DVD: Your Cheatin’ Heart (1990)
Dorwood Crouch is doing time for armed Robbery. His wife Cissie (Tilda Swinton) asks local food writer Frank McClusky (John Gordon Sinclair) to help her clear his name. Cissie believes Fraser Boyle (Ken Stott) a ‘musical’ fish seller has framed him. All this happens with a backdrop of some great country and western/rockabilly music (Eddi Reader being the main voice), and a real ‘feel’ of late 80’s Scotland.
I thought I’d seen Your Cheatin’ Heart on its ONLY showing on BBC 2 back in 1990, but I was wrong (I was still living in America) and I’d got it confused with Tutti Frutti; John Byrne’s other famous Scottish series. What a complete JOY to watch this series! I have to admit that episode one is hard work, and I think a few people would watch and think…”what the hell is happening?” Bear with it though because the reward is great. Here we have a real intimate, crazy, thoroughly Scottish tale of love, lies, song, deception and of course some cheating hearts.
Tilda Swinton; young, beautiful and swan like, her sad eyes (and amazing curlywurly hair) gaze into the distance as she mourns lost loves, showing her potential acting chops already in this series. Ken Stott gives us a great bad guy; sort of sexy, podgy and fishy all at the same time. Eddi Reader is a real revelation here and I’m AMAZED she’s never really been in anything else (singing or not). Her beautiful voice lifting each song she’s a part of. Katy Murphy as Billie McPhail the taxi driver is okay but unfortunately she’s an actress that I’ve never really taken to; she always seems to play cross Scottish ‘feisty’ women, the type that I want to shut up. Her character is the only groaning point for me in Your Cheating Heart. Sinclair takes the part of the ‘ingénue’, and he’s very sweet (but similar to Murphy he basically plays the part he always plays). The series is chock full of practically every Scottish actor you can think of (including Peter Mullan with dark hair). This is a totally Scottish story, it embraces the whole culture of those late 80’s country and western/rockabilly fans in a sort of Dickensian-crossed-with-American Graffiti way.
The REAL star is John Byrne the writer of the series, and as with Tutti Frutti, Byrne has that rare ability to write women as they are. Byrne also manages to incorporate a real sense of ‘Scottishness’ in his stories too. He doesn’t anglicise the accents (yes I did put the subtitles on when one character ‘Toad’ was speaking), and I’m glad he didn’t. It’s a real slice of 1990 Scottish nostalgia. Byrne obviously loves his subject and writes a chatty script, with people popping up with dialogue (“nah, It’s avacada not olive”) that Quentin Tarrantino can only dream of.
The series does look like a video recording off the TV, however this only added to the whole experience for me. I can’t believe the BBC only aired it once. If it didn’t have a cult following before, it will now with Second Sight’s re-release on DVD. Well worth a re-visit if you’ve seen it before, and definitely a purchase if you like your TV slightly off kilter with a Patsy Cline obsession.