Stab it, and steer!
Tuesday , June 29nd 8pm
Arlo & Esme 42 E. 1st street (between 1st & 2nd ave)
Wild at Heart (1990)
“This whole world’s wild at heart and weird on top”
In fairness, I don’t know if this qualifies as a car film. But it most surely warped me at a young age. The people I’ve dated, the cars I owned, the cities I’ve run to always had a bit to do with Sailor & Lula. So technically it might not a Car film be, but it is at the very least a kick ass outlaw, cross country love story, along the lines of Bonnie & Clyde, True Romance, Love & a 45, and Dirty Mary, Crazy Larry and hell Nick Cage IS driving a black 1965 Ford Thunderbird, and croons a proposal to Lula from the hood of her 1964 Pontiac Bonneville in the final scene…. and with that personal justification, Wild at Hearty joins the annals of Cine Meccanica infamy.
Sailor: [about Cousin Del –Crispin Glover] “Too bad he couldn’t visit that old Wizard of Oz, and get some good advice.”
Lula: “Too bad we all can’t baby.”
Opening scene: A big band orchestra plays over a sweeping shot of a swank cocktail party somewhere in Cape Fear. Lula Fortune (Laura Dern) dressed very 90’s does flapper, and Sailor Ripley (Nicholas Cage) channeling Elvis in a two-tone suit get harassed by a man paid by Lula’s mother to kill him. A fight ensues and the poor hitman’s head ends up bashed in on the white marble steps to a hard rock track by Angelo Badalamenti.
22 months, 18 days later…
Sailor: “Did I ever tell ya that this here jacket represents a symbol of my individuality, and my belief in personal freedom?”
Lula: “About fifty thousand times.”
Lula’s momma forbids her from ever seeing Sailor again. Responding, “Like Hell” Lula promptly picks him up at the Pee Dee Correctional Institution in his 1965 Ford Thunderbird. Donning his snakeskin jacket he hops in and they hit the road
“Those toenails dry yet, peanut? We got some dancin’ to do.”
While the kids are living it up outlaw style, unaware that Marietta (Lula’s momma, Diane Ladd) has sent a hit squad after them, including boyfriend Johnnie Farragut (Harry Dean Stanton) who’s “so sharp we could find an honest man in Washington”, and mob boyfriend Marcellos Santos (J.E Freemen), who only agrees to help if he can put out a hit on Johnnie as a perk.
Sailor (to club kid): “you gonna provide me with an opportunity to prove my love to my girl?”
Lulu (to club kid): “why hell, you just bumped up against the wrong girl is all”
Sailor brakes parole and the two head towards California with never a dull moment picking fights, having sex, and crooning Elvis tunes.
On the road, Sailor comes clean to Lula about the fact that he knew her dad, and had worked for the man that killed him. Right after finding out this dirty secret, Lula sees a vision of her momma as the Wizard of Oz Wicked Witch chasing them on a broomstick. Crushed “that things aren’t the way she thought they were” they come across a bloodied young woman (Sherilyn Fenn) who dies in their arms after stumbling out of a wrecked car. Lula knows now that they’ve been cursed and this was all an omen of bad things to come.
Lula: “One of these days the sun’s gonna come up and burn a hole clean through the planet like a giant electrical x-ray.”
Sailor: “I wouldn’t worry about that, Peanut. By then people’ll prob’ly be drivin’ Buicks to the moon.”
Meanwhile, Marietta having had a crisis of conscience and lipstick, freaks out (Bad Witch style complete with pointy black slippers) when she realizes that she sold out Johnnie to Marcello (her evil monkeys) in this mad dog hunt for Sailor and sets out to warn him. Finding him in New Orleans, the couple is reunited, but only shortly before Farragut is taken by hit men and killed in a bizarre voodoo ritual performed by Juana (Grace Zabriskie).
Short on money, and feeling the impending doom, Sailor and Lula stop in the small town of Big Tuna, Texas. At the motel, they party with the locals, including Bobby Peru “like the country” (Willem Defoe) who makes lascivious passes at Lulu, who tries to fend them off by clicking her heels to no avail. Lula, who’s not doing well, walls her self up in the room and soon reveals that she’s pregnant. Bobby finds out and convinces Sailor to help him in an armed robbery to finance his new family.
“that amount of money would get us a long way down that yellow brick road”
The next day, Sailor and Bobby, with Perdita (Isabella Rossellini) as the getaway driver, break into a bank, which turns out to be a set up. Bobby shoots the two teller clerks and turns on Sailor where he reveals that he and Perdita are the hit team sent by Santos and his boss (the ever weird Mr. Reindeer who has his own personal charm school of sorts).
Sailor shoots Bobby, but his gun isn’t loaded. A police car shows up and the cop starts firing wildly. In the ensuring chaos, Perdita fleas, Bobby is hit and instinctively shoots himself in the head, while Sailor gives himself up and is sent back to prison……Lula goes home with her momma and Santos.
Five years and 10 months, 21 days later….
Sailor is once again released from prison. Lula and Sailor’s young son, rush to meet him at the train station in LA. They try to pick up where they left off, but everything is awkward and Sailor says it would be best if Lula leaves him for good. Lula is crushed, and cries his name as he walks away.
Just down the road, Sailor encounters and is beaten up by a gang of thugs sent by Marietta. Passed out in the road, he has a vision of “Glinda the Good Witch of the North” (Sheryl Lee) who tries to reason with him:
Glinda: “Sailor Ripley….Lula loves you”
Sailor: “But I’m a robber, I’m a man slaughterer and I haven’t had any parental guidance”
Glinda: “she’s forgiven you all these things. You love her. Don’t be afraid Sailor”
Sailor: “but, I’m wild at heart”
Glinda: “if you’re truly wild at heart, you’ll fight for your dreams. Don’t turn away from love, Sailor”
Tearing down the road, screaming Lula’s name, Sailor finds them stuck in LA traffic, leaping over cars to reach them, he climbs on the hood of Lula’s 1964 Pontiac Bonneville and serenades Lula with Elvis Presley’s ‘Love Me Tender’. The song we swore he would only sing to his wife….
Watch the trailor here:
See you all out at the Flicks!