Bobby Roth’s Heartbreakers, Nick Mancuso, and The Stuck Betamax Tape

February 16, 2016 | By

With Valentine’s Day now done, it seems appropriate to move from a day of love and devotion to a film about two womanizers who sort of learn that behaving like brats can’t be sustained into full-grown adulthood without consequences.

Heartbreakers1984_posterI think every critic has a small collection of films that have yet to migrate to DVD, some archived on long dead formats in home taping jobs, or as actual pre-recorded media.

Case in point: Heartbreakers (1984).

Not the 2001 Sigourney Weaver comedy, but the 1984 Bobby Roth drama (with dry comedic touches) which did the rounds on videotape and TV (mostly cable & Pay TV due to its bits of R-rate boobery), and has seemingly vanished from distribution. Orion Pictures released this small drama in cinemas, and Vestron Video handled the domestic tape distribution on VHS and Betamax.

Roth’s film stars Peter Coyote and Kathryn Harrold, and Canadians Nick Mancuso and Carole Laure, and although not a CanCon production, this marks the second pairing of the latter actors, having appeared in the Quebecois classic Maria Chapdelaine a year earlier.

Because my viewing the film on tape was preceded and followed by a series of classic analogue mishaps (dirty heads from VCR disuse + stuck tape syndrome, or STS), I’ve posted details and stills at my filmmaking blog, Big Head Amusements, and made a short cheeky video covering the not-quite delicate extrication of the vintage tape.

If said Betamax tape could be folded out and flattened like a box to examine its surfaces and sides in fetishistic detail, it would look like this:




And if said tape sleeve (actually made of cardboard!) could be folded out and flattened, it would look like this:




The shorty-short video, appropriately titled The Stuck Betamax Tape (not to be confused with The Magic Beta Case, another short linked at the end of this prior blog), is available on Vimeo and YouTube in 1080p:







Also added is a quick review of the Tangerine Dream soundtrack album, which is quite different from the band’s more atmospheric horror and sci-fi work in films like Strange Behavior (1981), Legend (1985), and Near Dark (1987).

And lastly, recommended is Norman Wilner’s interview with co-star Nick Mancuso in a recent episode of his excellent and weekly podcast series Someone Else’s Movie, where the veteran actor discusses Frederico Fellin’s 8 1/2 (1963), plus some career reflections and amusing tangents. Heartbreakers isn’t touched upon, but there’s some mention of Mancuso’s best (and appropriately histrionic) performance in another CanCon classic in need of a legit and HD release, Ticket to Heaven (1981), which I have on a CED and will watch using a vintage player for a future blog.




Mark R. Hasan, Editor

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