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Usually I find movies date really badly. For instance, John Carpenter's
Halloween from 1978 is my favorite horror movie and although I like it
a lot, I must admit it's dated badly over the years. No doubt due to
the literally graphic changes in horror movies. I was thinking the same
thing of Body Heat before I stepped into it. I was aware of such
blessings it had been given, but kept in mind it was a product of the
early 80's. Surely I thought this must be dated by today's standard of
erotic dramas & thrillers. This was not the case.
This movie has somehow managed to bypass the aging mechanism that movies succumb to. Twenty years after it's debut it still packs it's erotic punch and twisted bag of lies and William Hurt and Kathleen Turner are still the premiere duo of 'hot legs and ultra cool sleaze bags'. I won't bother giving even a morsel of the story to you - this is one you should walk into completely blind to better you viewing experience. If you need more, check out the plot summary or read the back of the movie box.
What I will talk about is the sex scenes. Erotica at it's cinematic best without being crude or pornographic. In today's age of softcore flicks on the video shelves and hardcore pornography conquering new territory every day it's a refreshing change of pace to look back to a movie made in the early 80's and witness such steaminess and tasteful erotica. Not to misdirect your thoughts. This movie isn't solely about sex, but it's a big part in a story of manipulation, money and deceit. The story, the direction and the cast are fit for a picture frame with Ted Danson and Mickey Rourke standing out amongst the supporting cast. A highly recommended view.
The coastal Florida town in Lawrence Kasdan's Body Heat brings to mind
remote colonial outposts in movies like The Letter (nearby Miami, here,
seems as far away as London). A sweltering spell of weather settles
down for a long roost, and the distant glow of an old hotel a relic
of the peninsula's past as an exotic getaway for northerners with money
lights the opening scene; it's been torched for the insurance, an
occurrence so common as to warrant little comment.
It's a town where William Hurt, a lawyer who's neither very bright nor very scrupulous, ekes out a modest existence that seems to suit him; he can dine at the best restaurant in town once a month so long as he doesn't order an appetizer. The rest of his time he spends lazily with bourbon or beer or in bed with whoever obliges him.
Then he meets up with Kathleen Turner, who hangs around cocktail lounges when her wheeler-dealer husband (Richard Crenna) is out of town, which is a lot. After the ritual game of cat-and-mouse, Turner and Hurt kindle a torrid romance, despite the enervating heat that keeps everything else limp as dishrags. Soon, the pillow talk works around to murder....
Of course, Body Heat is a latter-day version of the story for which Double Indemnity serves as archetype: Duplicitous woman seduces lust-addled stud into killing rich older husband, then leaves him to twist slowly, slowly in the wind. There's not even enough wind to stir the chimes that festoon the porch off Turner's bedroom -- can't the rich old cuckold spring for air conditioning? Hurt and Turner are reduced to emptying the refrigerator's ice tray into the post-coital bath they share -- but Hurt's left twisting nonetheless, in one of the better updates of this ageless tale.
In her movie debut, Turner makes her deepest impression with her best asset, that dimple-Haig voice of hers, all silk and smoke (but neither she nor Kasdan, who also wrote the script, quite justify her character's long and intricate back-story of ruthless scheming). With his long, lithe college-boy's build and wife-swapper's mustache left over from the '70s, Hurt embodies the self-satisfied patsy whose zipper leads him through life. Crenna (who played this Walter Neff role in the 1973 TV remake of Double Indemnity) now takes on the role of the disposable husband, the victim (or rather, the first victim).
But it's two smaller parts that give the movie a special shine. Mickey Rourke, as the local arsonist whom Hurt once helped out of a jam, ups the voltage in his two scenes, warning the heedless Hurt, then warning him again when it's all but too late. And, as Hurt's amiable adversary in the town's tiny legal circle, Ted Danson proves surprisingly spry and intuitive an actor (and he contributes a lovely little idyll, doing a soft-shoe routine under a street lamp on a pier). There's a twist or two too many in Body Heat -- it's a bit gimmicky -- but, after watching it, you feel as though you, too, should be stripping off your clothes, if only to wring them out.
