Heart Beat


1h 49m 1980
Heart Beat

Film Details

Also Known As
Heartbeat
Genre
Drama
Biography
Release Date
1980

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 49m

Synopsis

Film Details

Also Known As
Heartbeat
Genre
Drama
Biography
Release Date
1980

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 49m

Articles

Heart Beat


Hollywood never figured out how to capitalize on the beat craze of the 1950s, as shown in MGM's embarrassing attempt to adapt Jack Kerouac's The Subterraneans (1960). With its theme being the rejection of societal moral values, Kerouac's beat novel On the Road (1957) was by definition unacceptable to the Production Code. No major Kerouac- inspired productions came along until 1980, when Orion distributed writer-director John Byrum's Heart Beat. The film examines the rebel attitude of the beats by concentrating on the three-way romance of Jack Kerouac (John Heard), his best friend Neal Cassady (Nick Nolte) and Neal's wife Carolyn (Sissy Spacek); it is based on her book Heart Beat: My Life with Jack and Neal. Recounting the period when Kerouac was writing On the Road, Byrum takes an almost nostalgic look at a movement that was perhaps a creation of the media: Carolyn Cassady stated that Jack Kerouac couldn't possibly live up to his own reputation. We mostly see the trio burdened by the same bourgeois values as straight people, sorting out jealousies and resentments as well as simply trying to make a living. Like many nonconformists, the trio discovers that dropping out and not playing the game does not change the rules by which they are invariably judged. Byrum's screenplay doesn't enlarge the scope of the story to include many of Kerouac's contemporaries, the hipster cohorts that helped defined Kerouac's appeal. Although Ray Sharkey plays an Alan Ginsberg-like character and Ann Dusenberry is vibrant as a young runaway and drifter, Heartbeat has difficulty making a larger statement about society. Instead of the 'cool jazz' of the author's writings, Byrum offers satirical criticism of '50s conformism, providing a response to the question put to Marlon Brando in The Wild One (1953): 'What are you rebelling against?' Critics were eager to discuss Heart Beat in the context of the much debated author, but found the film too constricted. Critic Stephen Farber wrote that the dialogue strains for literary sophistication, and that everything seems far too clean to be an accurate look at the beatnik life. In reality Carolyn Cassady had a vibrant life of her own in the arts. We don't really understand why she puts up with her ingrate husband and lover's frequent betrayals and desertions. Sissy Spacek's career took off in the same year in Michael Apted's Coal Miner's Daughter, while Nick Nolte enjoyed intermittent big hits like 48 Hrs. (1982). John Heard and Ann Dusenberry proceeded to the cult gem Cutter's Way (1981).

By Glenn Erickson
Heart Beat

Heart Beat

Hollywood never figured out how to capitalize on the beat craze of the 1950s, as shown in MGM's embarrassing attempt to adapt Jack Kerouac's The Subterraneans (1960). With its theme being the rejection of societal moral values, Kerouac's beat novel On the Road (1957) was by definition unacceptable to the Production Code. No major Kerouac- inspired productions came along until 1980, when Orion distributed writer-director John Byrum's Heart Beat. The film examines the rebel attitude of the beats by concentrating on the three-way romance of Jack Kerouac (John Heard), his best friend Neal Cassady (Nick Nolte) and Neal's wife Carolyn (Sissy Spacek); it is based on her book Heart Beat: My Life with Jack and Neal. Recounting the period when Kerouac was writing On the Road, Byrum takes an almost nostalgic look at a movement that was perhaps a creation of the media: Carolyn Cassady stated that Jack Kerouac couldn't possibly live up to his own reputation. We mostly see the trio burdened by the same bourgeois values as straight people, sorting out jealousies and resentments as well as simply trying to make a living. Like many nonconformists, the trio discovers that dropping out and not playing the game does not change the rules by which they are invariably judged. Byrum's screenplay doesn't enlarge the scope of the story to include many of Kerouac's contemporaries, the hipster cohorts that helped defined Kerouac's appeal. Although Ray Sharkey plays an Alan Ginsberg-like character and Ann Dusenberry is vibrant as a young runaway and drifter, Heartbeat has difficulty making a larger statement about society. Instead of the 'cool jazz' of the author's writings, Byrum offers satirical criticism of '50s conformism, providing a response to the question put to Marlon Brando in The Wild One (1953): 'What are you rebelling against?' Critics were eager to discuss Heart Beat in the context of the much debated author, but found the film too constricted. Critic Stephen Farber wrote that the dialogue strains for literary sophistication, and that everything seems far too clean to be an accurate look at the beatnik life. In reality Carolyn Cassady had a vibrant life of her own in the arts. We don't really understand why she puts up with her ingrate husband and lover's frequent betrayals and desertions. Sissy Spacek's career took off in the same year in Michael Apted's Coal Miner's Daughter, while Nick Nolte enjoyed intermittent big hits like 48 Hrs. (1982). John Heard and Ann Dusenberry proceeded to the cult gem Cutter's Way (1981). By Glenn Erickson

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Miscellaneous Notes

Released in United States Winter December 1, 1979

Released in United States Winter December 1, 1979