Wild Hearts Can't Be Broken (1991) Poster

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The right stuff for kids and adults alike.
smartEpants6 January 2003
I watched this movie as a teen and would not hesitate to show it to my family. This is a sweet movie about overcoming adversity and realizing your dreams, and does not pander to the juvenile tastes that prevail in many family movies today.

Wild Hearts Can't Be Broken has intelligent, thoughtful dialogue, and addresses some of our deeper fears, i.e. losing family, not being wanted, and other problems that Sonora encounters throughout the movie. Sonora also has a romantic interest that is played out in a very family-oriented way, not full of the bawdy humor that current moviemakers feel is necessary, even in children's movies.

On the negative side, most of the time you are rooting for Sonora, and at other times her abrasive "I can do it myself" attitude can be somewhat annoying, but I guess that's what made her a star!
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inspiring, enjoyable, sometimes funny, sometimes exciting, also sad (SPOILERS)
vchimpanzee3 March 2003
Warning: Spoilers
During the Depression, Sonora and her sister are living with her aunt because their parents have died. Sonora claims her horse named Lightning can jump over a fence, and the other children dare her to do it. The horse breaks the fence and the cows get out. Then Sonora gets in trouble in school. Her aunt decides she doesn't want Sonora any more, so Sonora runs away and attempts to join a horse diving show. She schemes her way into a job helping take care of the horses, and eventually she gets her big break. A romance with Al, the show owner's son, doesn't go as well as expected. The show has various problems which are eventually overcome.

Sonora is confident, determined, and quite likeable. And she can sing. The movie has comedy, excitement, and some sad moments. I see this as a family movie, with only minimal violence (of the type to be expected with tough characters living in hard times), and nothing really that would bother parents. Overall, I enjoyed it.

SPOILERS: One of my favorite moments was Al's very public marriage proposal, which was somewhat embarrassing for Sonora, though the audience loved it.

I thought it would ruin the movie for me when Sonora went blind after an accident. But that was just a new challenge and it made the ending that much more exciting.
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10/10
My absolute favorite movie of all time
slugger42427 June 2003
I LOVE this movie!!! I must have seen it about twenty times so far, and I just watched it again today. Gabrielle Anwar is outstanding and beautiful (which makes me wonder why the photo used on the box is the most unflattering one I've ever seen of her). Cliff Roberston is perfect as Al's dad. Dylan Kussman and Kathleen York deliver exciting and great supporting performances throughout. Michael Schoeffling is gorgeous, and he is also an amazing actor... too bad he gave up on his acting career after this movie, just when it was starting to take off. Myself and hundreds of others would love to see him make a return!

Getting back to the movie, I feel so connected to the characters every time I watch it. While some people like it because of the horses, or because of the moral of the story, I just like the movie itself! I admire every aspect of it: the casting, filming, the set, and the true romance that is illustrated between Al and Sonora. The subtly delicate friendships and relationships between all the characters also add to the movie. I also greatly enjoyed the songs on the soundtrack, which are pretty much impossible to find anywhere else.

Although it's a twelve-year old movie, (that in itself makes me sad) it lives on through the heads and hearts of the people who continue to watch it again and again, like myself. I also firmly believe that if the movie were to be re-released into theaters today, it would be very successful. SEE IT!
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10/10
Great Movie--a favorite
brianna7813 March 2004
Maybe I am just sentimental, but I love this movie. I saw it when it first came out when I was about 13 or 14. It is a sweet story and Michael Schoeffling (playing Al Carver) is one of my favorite actors. He is no longer acting. I believe he quit his acting career to raise his family (which I think is commendable). The

storyline is interesting and romantic. I love horses and watching them dive is pretty phenomenal. I don't know how close it is to the true story, but it's

fascinating to watch Sonora (played by Gabrielle Anwar) overcome such

tremendous obstacles. It is a safe movie to show any child and most girls will like it if only because of the horses. Almost all of the characters are memorable and play their parts well. Well worth the viewing!
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9/10
Should Be Required Viewing for All "Professional" Athletes
jhclues1 September 2002
Based on a true story, this film is not only entertaining, but as inspirational as they come; a paean to the indomitability of the human spirit in the face of the kind of adversity that would make most of us simply roll over and quit. It's the story of the kind of challenges life can throw at anyone at random, and then follow up with yet another curve that seemingly takes it beyond the limits of human endurance. It's a film that should be required viewing for anyone who has ever cried out that the world owes them a living, because the message of `Wild Hearts Can't Be Broken,' directed by Steve Miner, is that `Life' isn't fair, but when the worst happens you have to pick yourself up by the bootstraps and get on with it; nobody's going to do it for you. It has something to do with a little thing called `pride,' and everything to do with the courage and tenacity it takes for someone to at least try to stand up when even the very hand of Fate seems bent on keeping them down. There's a very definite lesson to be learned from this story; a lesson of which many living in the world today would be well advised to take note.