A modern remake of the 1940s film, "Double Indemnity," this movie has a
solid, large fan base of its own. That's justifiable, too, because this
is well done.
It sports a 1940s-type film noir soundtrack but the rest is purely 1980s. By that, I mainly mean nudity and profanity, although the language isn't that offensive.
Kathleen Turner plays a femme fatale, similar to Barbara Stanwyck's role with Fred MacMurray in "Double Indemnity," except with a different ending. Actually, the entire story is quite different from the classic film noir. William Hurt has MacMurray's male lead role. I liked the classic actors better but Turner and Hurt shine with their performances, too.
This is steamy movie to say the least. Set on hot, humid Florida summer nights, you can almost feel the heat coming out from the TV screen and the heat from the two leads going at it several times. Turner is excellent as a woman who will go to great lengths for money, as they sometimes do. (Hey, my 87-year-old father is dating a 24-year bimbo in Florida, so I know of where I speak.)
The story is divided into three segments: (1) the setup; (2) the romance and plotting of the crime and (3) the crime and unraveling of Hurt as things begin to go very wrong.
An intriguing film, this loses nothing with multiple viewings. It's always interesting. The more I watched this, the more I found - as the case frequently is - myself fascinated with some of the lesser characters such as Hurt's two friends, played by Ted Danson and J.A. Preston. Danson, by the way, gives us a preview of the amoral character he played later in the hit TV series, "Cheers."
This is the kind of film you snuggle up with someone on a cold winter night. It will warm you up as much as your partner!
This movie was brilliant in almost every way possible. After seeing it
the fourth time, I finally bumped it from a nine to a ten. The
chemistry between Hurt and Turner was sensational. The story was very
clever. The twist was surprising.
If you want a suspense thriller where you think you know what is going on, but don't know as much as you thought, this is it.
I had seen it before a couple times, but I hadn't seen it in years. Rarely does a movie interest me as much the second or third time around, but this one did. I started thinking about how the writer was leading us along with little bits of information and how the characters were seeing the same. I know Kasden got the the idea from Double Indemnity, but he did a great job with it. The writing was excellent and I don't compliment the writing very often.
The pacing was precisely what you would expect from a 1940's style movie as this was. The dim lighting, the lack of cool air in the summer, the sound track - especially the sax - all just right.
I can't imagine anyone not liking this movie unless it was just too hot!
I remember watching the John Garfield and Lana Turner film noir classic `The
Postman Always Rings Twice' with my mother when I was little. After the
couple murdered Turner's husband, mom turned to me and said, `Watch. The
two killers will be punished in the end.' `Why?' I asked. `It's the movie
code,' she explained: Evil-doers must be punished."
While I'm not a fan of the sex and language direction that films have taken since the movie code died, part of the fun in watching `Body Heat' is knowing that there is a chance that either or both William Hurt and Kathleen Turner will get by with killing Turner's husband, played by Richard Crenna.
`Body Heat' is almost as good as `Double Indemnity,' which is considered by many to be best of the man-teams-with-woman-to-kill-her-husband genre. In `Indemnity' part of the fun is watching the Fred MacMurray character trying to outsmart his friend and mentor, played by Edward G. Robinson. In "Heat" Hurt has two friends he must deceive, cop J.A. Preston and a pre-`Cheers' assistant prosecutor Ted Danson. Try to figure out at what point they know Hurt is guilty.
The performances in `Body Heat' are excellent. In addition to Hurt, Turner, Crenna, Danson and Preston, this was Mickey Roarke's break-through role. Lawrence Kasden, who doesn't waste a shot, expertly directs the film. A great musical score by John Barry of James Bond composing fame expertly aids the steamy mood.
