Bob Dylan: Hearts Of Fire – the review, and the complete movie.

by Larry Fyffe

“Hearts Of Fire” is a dark-humoured, sometimes slapstick, sometimes shocking, post-modernist movie. The film deals with the trials and tribulations of a young creative artist (Molly McGuire played by Fiona Flanagan) who is determined to follow her God-given talent in the face of the demands of business-oriented promoters who control the music industry.  If you want to watch the movie there is a link to it at the end of this article.

Their god is money, and they tend to play it safe by having singers and musicians perform ‘the usual’ stuff that audiences are familiar with. However, competition is the name of the game in the industry, and there are promoters who will take risks, and back innovative artists in whom they see potential.

James Colt (Rupert Everett), admired by Molly, is a ‘new wave’ star headed for the big time. Molly, somewhat naive, gets involved with him. Though British he be, Colt’s name reminds one of Jessie James and Cole Younger.

Bob Dylan plays a retired artist (Billy Parker), a singer and musician who’s been there and done that; he’s wise to the ins and outs of the music industry; he knows what the young gal singer is up against. Yet her spunk rekindles his own creative spark; he warns Molly that Colt is using her. Billy’s interest in her, however, is not all that ‘fatherly’. His name reminds one of Billy the Kid and Bonnie Parker.

Billy was of course young and innocent once himself, but his experiences with the music industry has made him really cynical. At first, the film appears to be a sentimental Romantic drama. Parker retires to the peace and quiet of the countryside.

And I picked up a couple more years on you babe, and that's all
But I've been down more roads than you, and that's all
Now, I' m tired of running where you're only learning to crawl
You're heading for somewhere, but I've been that somewhere
Found it was nowhere at all

(Bob Dylan: A Couple Of More Years)

As the film progresses, it explores  the heart of darkness, with black humour abounding, that ‘s more in tune with the Edgar Allan Poe-influenced  French Symbolist poets. The three stars of ‘Hearts of Fire’ get together in the rock n roll atmosphere of the city. It’s quite Hell-like, full of cynicism, pessimism, and degeneracy.

The critics of the movie do not realize that the joke is on them. For one thing after Billy states from the stage that the gal singer’s name is Molly Parker, she’s referred to as ‘Maggie’.

A poetic reference:

Maggie and Milly, and Molly and May
Went down to the beach (to play on day)
Maggie discovered a shell that sang
So sweetly she couldn't remember her troubles, and

(ee cummings: Maggie And Milly, And Molly and May)

An admirer of a preRomantic writer is the modernist romantic ee cummings.

One of the famous poems by the preRomantic:

Bring me my body of burning gold
Bring e my arrows of desire
Bring me my spear; O clouds unfold!
Bring  me my chariot of fire
(Willim Blake: Jerusalem; Proverbs of Heaven and Hell)

And another:

And what shoulder, and what art
Could twist the sinews of thy heart
And when thy heart began to beat
What dread hand and what dead feet?

(Willim Blake: Tyger, Tyger)

Put’em together, and what have you got:

Hearts Of Fire!

That movie can be interpreted as a mischievous spoof on the rather serious, and fact-based, movie “Chariots Of Fire”. That film is about two British runners, and their determination to win races fair and square.  This is Molly’s desire also – at the end of ‘Hearts of Fire’, Molly races alongside of Colt’s sports car using Billy Parker’s motorcycle. She rides off into the sunset by herself as befitting a white-hatted cowboy in an old Western movie.

And here is the movie…

Untold Dylan: who we are what we do

Untold Dylan is written by people who want to write for Untold Dylan.  It is simply a forum for those interested in the work of the most famous, influential and recognised popular musician and poet of our era, to read about, listen to and express their thoughts on, his lyrics and music.

We welcome articles, contributions and ideas from all our readers.  Sadly no one gets paid, but if you are published here, your work will be read by a fairly large number of people across the world, ranging from fans to academics who study English literature.  If you have an idea, or a finished piece send it as a word file to with a note saying that it is for publication.

We also have a very lively discussion group “Untold Dylan” on Facebook with approaching 5000 active members. Just type the phrase “Untold Dylan” in, on your Facebook page or follow this link 

You’ll find some notes about our latest posts arranged by themes and subjects on the home page of this site.  You can also see details of our main sections on this site at the top of this page under the picture.  Not every index is complete but I do my best.

But what is complete is our index to all the 604 Dylan compositions and co-compositions that we have found on the A to Z page.  I’m proud of that; no one else has that many songs with that much information.  Elsewhere the songs are indexed by theme and by the date of composition. See for example Bob Dylan year by year.

And please do note our friends at  The Bob Dylan Project, which lists every Dylan song in alphabetical order, and has links to licensed recordings and performances by Dylan and by other artists, plus links back to our reviews (which we do appreciate).

If in reading the site and listening to some of the music you get even one tenth as much pleasure as I get in publishing the material, you’ll be having a good time.

Tony Attwood,  Publisher / editor, Untold Dylan.











  1. God i had never seen the film before thank you as ‘usual’ people destroyed it i ll watch it but for the first minutes it’ interesting and a testimony to the awful eighties with second degree humour Thanks again jmarc

  2. Jeremy I don’t know anything about the process of making and producing the movie, but I can tell you, as a very, very minor artist, judging one’s own work is incredibly hard. And who is seriously going to tell Bob “this is bad Bob you’ve got to pull it”?

  3. I thought it was a good film at the time. Hard to figure out but my theory is that it is a trilogy with Fiona playing pre 1966 dylan, Rupert playing post 1966 Dylan and Dylan playing 1980’s Dylan. Look at it like that and it makes a lot more sense. Could never figure out what the blind women was all about, guess only Richard Marquand could have told us that.

  4. I liked that Parker on retire (in great shape) has his own farm, and so many eggs in the fridge! Fiona Flanagan as Molly quite believably good naive as someone who starts with illusions. James Colt for me the least believable of the characters in the film. Unfortunately, due to language restrictions, I could not enjoy the Parker´s humor. Billy´s song dedicated to Molly I liked me the most. Thank you, Tony, for the article with poetry and a link of film.

  5. Bring back the fervid zeal
    The hearts of fire and steel
    (Henry Longfellow: The Bells of San Blas)

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