Heart Beat (1980)

Heart Beat (1980)

“I’m gonna finish typin’ my book. No foolin’ around — I’m gonna play this thing like Charlie Parker.”

Jack Kerouac (John Heard) and Neal Cassady (Nick Nolte) are both in love with Carolyn (Sissy Spacek), but she marries Neal. While Kerouac writes and publishes On the Road, Neal carouses, and Carolyn attempts to maintain a stable home.


  • Biopics
  • Counterculture
  • John Heard Films
  • Love Triangle
  • Nick Nolte Films
  • Sissy Spacek Films
  • Writers

Response to Peary’s Review:
As Peary notes, legendary beat icons Kerouac and Cassady “come across as conservative dullards” in this “well-intentioned” but ultimately uninspiring biopic, based on Carolyn Cassady’s “sedate memoir”. The trouble, as Peary points out, is that we don’t want to see Kerouac and Cassady at their tamest; we’d rather “see them at their most undisciplined and outrageous.” Indeed, “people of later generations [watching this film] will probably wonder what the fuss was all about.” Plus, as much as I love Sissy Spacek, Diane Keaton (also considered for the role) would have been a much better, kookier choice to play Carolyn.

Redeeming Qualities:

  • One of the few movies about the Beat Generation

Must See?
No. As Peary notes, only those who are intrigued by the Beat Generation will be interested in this movie, and it’s certainly not essential viewing.


Leave a Reply