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Desert Hearts (1985)

R | | Drama, Romance | 7 March 1986 (USA)
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A woman on the precipice of divorce becomes drawn to a ranchowner's daughter.

Director:

Donna Deitch

Writers:

Jane Rule (novel), Natalie Cooper
Reviews
2 wins & 2 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Helen Shaver ... Vivian Bell
Patricia Charbonneau ... Cay Rivvers
Audra Lindley ... Frances Parker
Andra Akers Andra Akers ... Silver
Gwen Welles ... Gwen
Dean Butler ... Darrell
James Staley ... Art Warner
Katie La Bourdette Katie La Bourdette ... Lucille
Alex McArthur ... Walter
Tyler Tyhurst Tyler Tyhurst ... Buck
Denise Crosby ... Pat
Antony Ponzini ... Joe
Brenda Beck Brenda Beck ... Joyce
Sam Minsky Sam Minsky ... Best Man
Patricia Frazier Patricia Frazier ... Change Girl
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Storyline

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 <njl@cix.compulink.co.uk>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

In Reno, She Gambled Her Heart On A Different Kind Of Love See more »

Genres:

Drama | Romance

Certificate:

R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

7 March 1986 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Desert Hearts See more »

Filming Locations:

Reno, Nevada, USA

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Box Office

Budget:

$1,250,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$22,862, 6 April 1986, Limited Release

Gross USA:

$2,492,088
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The song "Crazy" by Patsy Cline was released in 1961. The movie is set in 1959 and the song is on in the background in the movie. See more »

Goofs

Toward the end of the movie, when Vivian and her divorce lawyer are walking down the steps of the courthouse, you can see an older woman with a straw hat walk up the stairs by them. When Vivian & the lawyer reach the door to walk outside, you can see the same woman walking in. See more »

Quotes

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

Alternate Versions

The US DVD release is 5 minutes shorter than the theatrical version (91 as opposed to 96 minutes). The most noticeable cut is in the sex scene which is slightly briefer than the original. See more »

Connections

Featured in Desert Hearts: Interview of Stars by Director (2007) See more »

Soundtracks

CRY
Written by Churchill Kohlman
Performed by Johnnie Ray
Courtesy of CBS Records
See more »

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User Reviews

thank you, Donna Deitch
14 February 2000 | by nun of the aboveSee all my reviews

"Desert Hearts" makes me feel all warm and romantic whenever I think about it, and this I attribute mostly to director Deitch. Credit is also due to screenwriter Natalie Cooper for making sense of Jane Rule's molasses-thick quagmire of a novel, and to a super cast of supporting players. Alex McArthur is James-Dean-cute in his fresh and much welcome film debut as Cay's charmingly sensitive brother Walter. Audra Lindley is great as Cay's dear gruff mom Frances, and Andra Akers, new to me, purrs and scintillates as Silver. The soundtrack is one-of-a-kind wonderful with Patsy Cline, Ella Fitzgerald and on and on. I can't tell you how many times I saw "Desert Hearts" in a theater but for months after, a certain song (or a lone train whistle) would evoke sweet haunting memories...

As for Cay and Vivian, Patricia Charbonneau and Helen Shaver portray two sympathetic and instantly familiar female characters, but I've gotta give this to Donna, too. Why? Because this is the only production in which Shaver and Charbonneau (sounds good when you say 'em together!) rise above their usual below-average efforts. (I've seen enough of their film and TV work to make an admittedly personal judgment.) My gut feeling is that Deitch created a safe environment of honesty and acceptance, and encouraged and nurtured the heck out of her allegedly straight stars. In return they offered her an intimate duet of performances that, like the sleek sexy tailfins on Cay's Buick convertible, gave us a classic.


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