Heart like a Wheel

  • Tony Williams


approximately seventy minutes into the running of Jonathan Kaplan’s Heart Like a Wheel (1983)—the story of female drag racer Shirley Muldowney—there comes a point at which the style and imagery radically differ from the preceding and succeeding narrative sequences. While the film in general appears to reinvent the racing movie genre in favor of a female heroine, this brief three-minute sequence depicts an entirely different set of values. Rather than appearing human, the figure of Bonnie Bedelias Shirley Muldowney now appears like something resembling a mechanized image in a science fiction movie. She seems almost robotic. Dialogue becomes suspended. An eerie moog synthesizer dominates the soundtrack, contrasting with the basic aural representation employed in this film, and Shirley’s body becomes suddenly objectified. Her living personality is reduced the level of the mechanized objects in the world of drag racing.


Freeze Frame Movie Genre Sacrificial Victim Science Fiction Movie Female Heroine 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. 2.
    Robin Wood, Howard Hawks (London: BFI, 1968), 148–149.Google Scholar
  2. 3.
    Steve Jenkins, “Heart Like a Wheel” Monthly Film Bulletin, 51:603, 1984, 106.Google Scholar
  3. 4.
    Daniel Lopez, Films by Genre (Jefferson, NC: McFarland & Co., 1993), 185.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Mikita Brottman 2001

Authors and Affiliations

  • Tony Williams

There are no affiliations available

Personalised recommendations