Undoubtedly one of the great film noir thrillers in history. Derivative
but superbly stylised by director Kasdan and wonderfully realised by
Hurt and Turner.
Hurt is a very great actor. He had a string of well played roles in the '80s (Kiss of the Spider Woman, Children of a lesser god, Gorky Park) but his movie career lost momentum after that. Perhaps it's difficult for a cerebral actor like him to find challenging parts. Turner is super sexy, proving that a voluptuous figure or great facial features are not essentials to be a turn on. I hear that Body Heat was her first film. She plays her role with understated confidence.
The underrated theme music too is very good. Supporting cast is effective. Really no faults with this movie. Kasdan did an accomplished job. One can't help but be disappointed that he did not make many more good movies.
Some leading critics complain that the ending was over elaborate. I disagree. I think the ending touch works well with the atmosphere and momentum of the movie towards the end. This being a genre film noir movie, the plot is typical and familiar to almost anyone, but it still has great power and the movie irresistibly sucks the viewer in. You can't but help but admire the skills of the actors and Kasdan's sophisticated direction. The music is marvelously complimentary all the way through.
A lightning fast affair develops between the ultra-hot and erotic Kathleen Turner and small-time Florida attorney William Hurt in the middle of an unprecedented heatwave in "Body Heat", arguably the most under-rated and most under-appreciated movie of the 1980s. Turner is the wife of a ridiculously rich businessman (Richard Crenna) and soon an elaborate plan hatches to kill him so the duo can be together forever. Naturally there is a lot more to Turner than meets the eye (Boy that is an understatement!) and Hurt becomes trapped in a super-steamy, but also highly dangerous relationship. Will the heat be too much for him in the end and are Turner's motives as clear as they appear? "Body Heat" could best be described as "Double Indemnity" for the sexed-up 1980s crowd. The sex is excessive and intense. By the end of the picture you feel like you had known Turner and Hurt for years (even though both were relative newcomers). Writer/director Lawrence Kasdan hit a major grand-slam with his first film-making venture. He had done work writing for the "Star Wars" and "Indiana Jones" group of films, but this was the first project where he went exclusively out on his own. No one knew really what to make of the movie in 1981 and thus it did fair business at the box office and was indifferent with the critics (it failed any Oscar consideration). As the years pass it becomes monumentally important to modern film-making and a classic homage to film noir-styled over-excesses. Brilliantly made in every way, well-acted, superbly written and directed, "Body Heat" is one of those films that forces you to look, let your hair down and eventually loosen your collar. 4.5 out of 5 stars.
(Note: Over 500 of my movie reviews are now available in my book "Cut
to the Chaise Lounge or I Can't Believe I Swallowed the Remote!" Get it
This is a very cleverly contrived sexploitation thriller, penned and directed by the talented Lawrence Kasdan. It stars Academy-Award winner (Kiss of the Spider Woman, 1985) William Hurt with a mustache and a dangling cigarette as Ned Racine, a not overly bright Florida lawyer smitten by Matty Walker (Kathleen Turner in her steamy film debut) a rich housewife with a husband she hates, and a yearning to breathe free. Shades of James M. Cain's The Postman Always Rings Twice and Double Indemnity, both triangle murder tales made into film noirs.
Kasdan is cribbing, but I forgive him since in some ways his film is an improvement on both the novels and the films they inspired, plus his is a kind of satire on those films with numerous witticisms. I especially liked it when Matty describes her husband, Edmund, a hard-nosed and successful financier played repulsively by Richard Crenna: "I can't stand the thought of him. He's small and mean and weak." Ned gives this some serious thought and then kisses her on the head like she's a good little girl.
