beatnik story will be disappointed as this is a movie about relationships and how people suffer and long for commitment in those relationships. One of the several forlorn characters is Ann Dusenberry (stevie) who steals the show in her relatively brief screen time, giving the best film noirsh, look back from a window and uttering the greatest jilted lover line of all-time ("I don't give a rusty f* for that or anything else"). Nolte gives his best performance ever, he's made for the neal cassady (see rich man, poor man)role. John Heard also gives his best performance in this one while Spacek weighs in with one of her best ever. The look, feel and musical score all blend to capture uniquely a time and place as well as relationship dynamics not often attempted let alone achieved.
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A take on a subject strangely lacking in coverage
occupant-16 January 2002
Considering all the comment about the "beat generation" US literary movement of the 1950's and 60's, it seems there's not much film examination of it. The only book of Kerouac's to be filmed so far was the confusing "The Subterraneans" in 1960, not an obvious candidate. This 1980 film is the only biopic of which I'm aware that follows the Kerouac/Neal & Carolyn Cassady saga. It's spotty and doesn't communicate a great deal of what "beat" literature claimed to have accomplished (if indeed anything WAS accomplished), but Nolte was born to play the role of Neal C., which performance alone seals the value of this film. The Cassadys were muses that helped generate Kerouac's impetus to write, and the rest is history.
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Heart Beat a masterpiece? Never...
jtdeclercq25 August 2008
I am amazed that so many people on this forum rate this movie as the pan-ultimate film regarding the 'Beat generation'. One comment even goes as far to state that "to a Kerouac/Cassady fan and fan of that era ( late 40s early 50s ) this is pure gold".

Why, I wonder. Because as far as a depiction of reality goes (and reading the raving messages on this forum to many the essence of this film is a fair picture of what actually took place), this film is a travesty if ever there was one. In my files I have (the translation of) an article written by Kenneth Turan in 1979 which contains an interview with the then 55 year old Carolyn Cassady. She says that when she first read the script (by John Byrum), she was taken aback by the untruthfulness's of it. Facts were distorted, characters twisted, and reading some of the dialogues, she said to herself: come off it, this is a sham! However, she was paid 70.000 dollars plus 2,5 percent of the nett turnover, which was as good deal as she might have expected, and soon enough she took to the script, false as it may have been. And why? "If this had been my real life, I'd have been satisfied with it". Also, she loves what Sissy Spaceck did with her part: "I am the true heroin of the story, what more could one want?" So much for character.

Interestingly, Alan Ginsberg refused to cooperate with the film and forbade the producer even to use his name or quote from his poetry. So the Alan Ginsberg character in the movie is called Ira Streiker.

I am 60 years old and read On the Road for the first time in 1969. Last month, forty years later, I read it again. It was a weird experience... Kerouac's prose is baffling, he truly was a great writer, but the experiences he describes in On the Road have no meaning whatsoever. Actually, Neal Cassady is a low life (Kerouac more than once refers to him as "a rat"). And no biopic can change that.
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dead on arrival
mjneu5926 November 2010
Writer director John Byrun's Hollywood whitewash of the Beat Generation completely ignores its most conspicuous trait, settling for routine conformity over the uninhibited freedom, which gave the movement its energy and impetus. Instead of following their example the film tiptoes respectfully through the rebellious antics of Jack Keruac and Neil Cassidy, in tepid portraits calculated not to offend anyone, least of all Carolyn Cassidy, whose memoirs inspired the film and whose blessing the makers obviously courted. Nick Nolte (as Cassidy) fares best, but only for lack of adequate comparison; John Heard's portrayal of Keruac makes the over-indulgent writer seem a confused but nice young man unable to measure up to his own legend, and Byrun apparently never bothered to give Sissy Spacek a character at all. Each is simply a two-dimensional reduction of a historical archetype, and none is able to save the film from cardiac arrest.
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another cool movie not many have seen
gmswor27 January 2004
This is another good movie about a fascinating time, place and group of people in Americana that was missed by most people. It was a film that you didn't want to end. I highly recommend it, especially to the younger generation who don't know what cool really is...
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It Works
ken200020 June 2001
Heart Beat is an excellent little film. All of the actors manage to capture their characters. Subtle dynamic between cassidy and kerouac without a lot of 'acting'. Altho ray sharkey is a bit nuts, i suspect his ginsberg is not far off the mark. a good film & one i recommend.
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