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Desert Hearts (Two-Disc Vintage Collection) (1986)

Helen Shaver , Patricia Charbonneau , Donna Deitch  |  R |  DVD
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (159 customer reviews)

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Product Details

  • Actors: Helen Shaver, Patricia Charbonneau, Audra Lindley, Andra Akers, Dean Butler
  • Directors: Donna Deitch
  • Writers: Jane Rule, Natalie Cooper
  • Producers: Donna Deitch, Cami Taylor, Carol Jefferies
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Closed-captioned, Collector's Edition, Color, Dolby, NTSC, Widescreen
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo)
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Number of discs: 2
  • Rated: R (Restricted)
  • Studio: Wolfe Video
  • DVD Release Date: June 5, 2007
  • Run Time: 96 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (159 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000OVLC0W
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #37,646 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Desert Hearts (Two-Disc Vintage Collection)" on IMDb

Special Features

  • Never-before-seen footage of the famous love scene
  • New commentary by director Donna Deitch
  • New interviews with Patricia Charbonneau and Helen Shaver by director Donna Deitch

Editorial Reviews

It's 1959, and New York English professor Vivian Bell (Helen Shaver, The Color Of Money) has come to Reno for a quickie divorce. Staying at a dude ranch, she meets the proprietor's stepdaughter, the sexy casino change-girl Cay Rivvers (Patricia Charbonneau, Kiss The Sky). Despite their differences, sparks fly as free-spirited Cay introduces strait-laced Vivian to the wild-west casino scene and the haunting beauty of the desert. No one is angrier than the dude ranch proprietor (Audra Lindley, Three's Company). And no one is more surprised than the beautiful-but-repressed Vivian when the friendship evolves into unexpected, hot passion. Desert Hearts pulses with a 50's country western soundtrack featuring Patsy Cline, Buddy Holly, Patti Page, Johnny Ray, Elvis Presley and more.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
97 of 97 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Bonus Disc - Info June 6, 2007
By turtlex
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
Most people purchasing this item have seen the film. Desert Hearts is a contemporary classic and ahead of it's time when first released. It's a standard now in most every gay-girls DVD collection. This newly released two-disc edition includes some bonus materials.

I'll review the bonus disc as there are plenty of well written reviews of the actual film.

1. The "never before seen footage" of the famous love scene. This is the first bonus item on the extra disc. It is NOT a re-cut extended scene. This is the raw footage from, argueably, the most famous lesbian love scene ever. We are not necessarily given more content, but simply the same content from different angles, over multiple takes.

2. Commentary by director Donna Deitch. Fun and informative.

3. Interviews with the two main stars by director Deitch. To me, this feature is worth the price of this collection. Donna Deitch interviews both Patricia Charbonneau ( Cay ) and Helen Shaver ( Vivian ). These are one-on-one sessions which recall memories of filming and, more importantly, the impact the film had on both actresses. These interview sessions were done in March 2007. The only thing that might have made them more interesting would have been if the actresses had actually been reunited for the interviews. They are each interviewed, separately, by Deitch. While both actresses are fun to watch, it is Helen Shaver and her insights that are the most rewarding.

4. The Theatrical Trailer - This is actually interesting because, while the film hold up strongly, the trailer comes across as rather dated.

