Cheatin' Hearts (1993) from Tuna

This film was released on video in Germany as Paper Hearts. Cheatin' Hearts is the US incarnation of this direct-to-video effort. At least I guess it went straight to video, since I see no evidence of a theatrical release. In fact, I guess t could easily have been made for cable. 


I don't know what it is about me and IMDb genre choices lately, but IMDb lists this as a western. While it takes place in New Mexico, and the male lead wears a cowboy hat, it is decidedly not a western. This is especially frustrating because I am not sure exactly what it is. I suppose "drama" is general enough to cover it.

As the film opens, Jenny (Sally Kirkland) is told that her mortgage has been turned down, and she will lose her family home the following Monday. She has never lived anywhere else and the house was built by her grandparents, but her husband (James Brolin), who has abandoned the family, took out a mortgage to buy a garage in town. After he split, she couldn't afford the payments. The timing is bad as well, as her younger daughter is getting married. Sally hopes to see Brolin for the wedding, as does the daughter. Their older daughter, who describes herself as the daughter from hell, shows up from Julliard. About the only bright spot in Kirkland's world is Kris Kristofferson, who is waiting patiently for her.

Daddy does arrive, but has his new girlfriend in tow, safely hidden in a motel. Kirkland guesses correctly that he is after something. Will Brolin's life and lies catch up with him? Will Kirkland lose the house? Does Kristofferson have a chance?

Aha! Now I get it. This is a melodrama. We have the evil banker waiving the deed and molesting the poor heroine, Snidely Whiplash (Brolin) trying to defraud Nell (Kirkland) one last time for his own gain, and the foreclosure deadline playing the part of the lumber mill. Will Dudley Doright (Kristofferson) arrive in time?

It's a film that looks good, and is full of likable characters, but somehow just doesn't add up to a good film. I am not sure the script could have been made into a better film, but a little more focus on humor or sex might have given it broader appeal, and Pamela Gidley as the older "daughter from hell" deserved much more exposure as the girl conflicted by her love for a local and her desire to escape what she considers a dead end life. As it was made, Cheatin' Hearts languishes in no man's land with a G look about it and a PG script, but an R for the full-frontal nude scene.



  • No features
  • the transfer is anamorphically enhanced, and is not especially vivid



Sally Kirkland 24 years older and many cup sizes larger than in Coming Apart is again doing full frontal and rear nudity, this time in an amusing confrontation with Brolin in the street. It was nice to see Kirkland making good use of her implants.

The Critics Vote ...

  • No major reviews online

The People Vote ...

  • IMDB summary. IMDb voters score it 4.2/10, but based on a meaningless 22 votes. It's probably a bit better than indicated by that score.
The meaning of the IMDb score: 7.5 usually indicates a level of excellence equivalent to about three and a half stars from the critics. 6.0 usually indicates lukewarm watchability, comparable to approximately two and a half stars from the critics. The fives are generally not worthwhile unless they are really your kind of material, equivalent to about a two star rating from the critics, or a C- from our system. Films rated below five are generally awful even if you like that kind of film - this score is roughly equivalent to one and a half stars from the critics or a D on our scale. (Possibly even less, depending on just how far below five the rating is.

Our own guideline:

  • A means the movie is so good it will appeal to you even if you hate the genre.
  • B means the movie is not good enough to win you over if you hate the genre, but is good enough to do so if you have an open mind about this type of film. Any film rated B- or better is recommended for just about anyone. In order to rate at least a B-, a film should be both a critical and commercial success. Exceptions: (1) We will occasionally rate a film B- with good popular acceptance and bad reviews, if we believe the critics have severely underrated a film. (2) We may also assign a B- or better to a well-reviewed film which did not do well at the box office if we feel that the fault lay in the marketing of the film, and that the film might have been a hit if people had known about it. (Like, for example, The Waterdance.)
  • C+ means it has no crossover appeal, but will be considered excellent by people who enjoy this kind of movie. If this is your kind of movie, a C+ and an A are indistinguishable to you.
  • C means it is competent, but uninspired genre fare. People who like this kind of movie will think it satisfactory. Others probably will not.
  • C- indicates that it we found it to be a poor movie, but genre addicts find it watchable. Any film rated C- or better is recommended for fans of that type of film, but films with this rating should be approached with caution by mainstream audiences, who may find them incompetent or repulsive or both. If this is NOT your kind of movie, a C- and an E are indistinguishable to you.
  • D means you'll hate it even if you like the genre. We don't score films below C- that often, because we like movies and we think that most of them have at least a solid niche audience. Now that you know that, you should have serious reservations about any movie below C-. Films rated below C- generally have both bad reviews and poor popular acceptance.
  • E means that you'll hate it even if you love the genre.
  • F means that the film is not only unappealing across-the-board, but technically inept as well.


Based on this description, this film is a D+. It's not a terrible film, nor an incompetent one. It just doesn't seem to have the ability to please any audience.

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