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By most accounts, Clint Eastwood hijacked his long-awaited teaming with
fellow superstar Burt Reynolds and the credits bear this out. After showing
writer-director Blake Edwards the door, Eastwood recruited the more
malleable Richard Benjamin to direct (in his autobiography, Reynolds said
Benjamin was "terrified" of Eastwood), ordered Edwards' script be given a
rewrite by Joseph Stinson whose only other credit was the previous year's
Dirty Harry film, "Sudden Impact," brought in key players from his Malpaso
crew (notably Fritz Manes as producer and Lennie Niehaus as composer), and
even dumped Edwards' title, "Kansas City Jazz," in favor of the equally
imaginative (I'm kidding) "City Heat."
Despite Dirty Harry's takeover, "City Heat" emerges as a showcase for Reynolds. He has the most screen time and the zippiest dialogue, but playing against a typically wooden Eastwood also heightens the opportunity for Reynolds to reap laughs with his more extroverted approach. The contrast between the two is very entertaining.
Critics were quick to dismiss this Christmas 1984 release as a bomb which it certainly appeared to be beside the Eddie Murphy blockbuster, "Beverly Hills Cop," in release at the same time. It is disappointing (Edwards would likely have given it more class), but by no means a dud. It breezes along at a comfortable pace, mixes its laughs evenly with action, and should make for a satisfying indulgence for fans of the two stars.
In 1978, Eastwood and Reynolds appeared together on the cover of Time as the
reigning male superstars. If "City Heat" had been made that year, it would
have been a superblockbuster.
But by 1984, Reynolds' career was already declining (too many insipid "Cannonball Run" movies.) Eastwood -- who after "Dirty Harry" never worked with major co-stars -- may have finally said "yes" to co-starring with Reynolds because he was clearly the bigger star in 1984. But even Eastwood was starting to age.
All the problems others have related here are true, plus one more: Reynolds was hit in the face by a stunt man with a real chair while filming the opening diner fight scene. Reynolds' jaw was broken and he had a severe medical condition causing pain, headaches, and dizzyness. Reynolds was a trouper and finished the movie (he is quite funny in it), but one of the reasons the movie is so short and incoherent is that the injured Reynolds couldn't work very long in the film (notice: in the final fight, "Reynolds" is wearing a wolf mask -- because that's not Reynolds.)
"City Heat" opened at Xmas against "Beverly Hills Cop" and new star Eddie Murphy cleaned the clocks of old stars Eastwood and Reynolds . Reynolds would never be a top star again. Adding insult to injury, the ad tag line "The Heat is On!" first used by "City Heat" was shifted to "Beverly Hills Cop" when "City Heat" disappeared from theaters.
It's too bad, really. Once upon a time, Eastwood and Reynolds were both co-equal major superstars, and it would have been exciting to see them paired together. The opening diner scene and a few later exchanges give us a tantalizing glimpse of how good "City Heat" could have been had it not be jinxed from the start.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
City Heat casts two of Hollywood's biggest box office draws of the past
forty years in the same film as different types. The film is set in
Kansas City of 1933 which richly earned the reputation it had back in
the day of a wide open town. This was in fact the Kansas City of Tom
Pendergast. Clint Eastwood is a by the book and honest city detective,
not an easy thing to be in Kansas City of that era. Burt Reynolds is a
former cop who's now a roguish private eye. The two of them have a
history, they like each other well enough, but they also grate on each
As all good private eyes have, Burt has a cool and efficient Effie like secretary in Jane Alexander and a partner in Richard Roundtree. Burt's one of the few back in the day who would even consider going into business with a black person. But Roundtree's playing a lone hand involving a runaway bookkeeper and a war between two rival mobs headed by Rip Torn and Tony LoBianco. For his troubles Roundtree winds up dead and in the same tradition of Sam Spade, when your partner's killed you do something about it.
But it's also Eastwood's homicide case and like it or not the two are forced into an alliance of inconvenience, kicking and screaming right up to the end of the picture. The plot also calls for rescuing Alexander who Eastwood fancies, Madeline Kahn who's Burt's girlfriend and chanteuse Irene Cara.
City Heat is not at the top of the list of films by Eastwood and Reynolds. But they've got nothing to be ashamed of here. The film glides effortlessly from comedy to drama and both guys get their innings to show why they're the superstars they are. You could do a lot worse than City Heat for your viewing pleasure.
Like the old saying goes, bigger is not always better. Apparently
sticking two actors with the highest star power was not the best idea
for City Heat. It's not a bad idea, but it's not a great one. There are
SOME good moments in this movie but there is a lot missing. Because of
this the bad outweighs the good by far, which can make this a
frustrating film to watch.