In 1932, the Great Depression is on, but times are even more trying for teenager Sonora Webster (Gabrielle Anwar), who after losing her parents is taken in by her aunt, only to be told that because of financial difficulties besetting her own family, Sonora must be given over to the state. Undaunted, the head-strong Sonora, even at such a tender age takes it upon herself to set the course of her own life. She packs a bag and runs off to answer an ad placed in the newspaper by a certain Doctor Carver (Cliff Robertson), a showman looking for able young ladies to train as `diving girls' for his show.

As part of a traveling circus, Doctor Carver currently has only one diving girl, Marie (Kathleen York); the act entails diving a horse off a forty foot tower into a pool of water. Carver is skeptical that the young Sonora can do it, but she is adamant and refuses to leave until he gives her a chance. And so he does; Carver hires her, but as a stable hand. What he doesn't know is that he's just hired a girl who refuses to give up on something once she's set her mind to it, and when Sonora takes the job, it puts a hay fork in her hand, but her determined eye is on a horse, as well as that forty foot tower looming above that pool of water, beckoning to her, even as a dream borne on the wings of desire. And in her heart, Sonora knows that it won't be long before she's up there, herself. Up on the top of the world.

Working from a screenplay by Matt Williams and Oley Sassone, Miner delivers a poignant film that works at the heart strings, but at the same time circumvents any undo sentimentality. In light of the tragedy that befalls Sonora, this film could easily have played on sympathy and portrayed her as a victim of happenstance. But to be known as a victim would have been the last thing in the world the real Sonora Webster would have wanted; indeed, she took the lemons life handed her and made the proverbial lemonade, refusing to be a `victim' in any sense of the word. And that is the Sonora that Miner presents here, as he emphasizes the positive aspects of her life and what she accomplished, rather than dwelling upon the negative. It's a story of pluck and determination, the message of which is delivered in a straightforward manner by Miner, without resorting to any superfluous action or melodrama to sell it. This is a story that the filmmakers were wise enough to recognize would stand on it's own, without any attempt at dramatic enhancement. They have taken some license as far as certain dates and specific lengths of time involved, and certain elements are compacted in order to move the story along; but the important thing is, the essential elements of Sonora's life and her incredible achievements are portrayed accurately.

Young Gabrielle Anwar gives a performance in which she perfectly captures Sonora's spirit and the stubbornness that refused to allow her to give in to any and all of the obstacles life put in her path. Through Anwar's portrayal, we see a girl who overcomes the most heartbreaking situations by always looking forward; a true individual who always sees the glass as half full rather than half empty, and it's Anwar who makes that vital connection with the audience happen. It's a solid performance, worthy of the character she so ably brings to the screen.

Cliff Robertson gives a memorable performance, as well, as Doctor Carver. He affects an outwardly ostentatious look and attitude that marks him as a true showman-- he looks like Buffalo Bill in full regalia-- but he indicates an individual of some complexity residing beneath it all. And there is a reserve to his performance that contradicts his appearance and effectively points up that intricacy of his nature. Most importantly, Robertson is convincing, and it makes the flamboyant Doctor Carver very real.

The one weakness of the film is in the performance of Michael Schoeffling as Al, Doctor Carver's son. He has the chiseled features of a GQ model, and though his portrayal is passable, it lacks the depth that would've made it a bit more believable. He comes across as something of a `wooden' Matt Dillon, and while his performance does not necessarily detract from the film, neither does it add anything. It's a minor consideration, though, that `Wild Hearts Can't Be Broken' manages to transcend quite effectively. In the end, this film is a thoroughly satisfying and emotional experience. 9/10.
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8/10
Nice Lead Actress & Inspiring Story
ccthemovieman-112 September 2006
I didn't think this was as good as hyped at the time of its release, but it was still a nice, old-fashioned film and Gabrielle Anwar as "Sonora Webster" was a pleasure to watch. I'm sorry she never developed into a major star, although she's stayed busy in her acting career.

This is a based-on-a true story and if a woman really performed diving horse acts while blind, well, that is incredible. This is certainly an inspiring story.

I enjoyed looking at the recreation of the Atlantic City Boardboard during its heyday. Oveall, the colors could have been better in this film, however. There was too much brown, but it's not a major problem.

