CANNON MONTH 2: Patty Hearst (1988)

EDITOR’S NOTE: Patty Hearst was not produced by Cannon but was theatrically distributed by Cannon France.

Directed by Paul Schrader and written by Nicholas Kazan based on the book Every Secret Thing by Hearst with Alvin Moscow, this film tells how rich college student Hearst was kidnapped by the Symbionese Liberation Army, how she became an active SLA member and her arrest after a series of armed robberies.

The performance of Natasha Richardson and the way that Schrader frames Patty being locked in a closet for weeks with her emergence into being part of her SLA cells’ lives makes this movie more than a cash-in “torn from the headlines” exploitation movie. Plus, there’s Ving Rhames as SLA leader Cinque Mtume, William Forsythe as Teko, Francis Fisher as his wife Yolanda and Dana Delaney as Gelinda.

I’ve always wondered whether Hearst’s Stockholm Syndrome defense was true or if she wanted to escape the shadow of her rich family and live the life she’d only read about in college. Even with this movie and years of books and interviews, I don’t think we’ll ever know.

The film closes with this: “Patricia Hearst was granted a Presidential commutation of her sentence on February 1st, 1979 and now lives on the East Coast. She is married to Bernard Shaw, her former bodyguard. Efforts to overturn her conviction have been futile. Bill Harris (Teko) and Emily Harris (Yolanda) were found guilty of kidnapping, robbery and auto theft and served 8 years in prison. They are now separated. Bill works for a legal firm in Northern California. Emily lives in Los Angeles County. Wendy Yoshimura was convicted on unrelated weapons charges and served a short term in prison. She works at a restaurant in Northern California. None of the later SLA members were convicted of any crimes. Randolph and Katherine Hearst are divorced. He is now remarried. She lives in Southern California. Stephen Weed published a book, My Search for Patty Hearst. To this date, she is not spoken to him. F. Lee Bailey also wrote a book about the case, but to date it has not been published. District attorney Jim Browning is now a judge. The proprietor of Mel’s Sporting Goods sued Patricia Hearst and the Harrises claiming the shooting at his store rendered him incapable of performing his duties as a spouse.”

You can watch this on Tubi.

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