Riches In Texas
Deep In The Heart
Stars: Jon Gries, Elaine Hendrix, D B Sweeney, James Haven, Val Kilmer, Rheagan Wallace and Martina Finch
Director: Christopher Cain
Scriptwriters: Brian A. Hoffman and Josh Fasula
Cinematographer: Ian Ellis
Composers: Jeff “Skunk” Baxter and CCJ Vanston
Rating: PG 13 for themed material
Running Length: 113 minutes
DVD will include the Film, Cast Interviews and Production Diary
Deep in the Heart is the story of Richard Wallrath (played by Jon Gries from Lost), who founded the Champion Windows Industry. Think in terms of “self-made man” and “pulling yourself up by your bootstraps.” Deep in the Heart tells the story of Wallrath as a man who fell into alcoholism and mistreating his family, then climbed out to become a giving man to the community and to family. On the DVD, one cast member remarks that “…making movies is not a democracy,…” and neither was being a Wallrath family member. There had to be give and take on both sides and sometimes it was hard learned.
We meet Dick Wallrath as a child, being beaten with a belt by his father for a minor infraction. The pattern of autocracy in the household begins--Dad is always right, no matter what. As an adult, Wallrath was a drunk and beat his family. He kept the same truck throughout most of his adult life and seeing that turquoise truck coming down the road toward home must have made it difficult to even stay in the house. There were five children, and when the oldest was in high school, Dick’s wife divorced him and left. Years pass, and Dick pulls himself together to join AA and find a job selling windows---which eventually leads to him buying the company and employing adult sons Gary (James Haven) and Michael (D B Sweeney from Jericho.) The daughters won't have anything to do with Dick, except Dede (Rheagan Wallace from CSI) the youngest. Whenever Dick is at his lowest emotionally, he prays and a stranger (an unrecognizable Val Kilmer from MacGruber) comes to him with advice. Dan marries Patsy (Elaine Hendrix from 90210) and proceeds to buy land and form the 6,000 acre Champion Ranch, becoming a benefactor to young people and education through his foundation. Money being provided by bidding on prize steers at the annual 4-H Shows. $70,000 and up were not unusual bids on animals. Still, there are problems within the family, including tragedy, and Dick’s stubbornness and temper do not help. Anger, sometimes, is embedded in the genes.
Deep In The Heart tells its story through flashbacks. Information is missing such as why Dick’s sons came to work with him with little persuasion. Were they salesmen? What happened to the daughters, with the exception of Dede, whose story is told with Dick’s. Is Champion the only window maker in the country or are there competitors? This would have made the story interesting in the business sense. Why did Dick choose the Boys and Girls Clubs as his favorite charity?
What we do have is a telling story of a man who hits bottom---embarrassing moments and all---yet pulled himself together to make a fortune. Deep in the Heart goes from 1937-93 with present-day film comments, also. Jon Gries plays the part of Dick Wallrath well and his body language is that of an angry man. Sons James Haven and D B Sweeney are not in the film long, but Sweeney can end a scene with a certain look to match the moment, whether it be contentment or anger. Like the period at the end of a sentence. That moment is complete. Production values are good, including the soundtrack, which is available now, fits the Southwest setting of the film and cinematography that brings the audience into the film.
Deep in the Heart actually is a bio-pic and by using flashbacks, writer Brian A. Hoffman, can tell the story in an interesting way. People can change and sometimes they change completely, while other times they keep an unpleasant part of their personality (anger and stubbornness) and work around it. It can be done, but there are hazards along the way including friends and family. The ability to relate to people is innate and in the story of Richard Wallrath, it was there, but took a great deal of work---and faith--- for it to emerge.