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Wild Hearts Can't Be Broken

2 Ratings: 4.0
A movie directed by Steve Miner

The true story of heroine Sonora Webster, a determined young rebel who leaves her colorless backwoods home in Georgia to answer a newspaper ad for diving horse girls.

Director: Steve Miner
Release Date: 1991
MPAA Rating: G
1 review about Wild Hearts Can't Be Broken

Wild Hearts Can’t Be Broken

  • Nov 27, 2002
  • by
Pros: truly an inspiritational movie

Cons: none

The Bottom Line: Good messages

This is based on the true story of Sonora Webster-Carver. Even though I tell the ending, it is based on true fact, written in history, so I am giving nothing away.

Sonora Webster was a headstrong and vibrant teen in the early 20’s. She and her orphaned sister, Arnette, were taken in by their aunt after the death of their parents to ‘The Fever’, which I assume referred to Scarlet Fever. Not one to follow rules, certainly a hardship during this depressive era, the aunt decides to send Sonora to the ‘state’ to be raised until she becomes of age.

Sonora takes matters into her own hands when seeing an ad for a diving horse girl, she runs away from the aunts home and joins the circus, which features a girl diving into a pool on the back of a horse. The circus owner, Dr. Carver, has little use for this young and not fully developed girl, but he soon meets up with the same headstrong character that has caused her so much pain at home. Dr. Carver agrees finally to let Sonora become a stable hand, mucking out the horse stalls, but she manages to convince Al, the son of Dr. Carver, to teach her the ways of diving on horseback.

When the head diver, Marie, becomes injured, Dr. Carver has no choice to but to turn to Sonora to take over the act. Naturally Sonora becomes an overnight success, much to Marie’s dismay, causing Marie to leave the show and giving Sonora the lead spot. Unfortunately, a bad fall in the water leads to Sonora’s blindness and it appears her career is over just as it begins.

But as you learn, wild hearts really can’t be broken, as Sonora conquers her blindness and returns to horseback with the audience never realizing she is blind. Sonora and Al marry and live a happy life for some time.

About the movie
Truly I have condensed this movie into a neat little package. There really is much more to the movie, actually quite an enjoyable story line. Nicely produced and written, it gives a definitive look into the peripheral effects of the depression. Generally we deal with mega lords and head honchos and how the big basket was emptied, forgetting about the small companies, such as Dr. Carver’s circus, that were hit hardest by the downfall of the American economy. As well, little was realized about the decline in the family, causing many youngsters to leave home and try to support themselves alleviating the familial hardships.

Applause has to be given to Sonora, who at such a young age, 16 I believe, to set out on her own with no money and no experience, really no marketable skills other than a stiff backbone and a determined air.

I remember many movies showing the great Steel Pier in Atlantic City, with the infamous horse diving advertised. One doesn’t think of the background and training involved for such an act, let alone a blind person partaking in same.

Sonora Webster-Carver, age 98, is still alive and well, living in a nursing home in New Jersey. In real life, both she and her sister Arnette left the aunt’s home to join the circus, both becoming diving girls. Arnette died in 2000 at the age of 87.

Wild Hearts Can’t Be Broken was written by Oley Sassone & Matt Williams, directed by Steve Miner. Although a good deal of the movie refers to North Carolina and New Jersey, it was filmed in Orangeburg, S.C. For the most part, the film has that ‘washed out’ appearance of an older era, which I feel adds to the ambience of the movie, much like ‘O, Brother, Where Art Tho?’ encompassed.

Ms. Gabrielle Anwar played the feisty and outspoken Sonora. Petite and playful, she did an outstanding job in this production. Michael Schoeffling was the handsome, daydreaming Al, who eventually became Sonora’s husband and a spirited Cliff Robertson played the gaming Dr. Carver.

Kathleen York minced her way through the spot of Marie, the original diving girl and cute and sweet Dylan Kussman was Clifford, who invented the first motorcycle in the ball act (you’ve probably seen those guys riding their motorcycles around inside the sphere). As Clifford says – It is a death defying act. I think he had a bit of a crush on Sonora, but he handled it well.

Yes, this has all the earmarks of a feel good movie with a nice story and messages galore. I highly recommend it, believe you would enjoy feeling good for a while.



Suitability For Children: Suitable for Children up to Age 4

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