Heart Like a Wheel (1983)

“The only thing I do fast is drive.”

Shirley “Cha Cha” Muldowney (Bonnie Bedelia) battles discrimination and personal heartache as she becomes the top female drag-racer of all time.


Response to Peary’s Review:
As Peary notes, Bonnie Bedelia turns in an “Oscar-worthy performance as drag-race champion Shirley ‘Cha Cha’ Muldowney,” the first woman to break the gender barrier in drag-race competitions. Director Jonathan Kaplan wisely avoids trying to hit all the “key points” in Bonnie’s life; instead, he takes the time to develop a three-dimensional character with real-life goals and heartaches. Shirley is portrayed as a strong, independent, driven woman who “finds disappointment in her relationships with men” yet continues to strive “for triumphs in her profession.”
Redeeming Qualities:

  • Bonnie Bedelia’s excellent, natural performance as Shirley
  • Beau Bridges as Connie Kalitta, Bonnie’s “unfaithful lover”

Must See?
No, but it’s recommended.


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