The story is the thing here and in that aspect, it's a winner.
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10/10
This is one of the best feel good, and tenderly romantic movies I've seen
joeestlinbm19 February 2005
Warning: Spoilers
Sonora Webster was a young lady who had the guts, and determination, of a linebacker. She was gonna be a diving girl, at all costs.

At first she just had menial jobs like shoveling manure, and feeding the animals, but as time went on, in her spare time she began to work very hard at learning how to mount a running horse. It proved to be both physically damaging, as well as humiliating, but she finally managed to learn how to do it with perfection.

When the main diving girl dislocated her shoulder Sonora got the chance she had been waiting for, and she pulled the dive off perfectly.

She traveled with the show while the other girl recuperated. One thing led to another, including the passing away of the owner of the show Doc Carver, played by Cliff Robertson, while they were on their way to Atlantic City to do a show.

It was in Atlantic City where tragedy, as well as what some might call a miracle took place, as also did the wedding of Sonora, and Al Carver, the son of the deceased owner of the show You'll have to watch the movie to find out more, I told you more than I should have already.
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Dreams can come true
dream_in_color8 September 2001
When i first heard of this movie and thought " Hey cool!! Horses!!", needless to say i was 12 years old and wanted a horse very bad. As i watch Wild Hearts Can't Be Broken i felt deeply touched by it's plot and fell in love with the movie. I think that it shows a unique perspective of the Depression and of life during that time. All people compliment each other great, and i find something different about each one every time i watch it. This movie has gotten me through some hard time by just realizing that if you are given a bad situation, it's up to you to decide how you are going to handle it.
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Wonderful
tink-88 July 2002
This movie is so good. The acting is incredible. The main character brings out the dreamer in us all. The rest of the cast is just as good. If you've ever doubted your ability to achieve a goal, this is the movie for you. See it. You won't regret it!
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Best Movie you'll ever see!
angelck335 November 2001
This movie is one of the best ones i have ever seen! Gabrielle Anwar is the best person for the part, the horses are great and whoever said that Michael Schoeffling can't act is CRAZY!!!! he very, very fine! He is the most fine guy in the movie business! But this movie is a must-see and i am surprised I havent replaced my old copy! I love it!
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10/10
They Will Never Break Her Wild Heart
Noirdame7920 December 2004
Warning: Spoilers
I saw this movie when I was fourteen, a friend of mine introduced it to me, and I fell in love with it. I loved horses as a young girl (and still do) but they are only part of the story. The determination of the orphan Sonora Webster, to achieve her dream, is inspiring and extremely entertaining. This is one of those rare films that effectively captures the era that it is set in, and where everything else seems to merge in harmony. The actors, costumes, scenery, music were all excellent, and the sweet love story between Sonora and Al Carver is subtly and gently captured on film, without relying on melodrama. Kathleen York as the snobby, high-society diving girl Marie, provides tremendous comic relief, along with Gabrielle Anwar and Cliff Robertson as the crusty Dr. Carver. I want to see this movie released on DVD and get all the recognition it deserves. I still enjoy watching it and it only grows more watchable with each viewing. It is a great family film and should be shared with everyone. Michael Schoeffling is so handsome as Al, and it's too bad (for us) that he no longer acts. His other great role was as high school hunk Jake Ryan in the teen cult hit "Sixteen Candles". Anwar covers up her British accent so convincingly you actually forget that she is British!!!! I can't stop raving about this movie, so I'll leave off with some of my favorite lines. Sonora: "The bathing suit doesn't fit! I look like a boy!" Dr. Carver: "You'll grow into it." Sonora: "What if it falls off?" Dr. Carver: "We'll get refunds."

Don't miss it.
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A charming film for young girls
Megan18 January 2004
I saw this movie when I was in third grade or so, and it was a favorite for a long time. You get gripped quickly by Sonora's stubbornness and determination to become a diving girl. The scenes where she practiced for that used to terrify me, what with all the horses thundering up the ramp and her leaping onto them to dive. The increasing drama of the latter part of the film would probably be too much to take for anyone past 14 or so, but before that age it's a great movie.
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A movie everybody could watch.
cmyklefty26 January 2003
I do not know how many times I watched this movie. It enjoyable every time I see it. Gabrielle Anwar who plays Sonora a runaway is desperately to make her dreams true as a driving girl. A lesson worth learn about in the film. All the performances are great. A film worth the celluloid it printed.
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10/10
This movie is the reason I love horses! It is the best movie in the entire world!
showjumpinggirl10 May 2001
This movie is so incredibly fantastic that I have no words for it. It is perfect! I would never have loved horses if it weren't for this movie. I watch it all the time. I even have seven copies of it! If you only see one movie in your entire life please let it be Wild Hearts Can't be Broken! It is an A+++++++ winner!!!!! This is the best movie in the entire world. It is excellent!
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8/10
An adventurous, bygone days film.
OllieSuave-00722 April 2017
I saw this movie in a middle school class. It was quite an adventurous story, about a daredevil woman who rides horses off of high dives. However, an accident involving one of the horse falling off a very high platform changes her life forever.

