Chilly Scenes of Winter (film)

Chilly Scenes of Winter (originally released as Head over Heels) is a 1979 romantic comedy film, written and directed by Joan Micklin Silver.

Chilly Scenes of Winter
Chilly Scenes of Winter.jpg
Directed byJoan Micklin Silver
Produced byMark Metcalf
Amy Robinson
Griffin Dunne
Written byJoan Micklin Silver
Based onChilly Scenes of Winter
by Ann Beattie
StarringJohn Heard
Mary Beth Hurt
Peter Riegert
Gloria Grahame
Music byKen Lauber
CinematographyBobby Byrne
Edited byCynthia Scheider
Distributed byUnited Artists
Release date
  • 1979 (1979)
Running time
92 minutes
CountryUnited States
Budget$3 million
Box office$40 million

The film is an adaptation of the 1976 novel Chilly Scenes of Winter by Ann Beattie.

Name changeEdit

The first version of the film, with the title Head over Heels, had a happy ending. In 1982, the distributor re-released it with a new melancholy ending (just with the original last scene omitted), and the title was changed to match the book.[1] The film had a more successful run this time.[2]


Charles Richardson is a civil servant in his early 30s, working in the Department of Development in Salt Lake City, Utah, and he is an impetuous romantic. One day, he meets Laura Conley in the filing department of his office, and it is love at first sight.

Laura is a married woman who has just moved out on her husband Jim, a log-home salesman. She is disillusioned by her own marriage and wants to find herself. Charles gathers his courage and asks her out. Soon, she moves in with him and seems happy, but starts having second thoughts. According to Laura, he loves her too much. "You have this exalted view of me, and I hate it. If you think I'm that great, then there must be something wrong with you."

Laura leaves Charles and goes back to her husband Jim. Sam, recently unemployed as a jacket salesman, moves in with Charles, who tries to grapple with the loss of Laura. Charles's mother, meanwhile, is an eccentric who has suicidal thoughts.

Charles begins to make efforts to win Laura back. Charles finds out from his secretary Betty that Laura has left Jim once again and is living in an apartment with a roommate. Charles confronts Laura, finally asking her to decide if they will have a future together.



Parts of the film were shot in Salt Lake City, Utah.[3]


Reviewing the original version, Vincent Canby of The New York Times describes the film as "seeming to be on the verge of some revelation of profound feeling that, at long last, never comes." He does give high praise to the acting, writing "there's not a false performance in the film."[4] Leonard Maltin referred to the film as divisive—"it will either charm or annoy" the viewer. He awards it two and a half stars, presumably the original version.[5]


  1. ^ How 'Chilly Scenes' Was Rescued NY Times, October 10, 1982
  2. ^ Turner Classic Movies, Cult Movies Showcase
  3. ^ D'Arc, James V. (2010). When Hollywood came to town: a history of moviemaking in Utah (1st ed.). Layton, Utah: Gibbs Smith. ISBN 9781423605874.
  4. ^ Canby, Vincent (1979-10-19). "Screen: 'Head Over Heels,' Drama, Opens:Bachelor in Love". The New York Times. Retrieved 2012-05-07.
  5. ^ Maltin, Leonard (2009), p. 593. Leonard Maltin's Movie Guide. ISBN 1-101-10660-3. Signet Books. Accessed May 7, 2012

External linksEdit