A Must Watch Old Romance “Desert Hearts”

Patricia Charbonneau made her cinematic debut with Desert Hearts. Charbonneau and Shaver were required by their contract to do the sex scene in the hotel room without the use of body doubles and to be naked on camera from the waist down. The sequence was shot on the second-to-last day of production, with the only crew members being cinematographer Robert Elswit and a boom operator. The Samuel Goldwyn Company demanded that the sequence be trimmed down, but Deitch refused. Helen Shaver characterised it as “profoundly personal” in a 1986 interview with the Los Angeles Times.

Donna Deitch directed Desert Hearts, a 1985 American romantic drama film. Natalie Cooper wrote the script, which is based on Jane Rule’s 1964 lesbian book Desert of the Heart. It’s set in 1959 in Reno, Nevada, and recounts the storey of a university professor on the verge of divorce who discovers her true self via a connection with a more self-assured woman. Helen Shaver and Patricia Charbonneau appear in the picture, which also has Audra Lindley in a supporting role.

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What is There in the Movie Desert Hearts 

Vivian Bell, a 35-year-old English professor at Columbia University in New York City, travels to Reno in 1959 to establish residence (a six-week process) in order to secure a speedy divorce. She stays in a guest ranch for ladies who are awaiting the finalisation of their divorces. Frances Parker is the owner of the property. Vivian meets Cay Rivers, a young, free-spirited sculptor, shortly after arriving in Reno. Frances was Cay’s late father’s longstanding mistress, and she raised Cay when her real mother (Glenn’s wife) abandoned her. Cay works as a change operator at a Reno casino and is concluding a relationship with her supervisor, Darrell, claiming that she was “attracted to his attraction.”

Cay takes an instant interest in Vivian when she arrives; the respectable, elegant Vivian is taken aback by Cay’s lack of care for what others think of her, given that Cay has had previous relationships with women. As Cay and Vivian get closer, Frances grows angry, both appalled by Cay’s lesbianism and afraid of Cay abandoning her.

Cay takes a moderately drunk Vivian to view Pyramid Lake at dusk and kisses her after they attend an engagement party for Silver, Cay’s closest friend and coworker. Vivian kisses Cay passionately back, but she grows nervous and begs Cay to drive her home. When they return to the ranch the next morning, Frances screams at Vivian and accuses her of seducing her.

Desert Hearts

Cay, who is badly harmed, departs the ranch right away, while Vivian stays at a motel near the casino for the rest of her trip. Cay later comes to Vivian’s hotel room, where they argue at first but eventually consummate their love when Cay removes her clothing and asks Vivian to bed. Vivian’s divorce is about to be finalised, and the two are debating their relationship’s future. Cay tries to reconcile with Frances during Silver’s wedding, claiming that Vivian “simply reached in and wrapped a string of lights around my heart,” mirroring Frances’ own description of how she fell in love with Glenn.

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What is Interesting In Desert Hearts movie

Desert Hearts is based on Jane Rule’s 1964 romantic book Desert of the Heart. Donna Deitch was looking for a lesbian romance narrative that “was mainstream, not in the context of the women’s community or (New York’s) the Village” in 1979. The original narrative was followed in Deitch’s initial draught of the script, but when Natalie Cooper was appointed as the screenwriter, she deviated away from it.

The major protagonists’ names were changed: Evelyn Hall was renamed Vivian Bell, and Ann Childs was become Cay Rivers. Other characters were reduced in size or deleted entirely, subplots were removed, and the love scene was made explicit. The picture was praised as “beautifully simple” by Jane Rule.

With a $20,000 grant from the National Endowment for the Arts and sales of $15,000 shares to stock brokers and private investors, Deitch was able to generate the $1.5 million needed for the production budget. Lesbian and feminist women from numerous places around the United States made up the largest group of investors, while the largest single investment was a homosexual male.

She held fundraising events and sent out a regular newsletter to keep investors up to date on the project’s progress. It took nearly four years to get funding. She finally had to sell her home to finance the price of the project. Deitch stated in a 1991 interview with The Guardian: “In San Francisco, I marketed it as a political statement. As Art in New York. In Los Angeles, I persuaded them that it would be a box office success.”

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Wrapping Up

Deitch made history as the first lesbian director to have a sex scene between women shown to a wide audience in a movie theatre. Helen Shaver and Patricia Charbonneau were advised by their friends and agents that the film would harm their careers 20 years after it was released, which she found surprising. Shaver stated in a 1986 Globe and Mail interview that she was being considered for a role in Joshua Then and Now, which would have advanced her career well beyond Desert Hearts. Donna Deitch informed her over the phone that she was the appropriate fit for her film, and she stated that she would not hang up until she had a response. Shaver accepted the position after five minutes.

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