Second Hand Hearts (1981)

PG | 98 mins | Comedy-drama | 8 May 1981

Director:

Hal Ashby

Writer:

Charles Eastman

Producer:

James Guercio

Cinematographer:

Haskell Wexler

Production Designer:

Peter Wooley

Production Company:

Lorimar Productions
Full page view
HISTORY

The summary for this unviewed film is based on reviews in the 10 Sep 1980 Var, the 5 Jun 1981 LAT, the 8 May 1981 NYT, and an article in the Jan 1979 American Film. The credits are per a screen credits report in AMPAS library files and may not accurately reflect onscreen credits.
       According to articles in the 19 Jul 1978 LAT and the Jan 1979 American Film, screenwriter Charles Eastman wrote the screenplay, then titled The Hamster of Happiness, in 1969 with the intention of making his directorial debut with the film. The 19 Dec 1969 Var announced that Warner Bros. made a deal with Eastman to direct, which included a second script by Eastman, The All-American Boy (1973, see entry). However, the Warner Bros. deal put The All-American Boy in first position, and Eastman made his directorial debut on that modestly budgeted film starring Jon Voight. Eastman went over budget, and the studio, unhappy with the rough cut, removed Eastman from the project. Warner Bros. recut the film, and eventually released it in New York in Oct 1973, where it “quickly died.” Eastman’s deal with Warner Bros. had him directing The Hamster of Happiness as his second film, and the studio wanted to cast Jon Voight and Goldie Hawn . The 26 Jan 1970 HR reported Eastman had revised the screenplay, and principal photography would begin in late Feb 1970. The 12 Feb 1970 HR reported Joe Naar would produce the film ... More Less

The summary for this unviewed film is based on reviews in the 10 Sep 1980 Var, the 5 Jun 1981 LAT, the 8 May 1981 NYT, and an article in the Jan 1979 American Film. The credits are per a screen credits report in AMPAS library files and may not accurately reflect onscreen credits.
       According to articles in the 19 Jul 1978 LAT and the Jan 1979 American Film, screenwriter Charles Eastman wrote the screenplay, then titled The Hamster of Happiness, in 1969 with the intention of making his directorial debut with the film. The 19 Dec 1969 Var announced that Warner Bros. made a deal with Eastman to direct, which included a second script by Eastman, The All-American Boy (1973, see entry). However, the Warner Bros. deal put The All-American Boy in first position, and Eastman made his directorial debut on that modestly budgeted film starring Jon Voight. Eastman went over budget, and the studio, unhappy with the rough cut, removed Eastman from the project. Warner Bros. recut the film, and eventually released it in New York in Oct 1973, where it “quickly died.” Eastman’s deal with Warner Bros. had him directing The Hamster of Happiness as his second film, and the studio wanted to cast Jon Voight and Goldie Hawn . The 26 Jan 1970 HR reported Eastman had revised the screenplay, and principal photography would begin in late Feb 1970. The 12 Feb 1970 HR reported Joe Naar would produce the film for Warner Bros. However, due to the problems with The All-American Boy, the studio’s enthusiasm for The Hamster of Happiness “cooled.” Eastman decided to break with the studio and offered to buy back script. He later claimed that the studio made $14,000 on the deal.
       Eastman repeatedly attempted to set up the project with himself as director. The 17 Feb 1973 DV announced that Howard J. Zukor Productions would make the film in association with My Shoe Productions. Eastman would write and direct, Howard J. Zukor and Reggie Fisher were to produce, and actress Susan Tyrrell was cast to star. The film would be independently financed, and principal photography in Texas was scheduled to begin summer 1973. When that deal fell apart, Eastman continued his attempts to set up the project, but repeatedly “ran into resistance” with his insistence on directing. By early 1978, Eastman was in debt, “exhausted by the struggle,” and ready to move on to other projects, when he was approached by actor Robert Blake and his producing partner, James William Guercio. He accepted their offer, and the script was optioned through Guerico’s Caribou Productions. They brought the film to director Hal Ashby, who had first been interested in The Hamster of Happiness in 1971, but had backed off when he learned Eastman wanted to direct. Ashby had recently signed an agreement to direct several films for Lorimar Productions, and was scheduled to begin production on Being There (1979, see entry) in fall 1978. Ashby decided to speed up the production process of his films, and suggested shooting The Hamster of Happiness and Being There back to back, with a six week hiatus between the two films. And then he would simultaneously edit both films in 1979. An item in the 24 Jan 1979 LAT reported that Ashby “wanted to experiment” by putting one film aside to obtain distance and objectivity while he filmed the second project.
       The project was budgeted at $4.5 million and principal photography began 18 Jul 1978 in El Paso, TX. Reportedly, the tight shooting schedule resulted in a strained production.
       The 5 Sep 1979 Var announced that United Artists, which was handling distribution, changed the title to Second Hand Hearts.
       An article in the 25 Jul 1980 DV reported that United Artists was contracted to distribute Lorimar’s productions through the end of 1981, but the companies terminated the agreement early. United Artists had planned to release the “long delayed” Second Hand Hearts in fall 1980, but its release was now in limbo as Lorimar considered distribution options, including setting up its own distribution unit.
       The 10 Sep 1980 Var reviewed the film at the 1980 Montreal World Film Fest, noting it was a last-minute addition and one of a group of American films having trouble getting distribution deals and release dates. The review noted the audience was “unenthusiastic” and many attendees walked-out during the showing. The film was released on 8 May 1982 to negative reviews. An article in the Dec 1981 Rolling Stone, titled “Big Bucks, Big Losers – Twenty-four films that bombed in 1981,” reported the production budget was $7 million and domestic film rentals were less than $10,000.
More Less