All in all, I'd recommend this set. It's a wonderful film, and the bonus disc will add a nice dimension to viewing it again.
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117 of 121 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Opposites attract in this wonderful love story May 22, 2003
"Desert Hearts," directed by Donna Deitch, opens in Reno, Nevada in 1959. The film, which is based on a novel by Jane Rule, tells the story of Vivian (played by Helen Shaver), a prim-and-proper college professor who has come to Nevada to get a divorce. There she meets Cay (Patricia Charbonneau), a lusty, free-spirited casino worker. The relationship between these two beautiful women is the focus of the film.
"Desert Hearts" is a wonderful film. It's very erotic, tender, and moving. The women's story is complemented by excellent production values and effective use of period music. The performances are superb all around. The leads are backed by a great supporting cast; Audra Lindley is particularly good in a zesty, touching performance as Cay's stepmother. But it's the powerful chemistry between Shaver and Charbonneau which ultimately drives the film. Every scene between them is one to be savored.
The DVD version of the film includes a fascinating feature-length commentary track by director Deitch. She discusses the original novel, her own relationship with novelist Rule, the casting process, the music of the film, key scenes, and much more. Particularly fascinating is the window she offers into the financial realities of independent filmmaking.
"Desert Hearts" is about romantic love between two women. It's also about a mother-daughter relationship and about friendship between women. The beautiful scenes of the land and horses as well as the casino scenes give added appeal to the story of these interconnected relationships. I highly recommend this enjoyable and touching film.
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57 of 58 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Stole My Heart October 10, 2000
By A Customer
Format:VHS Tape
I loved this movie! It is my all-time, favorite lesbian love story. More recent films have touted themselves as having eclipsed this story, but frankly, I have not yet seen a lesbian film that is better than this one. Yeah, this film has some hokey parts. I do not like the way that director, Donna Deitch suddenly fades to black as a transitioning technique. I do, however, like the 1950's vocal music in the background. The music mirrors the mood of the film and of the characters. I also liked the authenticity of the film in terms its 1950's setting. I liked the old cars and the old clothes and the old slot machines. Even the leather couch and the cowboy-patterned dishes hasten back to the 1950's. I especially liked the performance of Helen Shaver as Vivian Bell, the uptight eastern professor who comes to Reno for a quickie divorce. I had seen her in movies before but it took this movie for me to recognize the depth of her talent. Audra Lindley (AKA, TV's Mrs. Roper from Three's Company) is also excellent. I never really knew where the Audra Lindley character was coming from, even though I have probably seen the film at least ten times. I think that not understanding the character's full motivation is part of the intrigue of her performance; you're never really sure where her true affections lie. The interplay between the two main characters is awesome. It is wonderful to see the attraction grow and to see the younger character's boldness and both character's vulnerability. I give credit to the writer, director and actresses for the authenticity with which they recreated the awkward and often tentative moments of new love. If you never buy or see another lesbian film, buy and see this one.
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32 of 33 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The lesbian classic that raised the bar! February 7, 2007
This is the definitive lesbian love story that launched the genre in a new direction. This wonderful love story brings lesbian love into the light of day with beautiful women, looking and acting sexy, and leading productive, respectable lives. Vivian arrives in Reno to get a divorce, and meets free-spirited, self-assured Cay. The Reno landscape in the 50's is a great backdrop for the conflicts that lesbians encounter. This is a story about romantic love between women, mother-daughter relationship, and friendship. The filming is top notch, the sets and period clothing are spot on. The musical scores (50's country and western) are superb and the cast was wonderful! Charbonneau and Shavers are sensational as total opposites who eventually become drawn and attrated to each other. Just a masterful duette of performances! Cay, free and fully out, forward and knowing just what she wants; Vivian, tentative and reluctant to step outside of her cultured and closed box. Every minute they spend with each other oozes electricity and sexual tension. Two georgeous women making love?? HELLO! The love scene is landmark. Audra Lindley is wonderful and perfectly cast as Cay's stepmom. Cay's best friend, Silver, is absolutely a key (and skintillating!) role in the dynamics of these characters; she is the definative support and validation that these women are wonderful people, and deserve love and happiness. We all need a little "Silver" in our lives!!
This story is completely intriguing, and HEY, what a wonderful ending! SEQUEL, SEQUEL!!! This is an absolute must have in any collection. Timeless tale of the beauty of lesbian love.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Very good
Published 2 days ago by Wayne
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Fun movie.
Published 28 days ago by Vicky
4.0 out of 5 stars Probably could have given it a five, but the ...
Probably could have given it a five, but the ending was somewhat ambiguous. We just don't know what happened after the final scene.
Published 1 month ago by gary13136
5.0 out of 5 stars I like this movie because there is a story to it ...
I like this movie because there is a story to it not just a quick roll in the hay. Wonderful acting good music . Read more
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5.0 out of 5 stars A classic Lesbian movie!!
Always a classic Lesbian movie and it always will be. this movie started out the path for future movies to follow.. Still great to watch. and Patricia Arquette is just too hot.
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