Not too much later, after the first mention of the murder, immediately in the very next scene, Kasdan does a little foreshadowing with lawyer Ned visiting the jail. The steel door clangs shut behind him, startling him and causing him to jump in fright. I also liked the fog on the night of the murder, and I especially liked it when Ned, after putting the body in the trunk, closes the lid to reveal Matty standing there directly in our line of sight, a kind of visual witticism. I also liked the scene in which the lawyers are sitting around the varnished wood with Matty and the woman she has shrewdly cheated, and the lead lawyer asks if anyone would like to smoke. Everybody (except Ted Danson) eagerly and immediately lights up. Ted says he'll just breathe the air. This is a little in-joke satire by Kasdan on the fact that Hollywood movies of the day were financially encouraged by the tobacco companies to show the players happily puffing away as often as possible.
William Hurt really is excellent, almost as good as he was in Kiss of the Spider Woman, and that was very good indeed. Turner is completely believable as a voracious and greedy femme fatale with a wondrous criminal mind. The dialogue is sharp and clever throughout; especially interesting are the dueling "pick-up" rejoinders by Ned and Matty when they first meet. Noteworthy is the performance of Ted Danson of TV's "Cheers" fame as a prosecutor in black-rimmed specs. He has some spiffy lines of his own and he does a great job, as does Mickey Rourke as Teddy Lewis, Ned's fire-bombing buddy.
The plot twists are in some sense anticipated, but the exact nature of their unfolding is fascinating to watch. Indeed, Kasdan's snappy direction of his diabolically wicked tale is practically seamless. This is not to say that it was perfect. I have to point out that the scene in which Matty is in the tub with Ned and he dumps more ice cubes in to cool her off is a little on the contrived side since they surely had air conditioning. She claims to a natural body temperature of 100, reminding me of the classic rock lyric, "I'm hot-blooded, check it and see/I've got a temperature of a hundred and three." Also Matty's seduction of Ned was a little too fortuitous. I don't think she would have left so much to chance. But I liked the beginning anyway because it led us to believe that this would be a tale of sexual obsession (which in part it is) and not just an adulterous murder thriller. I also could not, even though I rewound the video, catch what was said in the final scene. (Probably that's just my ears going the way of the waist line.)
Be advised that the sex is indeed steamy. If explicit sex offends you, you will be offended. Of course I was not. Indeed I found it somewhat refreshing to see a movie in which there is only sexual appetite without any pretense of love or redemption, just lust and its accompanying disillusionment.
This is film noir for 1981 just before the rise of AIDS and the sexual self-censorship that Hollywood embraced (as it switched to more explicit violence). See it with your mistress.
I bought the DVD because it was cheap and because Kathleen Turner was in it. Since it's not a very famous film I was surprised how good it was. The camera-work was great. Check out an early scene in the film when the camera starts behind the bar and slides around to follow William Hurt outside where he lights up and strikes a perfect pose leaning against the doorway like Bogart or someone from one of those forties films. Wonder how many takes that took. Hurt puts in a great performance. The fact that his character is called Ned Racine gives him a head start but it's a very challenging role to portray a guy who is at the same time dynamic, lazy, naive, charming and likable. All the performances are top drawer. Kathleen Turner does a great job as the femme fatale. Mickey Rourke is in just two scenes but grabs your attention in both. Ted Danson and JA Preston are good as Ned's friends. Richard Crenna plays the kind of assertive character he played in Rambo,which fits in here as he delivers a pivotal line which sums up the story.('You've got to know the bottom line')
I stumbled across 'Body Heat' recently during a late night channel
surf, and I would have to say that I was also pleasantly surprised at
the high quality of this movie.
Though the acting and direction are top notch, I felt the music really pushed the movie over the top. The hauntingly melancholic string work serves not only as ambiance, but also acts as narrative. The sweet yet cautionary score mirrors the plot theme of 'moth to the flame'- obvious danger yet unavoidably seductive beauty. To this day, it sends chills down my spine!
p.s. Ted Danson's 'happy go lucky, dancing fool' role is sublime. Reminds me of his 'Creepshow' role around this same time period, which is also great.
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