Chilly Scenes of Winter (1979)


Chilly Scenes of Winter (1979)
Head Over Heels (original title)

Charles is a Salt Lake City civil servant who loves (*LOVES*) Laura, a lovely housewife with a lovely step-daughter and an A-frame-selling, ex-quarterback husband named Ox. His roommate is "an unemployed jacket salesman," his mother is a spacey, laxative overdosing, overly eccentric basket-case, his perpetually happy sister finds love in the dorkiest of guys, his step-father has a jones for Turtle Wax and his boss asks him for advice about his Ivy League son's sexual problems. He listens to Janis Joplin and dreams of getting Laura back once and for all. He does everything in his power to win her back from Ox, and the lengths he goes to provide the structure of the film in this bittersweet romantic comedy...a film that explores what happened to the Woodstock generation when they transcended their idealism (i.e. it was expected that they fall in love and face the music of routine). Charles is perhaps the quintessential saint of this ideology.
IMDb  7.0 /10
Director Joan Micklin Silver
Writer Ann Beattie
Writer Joan Micklin Silver
Release Date1982-07-15
Runtime1h 32mins
GenreComedy, Drama, Romance
Content RatingPG (PG)
CompanyTriple Play Productions
Nora Heflin
Nora Heflin
Mr. Patterson
Tarah Nutter
Tarah Nutter
Mrs. Delillo
Alex Johnson
Alex Johnson
Beverly Rowland
Beverly Rowland
Woman in Park (as Beverly Booth Rowland)
Man in Store

Chilly Scenes of Winter (film)

Chilly Scenes of Winter (originally released as Head over Heels) is a 1979 romantic comedy film, written and directed by Joan Micklin Silver.

The film is an adaptation of the 1976 novel Chilly Scenes of Winter by Ann Beattie.

Name change

The first version of the film, with the title Head over Heels, had a happy ending. In 1982, the distributor re-released it with a new melancholy ending (just with the original last scene omitted), and the title was changed to match the book. The film had a more successful run this time.


Charles Richardson is a civil servant in his early 30s, working in the Department of Development in Salt Lake City, Utah, and he is an impetuous romantic. One day, he meets Laura Conley in the filing department of his office, and it is love at first sight.

Laura is a married woman who has just moved out on her husband Jim, a log-home salesman. She is disillusioned by her own marriage and wants to find herself. Charles gathers his courage and asks her out. Soon, she moves in with him and seems happy, but starts having second thoughts. According to Laura, he loves her too much. "You have this exalted view of me, and I hate it. If you think I'm that great, then there must be something wrong with you."

Laura leaves Charles and goes back to her husband Jim. Sam, recently unemployed as a jacket salesman, moves in with Charles, who tries to grapple with the loss of Laura. Charles's mother, meanwhile, is an eccentric who has suicidal thoughts.

Charles begins to make efforts to win Laura back. Charles finds out from his secretary Betty that Laura has left Jim once again and is living in an apartment with a roommate. Charles confronts Laura, finally asking her to decide if they will have a future together.


  • John Heard as Charles
  • Mary Beth Hurt as Laura
  • Peter Riegert as Sam
  • Kenneth McMillan as Pete
  • Gloria Grahame as Clara
  • Nora Heflin as Betty
  • Jerry Hardin as Patterson
  • Tarah Nutter as Susan
  • Mark Metcalf as Jim


Parts of the film were shot in Salt Lake City, Utah.


Reviewing the original version, Vincent Canby of The New York Times describes the film as "seeming to be on the verge of some revelation of profound feeling that, at long last, never comes." He does give high praise to the acting, writing "there's not a false performance in the film." Leonard Maltin referred to the film as divisive—"it will either charm or annoy" the viewer. He awards it two and a half stars, presumably the original version.