Bride of Chuck: Affairs Of The Heart (1992)

Dave settles down with a late night Cinemax staple and discovers that the ghost of a cult filmmaker looms over its creation.

God bless IMDb for all the good they do – but without an authoritative history of certain films, the database is prone to moments of wild inaccuracy.

AFFAIRS OF THE HEART is one such example. The Internet Movie Incorrect-a-base states a production year of ’94, a location shoot in Northumberland (!), and lists Chuck Vincent as the cinematographer… All of which I’m happy to debunk following a brief exchange with actor Josh Bergen, who confirms that the film was predominantly shot in New York City with frequent Vincent collaborator Larry Revene behind the camera.

Thing is, in hindsight, none of that is all that difficult to figure out. Vincent died from AIDS-related complications while Affairs of the Heart was being shot (the picture is dedicated to him). In terms of where it was lensed – well, the bustle of NYC is quite the contrast to the wilds of rural North East England. And as for a release date, a Cinemax premiere on Sunday 3rd May 1992 can be confirmed in a heartbeat.

Does Affairs of the Heart warrant such pernickety detail?

Yes, actually: it might be a tepid perennial on late night cable, but Affairs of the Heart is well made, and it boasts an endearing format and a star with undeniable presence in the form of Amy Lynn Baxter.

A Penthouse Pet in June 1990, Baxter’s star was on the rise due to a mix of talent and notoriety. The model hit the tabloids in mid-’91 following a fling with Ed Begley Jr. that caused the Best in Show (2000) actor to split from his then lover, Annette Bening. Roles in a steady stream of B-movies were beginning to rack up, notably Karate Warrior II (1988) and Summer Job (1989) – though it was through director Ernest G. Sauer where Baxter found consistent employment and valuable exposure among the Skinemax set, with the helmer hiring her for thigh-rubbers like Bikini Bistro (1995), Broadcast Bombshells (1995), and Web of Desire (1997).

The sex therapist concept is one we’ve seen repeatedly in both hard and softcore erotica. Here, Baxter plays Dr. Josie Hart: a former centrefold turned agony aunt at Casanova magazine. Mobbed by adoring fans everywhere she goes, Hart’s advice is held sacred by her loyal readers – and as she flies to New York for a photoshoot, we’re treated to six vignettes that recount some recent correspondence.

They’re a motley bunch that run the gamut of sultry scenarios; from Josh Bergen’s nerdy college kid who has the hots for the school cutie (Angela Nicholas), to Beckie Mullen’s flirtatious pool girl who comes on to a stuttering businessman (David Coughlin) that can’t quite believe his luck. However, Sauer and his regular writer Gary P. Conner save the best for last, with a cool spin on Paul Mazursky’s Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice (1969) as two vacationing couples share more than just a chalet.

Referring back to Chuck Vincent, it’s obvious that Affairs of the Heart was made by his regular crew pressing on post-mortem. Sauer and Conner served as executive producers on Vincent’s final movie, Party Girls (1990), and the presence of Joey Mennonna’s music, Todd Rutt’s art direction, and Larry Revene’s photography suggest that this spicy romp is very much a passing of the baton in respect to the late director’s territory – albeit significantly less campy. Even Robin Byrd (from Vincent’s XXX classic That Lucky Stiff (1980)) shows up in a brief cameo. While the straighter-laced Sauer lacks his sense of ribald fun, Vincent would have been proud – particularly with Revene’s nod at the American Society of Cinematographers’ Awards, whereupon he was nominated in the Outstanding Achievement in the Movie of the Week or Pilot Category. Granted, Revene’s work on Affairs of the Heart was pipped by Vilmos Zsigmond for Stalin (1992), but still – a sexy Cinemax caper up for an ASC gong?

That’s quite something.

USA ● 1992 ● Erotic Drama ● 80mins

Amy Lynn Baxter, Michael Montana, Josh Bergen, Beckie Mullen ● Dir. Ernest G. Sauer ● Wri. Mike MacDonald, story by Mike MacDonald, story concept by Gary P. Conner

U.S. video art courtesy of VHS Collector

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