It was a somewhat entertaining, dramatic and adventurous movie from what I remember, with some good acting and a good story-line with achieving one's goals.

It's also quite a nostalgic film that reminds you of the old days (as it is set during the Great Depression). It's a good one for the entire family.

Grade B
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6/10
functional but nothing more
SnoopyStyle23 November 2014
It's 1932. Sonora Webster (Gabrielle Anwar) is a head-strong orphan in Waycross, Georgia living with her younger sister under her aunt. She gets into trouble at school. Then she reads an ad for a diving horse rider. Her aunt is about to give her over to the State. She runs away to ride the diving horse for Dr Carver (Cliff Robertson) in his carnival act. First she comes to the rescue to Dr. Carver's son, Al (Michael Schoeffling) after he's caught cheating at cards. Bumbling Clifford Henderson (Dylan Kussman) immediately falls for the beauty. The diving horse job is already taken by Marie (Kathleen York). Al helps Sonora to tame a new wild horse.

This movie has the feel of a well-made TV movie. Director Steve Miner can't seem to raise the level of the production. Anwar is a beauty but there is a spark of innocence missing. She is playing only a plucky one-note performance. That is more due to the writing. There's also an over-romanticization in this movie. In the end, this is at the level of a simple watchable TV movie but not much more.
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7/10
Makes good 'Horse Sense'
Rich Wright17 March 2013
Alas, I saw the trailer for this film before watching it (a practice I've now stopped) so I was aware of the 'big twist'. This didn't, however, impact one jot my enjoyment of this rousing tale of a spirited small town girl who breaks free from her humdrum life to live out her dream as someone who jumps off a diving board on horseback into a pool of water(!) Yes, I know it sounds daft, but we're talking about the 30's here... No internet, no TV and hardly anyone could afford to go to the movies. In other words, Hell On Earth.

Regardless, she overcomes many obstacles along the way, including a massive one later on... Which I will not reveal. She also falls in love with her bosses son, which is a tad creepy as she's playing a schoolgirl of about 14 and he must be about 30. The actress was about 20 in real life, but it still leaves a slightly bad taste in the mouth. Ick. If you can get over that though, it's good stuff all the way with arresting characters and a decent feeling for the period. It's one of the more polished Disney live-action films I've seen, and is well worth your time... 7/10
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10/10
will have you handiCLAPping
e-p-mcclain30 January 2011
This movie touched my heart when I saw it and I can't wait to watch it again after reading the review that talked of its complexities. Some movies touch your spirit and this was one for me... great to show to children!

Apparently my review was not long enough... sometimes you amaze at horses as they charge into battle and sometimes you amaze at horses as they charge off platforms for a bit of spotlight and if this sport would have or should have been controversial... as a child I hadn't a thought along those lines. The movie is full of love, passion, and determination.
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9/10
I hold this high and enjoy time again
industarz13 December 2010
When I learned Disney was going to make this film, I was excited because I heard there were once diving horses. But I could not have been more pleased with the intro given when I watched it and taped it off TV with Michael Eisner introducing it. He assured the viewers that no horses were injured and they jumped willingly. I knew it would be interesting then. So, I just cannot stress enough how wonderful and well made this film is ... it is family friendly, yet not sappy sweet... it is strong and interesting every bit of the way. While I enjoyed this film multiples of time, I try to pick it apart, but cannot find flaws in continuity or anywhere else. It is very entertaining and enjoyable to watch. After watching this film for about the 20th time (by myself, or with my kids) it was then only after reading the credits that I learned that the gray horse was played by two different horses and myself and my good eyes for horses could not pick that out. This is the best equine continuity job I've ever seen in a film (where more than one horse was used for the same horse). I love the acting, the interaction between characters and the gentle and strong ways love is depicted. I never get tired of this movie and rate it only second to The Black Stallion as the 2nd best equine movie ever made... and that is coming from somebody that knows horses.
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3/10
Mediocre story with bad direction...
dwpollar25 September 2010
1st watched 9/23/2010 -- 3 out of 10 (Dir-Steve Miner): Mediocre story with bad direction from Steve Miner makes what could have been interesting --- pretty dull. This true story is about a young girl from the depression era who is kicked out of her aunt's house, runs away, and dreams of eventually getting to Atlantic City and being a diver of horses(really, I'm not making this up). She has a love of horses and sees an ad for this position and has no idea what it is or what it takes to be this, but because of her current position she would rather be anywhere else and welcomes what looks like an adventure. Gabrielle Anwar, who plays the girl, is cute but there has to be more in a movie than just looking at a pretty girl. The direction is choppy at best and the story seems pieced together without good segways between the major story lines. The acting is OK, but nothing special. The characters include a boy interest, a new fatherly figure, played by Cliff Robertson(who is the boss of the side show she hooks up with), and a friend who stays to work with the company. She does get to Atlantic City with the show and dives but then suffers an accident that blinds her(this occurs late in the movie). She then has to work back into doing what she loves best while carrying her affliction(which makes the movie kind of Rockyesque). The story just doesn't have enough heart to carry it through, and the filmmaking is not good enough to make it watchable. Good attempt, but nothing special.
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10/10
Gabrielle rocks
leftyguns218 August 2007
Warning: Spoilers
This film starting Gabrielle Anwar , one of the most beautiful women the world is definitely a must see.