We know this much; Mike Murphy (Burt Reynolds) and Lieutenant Speer (Clint Eastwood) are acquaintances on some level. In what way - we're never really told. That's already one step in the wrong direction. If you're making a buddy cop movie, you have to give some kind of background of the main characters. Otherwise, the viewer will have no clue why the two characters are at odds half the time.
Much of the time I was trying to figure out what Reynold's character was up to. Every time the screen shifted to Eastwood I finally caught up with what was happening. I'm not really sure how but that was one of the frustrating parts about this movie. It was like Reynold's was there only for fluff and laughs. I'll admit Reynold's did make me laugh at times but it was just for that specific moment. Clint Eastwood also has funny parts. Just like any Eastwood movie, he has his own way of doing things and he does that in this movie too. But these occurrences didn't really change my opinion of this movie; although I wish it had.
To make things even more awkward was that this film barely had a soundtrack. I mean even the silliest of soundtracks sound better than nothing. There were times where I was watching action sequences in this movie where I only heard a "biff" or "baff" and an occasional gunshot. Music can change the whole feeling of a certain scene and without it I felt like I was watching anything very exciting. I was bored with it. Even when it comes to the most stupid action scenes in a movie, there was at least music to back it up. There was almost nothing here. I felt that there was nothing to be excited about. I was just watching a film with no emotion. That is really nerve racking for me. I need to feel something while watching a movie. City Heat just never took off for me and it is truly unfortunate. I was expecting a lot more.
City Heat is just another buddy cop movie with no real life in its characters. The action scenes can be boring with no music in the background and its characters are short of laughs due to the sloppy screenplay.
I didn't find this movie all that bad. It is merely mediocre. Unfortunately there is nothing in this movie that we haven't seen dozens of times before. Burt is sophomoric and Clint is stereotypical Clint. Good TV movie but not really worth renting unless you have seen everything else.
This is one of the only times that Clint Eastwood & Burt Reynolds got
together. The casting is with great imagination. It was actually made
at a good time for both actors and the support cast is good. So what
went wrong? Blake Edwards script for this one is just not as funny as
other films he wrote. The situation seems contrived and this was a time
when Eastwood was doing actions films. The action is just missing here.
While Reynolds could do comedy, it seems that both actors didn't get to
do in this movie what sold tickets for their fans.
When the movie ends, it just kind of ends in a stand off and you get the feeling like you needed an ending that just isn't here. It is fun seeing these two actors together in this film, but the script is the missing element. Richard Benjamin, a funny man directed, and I am surprised he didn't do better with it as he knows what good comedy is.
While the movie is fun, it is not funny enough. Blake Edwards saved better material for his Pink Panther movies I guess.
"City Heat" is a movie that should have been something special. When made
back in 1984, it seemed like a great idea of having two of Hollywood's
biggest moneymaking actors back then (Clint Eastwood and Burt Reynolds)
starring together in an action/comedy that takes place during the 1930s. But
something went wrong early on during the production. Blake Edwards wrote the
script and was slated to direct. But Edwards walked off this movie to direct
Dudley Moore in "Micki + Maude", and former actor Richard Benjamin came on
to take over the directing duties. BIG MISTAKE!!! Even though Edwards still
got screenplay credit (under the pseudonym Sam O. Brown), changes were made
in the script, and "City Heat" ended up a mess. What a shame! I can still
remember Chicago film critics Gene Siskel and Roger Ebert blasting this
movie when it came out. Ebert gave it 1/2*, and Siskel gave it no stars. The
movie opened back in early December 1984, and two other big movies opened
that same week (Eddie Murphy's "Beverly Hills Cop" and the "2001" sequel
"2010"). Back then when Siskel and Ebert were doing their movie review show
"At the Movies" (this was before their show went nationwide as "Siskel &
Ebert"), they would have a skunk on the show to talk about the stinker of
the week honoring the worst movie that they reviewed that week. "City Heat"
won the honor over "Beverly Hills Cop" and "2010" as the stinker of the
week. That's major criticism considering the presence of two big superstars.
