From the Vaults: One From the Heart

This underrated Coppola flop is my favorite film from the Summer of 1982

Frederic Forrest and Harry Dean Stanton in
Frederic Forrest and Harry Dean Stanton in "One From the Heart"

As the Alamo Drafthouse embarks on its celebration of the action films of the Summer of 1982, I'd like to put forward my pick for the best film that momentous summer: Francis Ford Coppola's One From the Heart. Released in August and unfolding over the course of a July 4th weekend, the film was panned by most critics from the get-go.

Consequently, the film was barely seen in its initial theatrical run, and even Coppola's re-issue of the film (with minor trims and tucks) in 2003 failed to earn the film the audience it deserves.

Filmed completely within his Zoetrope studio, One From the Heart followed up Coppola's huge success with Apocalypse Now and The Godfather: Part II. The setting is an artificial Las Vegas of the mind, and the soundtrack by Tom Waits (which he performs with Crystal Gayle) makes the film something of a musical – the most artificial of all movie genres. Teri Garr and Frederic Forrest star as a couple who, instead of celebrating their five-year anniversary, pick fights with each other instead. Garr's character goes off and finds a Latin lover (Raul Julia) straight from one of her travel posters. Forrest's character operates a junkyard called Reality Wrecking with his best pal, who is played by the great Harry Dean Stanton. Nastassja Kinski is a circus performer who does a mind-blowing high-wire act. But as I said in my review, the real high-wire act really belongs to Coppola, who pays allegiance here to the movie gods of artifice.

One From the Heart has always been a favorite film for several of the Chronicle longtimers. For a piece on the occasion of the film's release by Chronicle editor Louis Black, see "One From the Heart." To read my review of the film, click here.

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One From the Heart, Francis Ford Coppola, Tom Waits, Crystal Gayle, Frederic Forrest, Teri Garr, Harry Dean Stanton

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