Anwar as the late Sinora Webster gave a great performance shows in fact that "Wild Hearts can't be broken". She was a woman who took challenges head on, with great courage she battle all of the obstacles thrown against her, and in spite of her eventual blindness she continued her performance against the odds.

She Webster(as played by Anwar) gave the performance of a lifetime, and proved that the determination of the spirit can overcome a handicap. In her case blindness. This is among the best film that I've ever seen ever. Webters's triumph of the spirit over her handicap is truly inspirational.
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10/10
My favorite movie
desertrose06016 October 2006
Wild Hearts Can't Be Broken is a wonderful movie that deserves to be watched. The writers did a great job capturing the essence of this true story. It's inspiring and endearing, full of energy and romance. I absolutely LOVE this movie. It always feels fresh and new, like I'm discovering it all over again every time I watch it.

I love the cinematography in this movie. Each shot is set up like a piece of art, capturing the scenery and the mood just right. The actors play each scene deliberately and with purpose, giving you a real sense of what it must've been to live in the Depression era.

This movie is perfect for all ages. I'm nearly 30, and I discovered this as my favorite movie when I was 11. I've watched it dozens of times over the years, and will continue to watch it for years to come.
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10/10
It's almost like a "Rudy" for women
maestroman7 June 2006
Warning: Spoilers
You know as much as I don't like comparing movies, "Wild Hearts Can't be Broken" is like "Rudy" The only difference is that a movie like this appeals more to women. Frankly I can't fairly say that because "Rudy" was made after this movie, but my subject heading isn't a bad thing. The lovely Gabrielle Anwar plays Sonora Webster the typical girl whose lost her parents and has discipline problems. So yes we've established that she has issues that can be considered as "odds" against her. Nobody really cares that she wants to dive horses, but she sees it then decides she wants to do it. So what does she do, goes through blood, sweat and no tears because her trainer Dr. Carver played by Cliff Robertson doesn't like criers. Anyway this movie is fast paced, but it gets a decent story across about a young girl who overcomes odds, at a time the odds are death threatening and makes her dreams come true. A real heartwarming movie.
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7/10
Amazing Girl and her horse story!
bohobabe61864 April 2006
This movie is a typical Girl and her Horse tale (no pun intended), but it's one that has more heart and realism than any movie of it's kind. It's a perfect family movie, something you should feel good about showing your kids and can enjoy yourself... but you should know that it has many of the clichés of the genre. (You'll understand when you see it) also, it doesn't completely focus on the horses, they remain in the backdrop while the entire movie focuses on this girl and her love story with a really attractive young man. If you have really young kids, this might not interest them... However, this is also a strength of the movie, since you don't have to love animals (or horses for that matter) in order to appreciate the depth and emotion in this heartfelt and sincere but often overlooked movie.
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Good fluff
Gab178913 April 2004
My dad rented this movie for me when I was little because it had horses in it, so he knew I would love it (which is true). I will admit, it is kind of sappy at some points, but all-in-all it is such a great movie about overcoming almost impossible odds by being totally stubborn. As I've grown older, I grown to really connect with this movie because, like Sonora, I am incredibly stubborn. All to often, heroines in movies get what they want by being submissive, pain-in-the-butt hippie-liberals, using thier looks, or mouthing off a la gangsta chicks. Never before had a seen a herione who was just completely stubborn and keeps kicking her own butt to prove herself to...herself. I still get chills at the final dive.....
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