Now I didn't think "City Heat" was that bad, but it's bad. To me this was a
big disappointment. Eastwood plays a cop; Reynolds a private eye. Former
partners who now don't get along, they're forced to team up to erase crime
from the streets of 1930s Kansas City. Eastwood and Reynolds come off O.K.
as this odd couple of crimebusters, but they should have been better. At
least they come off better than they're supporting cast. The supporting
actors (from Jane Alexander to Madeline Kahn to Irene Cara to Rip Torn) are
all wasted, not making much of an impression. Another thing that bothered me
about "City Heat" is that it has a phony feeling throughout. It feels like
this movie was shot on a movie set instead of real outdoor scenery. That
makes the movie unrealistic. Plus, the fight scenes and all the glass
breakage is totally laughable. I laughed every time I heard glass breaking
during the fight scenes. "City Heat" is an asinine crime comedy that I think
would have worked if Edwards had directed it. Roger Ebert made a memorable
take on "City Heat" saying quote: "Clint Eastwood and Burt Reynolds are
stuck in one of the biggest bombs of the year, an incomprehensible mess
disguised as a period gangster picture". It's a mess alright. Though my
rating is a little higher than Ebert's because I felt that some of the
action scenes have punch. But that's not saying much. "City Heat" was so bad
to most people that this was the first and last time Eastwood and Reynolds
starred in a movie together. Blake Edwards had a good movie on his hands,
but Richard Benjamin came on to mess it up.
*1/2 (out of four)
From a Blake Edwards story, it's 1930s Kansas City. Burt Reynolds is
private investigator Mike Murphy who's partner is brutally murdered
when he tries to blackmail a mobster with his secret accounting
records. When a rival gang boss goes after the missing records, he is
forced to team up with his ex-partner cop Lieutenant Speer (Clint
Eastwood) to fight both gangs before KC erupts in a mob war.
This takes place when both Burt Reynold and Clint Eastwood was hitting a slow patch after being red hot. Clint would recover, but Burt never did.
With the people involved, you would think this could be something incredible. But there is nothing but disappointment. Burt is playing his usual self, smirking thru his fight. Clint has no chemistry with Burt. The style is too stiff and weak. It has none of the grittiness required. It looks completely fake.
Worst of all, it moves at a snails pace, dragging its feet. The dialog is stilted. There is no jokes, at least none that worked. In fact, none of it really worked.
It's 1933 and in Kansas City, we follow that of Detective Murphy, as
his partner has just been killed by some big-heads and he finds himself
caught up in the web he has left behind. While, this is going on
Lieutenant Speer also investigates, but when the two collide, there are
some fireworks, as they have a work history together. But they have to
put their differences aside, if they are going to get the job done.
Should I call this a disappointment, because the effortlessly shallow material just doesn't go hand-to-hand with the talent that was involved. This parody / drama on noir and tough-guy images is no more than a vehicle for the two stars, who just seem to be slumming it out here. It's not a bad film, because it's well made, but the story doesn't entirely hit any strides, it changes direction between spoof and drama with mixed results and it can be quite tedious in spots. All the accolades though, would have to go to the delightfully smooth Burt Reynolds in the role as the charismatic, smart-guy detective Murphy. His presence definitely overshadows Eastwood. But the colourful banter and always at odds attitude between the two, makes it a fun pairing up to watch, as they work off each rather nicely. Clint Eastwood, plays the straight-faced, no-bull Lieutenant Speer with his usual approach and sly humour. They both get some highly witty, top-notch lines. The supporting cast are satisfactory with the likes of Rip Torn, Jane Alexander, Irene Cara, Richard Roundtree and Robert Davi dusting in with a skew of personalities. While, they're worth better material, they all do the best with what they're given to work with. The feel of the 1930's has an artificial air about it here, as clearly you can't escape the back-lot sets. But still it's professionally catered for with a pleasant blues score and a dour colour scheme crafted in to get that glum, wet atmospheric night build-up of Kansas City. The direction of Richard Benjamin is quite standard, but it has some neat photography techniques of the period and a few flashy impulses, like one fine and exciting late-night shoot-out in a deserted street.
Nothing much out of the ordinary and very forgettable, but only the fans of two stars should really bother with this one.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I laughed the whole time.
My father STILL quotes this flick ad infinitum. Mostly the 'You'll always be shorty to me' line.
This was like one of the Airplane films played more seriously. The action scenes were done well too. It was difficult seeing classic cars get ruined though.
Clint and Burt made a good team. Rip Torn and Madeline Kahn (RIP) in great support. And watch for William Sanderson in a small role.
But the lines made this film. And for once Burt's hammy acting and Clint's mumbling worked in its favor.
Best line? Clint talks to a guy in a car. 'You shouldn't lay in the street. You might get hit by a train.' 'What train?' 'The next one I hear coming.'
And, 'I don't like you're ilk. You know what that is?' 'Yeah, it's a deer.' 'Well if you don't leave, I'm gonna shoot me an ilk.'
Groaners all. But I loved it.
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