GEOGRAPHIC LOCATIONS
BIBLIOGRAPHIC SOURCES
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
American Film
Jan 1979
pp. 24-28.
Daily Variety
17 Feb 1973.
---
Daily Variety
25 Jul 1980.
---
Hollywood Reporter
26 Jan 1970.
---
Hollywood Reporter
12 Feb 1970.
---
Los Angeles Times
19 Jul 1978
Section IV, p. 8.
Los Angeles Times
24 Jan 1979.
---
Los Angeles Times
5 Jun 1981
Calendar, p. 6.
New York Times
8 May 1981
p. 11.
Rolling Stone
Dec 1981
p. 44.
Variety
19 Dec 1969.
---
Variety
5 Sep 1979.
---
Variety
10 Sep 1980
p. 32.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
WRITER
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
ART DIRECTORS
Prod des
Art dir
FILM EDITORS
Consultant
SET DECORATOR
COSTUMES
Cost des
MUSIC
Mus ed
SOUND
Prod sd mixer
Re-rec mixer
Re-rec mixer
MAKEUP
Hairstylist
PRODUCTION MISC
Casting
Addl casting
STAND INS
Stunt coord
DETAILS
Alternate Title:
The Hamster of Happiness
Release Date:
8 May 1981
Premiere Information:
New York opening: 8 May 1981
Production Date:
began 18 July 1978
Copyright Claimant:
Lorimar Productions, Inc.
Copyright Date:
31 August 1981
Copyright Number:
PA113167
Physical Properties:
Sound
Color
Duration(in mins):
98
MPAA Rating:
PG
Country:
United States
Language:
English
SYNOPSIS

Loyal Muke, an alcoholic carwash worker in Texas, awakens after a night of heavy drinking to discover that he married waitress and aspiring singer-actress, “Dinette Dusty.” The recently widowed Dinette claims she does not believe in divorce and insists that Loyal will be happier with her family. Dinette actually married Loyal so she could get back her three children, Human, Iota, and Sandra Dee, from their paternal grandparents who are seeking to obtain full custody. Dinette convinces Loyal to help her retrieve the children, and then embark on a road trip to California in his dilapidated automobile. Dinette, who once starred in a high school theatrical production of The Bluebird of Happiness, hopes to resume her acting career and become a movie star. Loyal, Dinette and the children encounter several misadventures on the trip, but overcome their obstacles and unite as a family. As they enter California, Loyal tells Dinette that he does not have a bluebird of happiness. However, he gifts her with a hamster of happiness that he purchased at a roadside ... +


Loyal Muke, an alcoholic carwash worker in Texas, awakens after a night of heavy drinking to discover that he married waitress and aspiring singer-actress, “Dinette Dusty.” The recently widowed Dinette claims she does not believe in divorce and insists that Loyal will be happier with her family. Dinette actually married Loyal so she could get back her three children, Human, Iota, and Sandra Dee, from their paternal grandparents who are seeking to obtain full custody. Dinette convinces Loyal to help her retrieve the children, and then embark on a road trip to California in his dilapidated automobile. Dinette, who once starred in a high school theatrical production of The Bluebird of Happiness, hopes to resume her acting career and become a movie star. Loyal, Dinette and the children encounter several misadventures on the trip, but overcome their obstacles and unite as a family. As they enter California, Loyal tells Dinette that he does not have a bluebird of happiness. However, he gifts her with a hamster of happiness that he purchased at a roadside zoo. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

TOP SEARCHES

CASABLANCA

During World War II, Casablanca, Morocco is a waiting point for throngs of desperate refugees fleeing Nazi-occupied Europe. Exit visas, which are necessary to leave the country, are at ... >>

CITIZEN KANE

Seventy-year-old newspaper tycoon Charles Foster Kane dies in his palatial Florida home, Xanadu, after uttering the single word “Rosebud.” While watching a newsreel summarizing the years during which Kane ... >>

REAR WINDOW

Laid up with a broken leg during the height of summer, renowned New York magazine photographer L. B. “Jeff” Jeffries enters his last week of home confinement, bored and ... >>

RAGING BULL

In 1941, at a boxing match in Cleveland, Ohio, pandemonium breaks out when Jake La Motta, an up-and-coming young boxer, loses a decision to Jimmy Reeves, suffering his first ... >>

CITY LIGHTS

At an outdoor dedication ceremony, a tramp is discovered sleeping in the arms of a statue as it is being unveiled before a crowd. He is chased into ... >>

The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.