Deep in the Heart (of Texas)

Deep in the Heart (of Texas) (1997)
Vanguard Films
Cast: Kenneth Cranham, Amanda Root
Extras: Theatrical Trailer, Featurette, Deleted Scenes

’Deep in the Heart (of Texas)’ is a film, based on a stage-play, which consists of several one-person monologues. These monologues have been brought to the screen with a newly constructed connecting story in which two British documentarians, Robert (Kenneth Cranham) and Kate (Amanda Root), venture to Austin, Texas in order to interview interesting people from the surrounding area. They encounter many diverse and colorful folks, such as a guard-dog salesman, an overly driven high school football coach, a recently widowed woman, and a young man involved in an interracial relationship. ’Deep in the Heart (of Texas)’ is a very unusual film. It attempts to be more than the series of original monologues, but doesn’t quite succeed. The story involving the filmmakers is boring and definitely feels tacked-on, even though they get very involved with their subjects (and attempt to save a famous tree in the process). As for the monologues, they still come across as monologues, with Robert or Kate throwing in a comment here or there. In the film’s defense, some of the monologues are very entertaining, as they are either funny, or moving, or both. (The guard-dog salesman has a line about a new breed of dog which is hilarious.) I admire the fact that co-writer/director Stephen Purvis wanted to bring the play ’In the West’ to the screen, but he may have been better off simply filming a performance.

’Deep in the Heart (of Texas)’ represents a leap-forward for Vanguard Cinema in terms of DVD quality. The film is letterboxed at approximately 1.66:1, but it is not enhanced for 16×9 TVs. The image is very sharp and clear, showing practically no grain, nor any defects from the source print. The colors are reproduced quite nicely, and the fleshtones all appear very natural. The framing seems accurate and there are no artifcating problems. The 2-channel surround soundtrack offers clear and audible dialogue, along with a solid bass response. The rear speakers offer some sound effects and some nicely done musical cues.

Along with the noticeable improvement in technical quality, this Vanguard release offers some nice extras. First, we have a 15-minute ’Making of’ segment, which offers clips from the original play ’In the West’ and interviews with the cast and crew. But, it also includes far too many clips from the film. There are two deleted scenes, and the theatrical trailer for the film, as well. There seems to be a mix-up a la ’The Insider’ with ’Deep in the Heart (of Texas)’. The DVD box promises ’Behind the scenes look director’s commentary!’. There is no audio commentary track on the DVD that I could find, so I can only imagine that this is referring to the ’Making of’ segment, as it does include behind the scenes footage and comments from the director.