Heartbeeps

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Heartbeeps
Heartbeeps (1981).jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Allan Arkush
Produced by Michael Phillips
Screenplay by John Hill
Starring Andy Kaufman
Bernadette Peters
Randy Quaid
Music by John Williams
Cinematography Charles Rosher Jr.
Editing by Tina Hirsch
Distributed by Universal Pictures
Release dates
  • December 18, 1981 (1981-12-18)
Running time 79 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $10,000,000
Box office $2,154,696

Heartbeeps is a 1981 romantic sci-fi comedy film about two robots who fall in love and decide to strike out on their own. It was directed by Allan Arkush, and starred Andy Kaufman and Bernadette Peters as the robots.

Stan Winston's make-up work for Heartbeeps made him one of the nominees for the inaugural Academy Award for Best Makeup in 1982, losing to An American Werewolf in London.[1]

Plot[edit]

Val Com 17485 (Andy Kaufman), a robot designed to be a valet with a specialty in lumber commodities, meets Aqua Com 89045 (Bernadette Peters), a hostess companion robot whose primary function is to assist at poolside parties. At a factory awaiting repairs, they fall in love and decide to escape, stealing a van from the company to do so.

They embark on a quest to find a place to live, as well as satisfy their more immediate need for a fresh electrical supply. They assemble a small robot, Phil, built out of spare parts, whom they treat as their child, and are joined by Catskill, a mechanical standup comic (which is seen sitting the entire movie).

A law-enforcement robot, the Crimebuster, comes after the fugitives, but with the help of humans who run a junkyard, and using Catskill's battery pack, they are able to resolve their problems successfully.

Cast[edit]

Production[edit]

Because of a strike by the Screen Actors Guild, filming was shut down in July 1980 (along with numerous other motion picture and television series). The strike ended at the beginning of October 1980 (filming had started in June).[2] The film was aimed at children & was a failed experiment: Universal Pictures gave Andy Kaufman a blank check to make this film after focus group testing indicated that children liked robots, apparently in the wake of R2-D2 and C-3PO.[citation needed]

Bob Zmuda, in his book Andy Kaufman: Revealed, wrote that Kaufman and Zmuda had "pitched" the screenplay of Kaufman's The Tony Clifton Story, a movie about the life and times of his alter-ego Tony Clifton, to Universal Studios. The Universal executives were concerned that Kaufman had not acted in films, except for a small role, and arranged for him to star in Heartbeeps to test whether he could carry a movie. Because the movie was "a box office disaster", plans for making the Clifton movie were cancelled.[3][4]

John Hill adapted the screenplay into a novel, Heartbeeps, published by Jove Publications in December 1981 (ISBN 0-515-06183-2).

Reception[edit]

Reviews of the film were negative. Film website Rotten Tomatoes, which compiles reviews from a wide range of critics, gives the film a score of 0%.[5]

Vincent Canby wrote, in a negative review in The New York Times, that it was "unbearable" and a "dreadfully coy story."[6] Gary Arnold, writing in The Washington Post (December 23, 1981): "It's unlikely that Kaufman or Peters face serious career setbacks from a minor fiasco only a handful of people will ever see."[citation needed]

Kaufman felt that the movie was so bad that he personally apologized for it on Late Night with David Letterman, and as a joke promised to refund the money of everyone who paid to see it (which didn't involve many people). Letterman's response was that if Kaufman wanted to issue such refunds, Kaufman had "better have change for a 20 (dollar bill)".[citation needed]

Box office[edit]

The box office gross was USD $2,154,696, with an estimated budget of $10,000,000.[7]

Accolades[edit]

Award Category Recipient(s) Outcome
Saturn Award
Best Science Fiction Film Douglas Green Nominated
Best Make-Up Stan Winston Nominated
Academy Awards Best Make-Up Stan Winston Nominated
Stinkers Bad Movie Awards[8]
Worst Picture Michael Phillips Nominated
Most Painfully Unfunny Comedy Michael Phillips Nominated
Worst Screenplay John Hill Nominated
Worst Actor Andy Kaufman Nominated
Worst On-Screen Couple Andy Kaufman and Bernadette Peters Nominated
Most Annoying Fake Accent - Male Andy Kaufman Nominated

References[edit]

  1. ^ Gholson, John (April 16, 2010). "Sci-Fi Movie Poster of the Day: Heartbeeps". Moviefone.com. Aol. Retrieved June 1, 2013. 
  2. ^ "Behind the Camera on "Heartbeeps"", American Cinematographer (February 1982) Vol. 63, No. 2)
  3. ^ "Heartbeeps Trivia". IMDb. Retrieved 2013-03-30. 
  4. ^ Drees, Rich (20 February 2007). "Script Review: THE TONY CLIFTON STORY". Filmbuffonline.com. Retrieved 2013-03-30. 
  5. ^ "Tomatometer for Heartbeeps". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 2013-03-30. 
  6. ^ Canby, Vincent (December 19, 1981). "Robots In Love In 'Heartbeeps'". New York Times. Retrieved 2013-03-30. 
  7. ^ "Box office / Business for Heartbeeps". IMDb. Retrieved 2013-03-30. 
  8. ^ "THE STINKERS BALLOT EXPANSION PROJECT 1981". Stinkers Bad Movie Awards. Retrieved March 30, 2013. 

External links[edit]