Dedications: My four late friends Rory, Stan, Bryan, Jeff - shine on you crazy diamonds, they would have blogged too. Then theres Garry from Brisbane, Franco in Milan, Mike now in S.F. / my '60s-'80s gang: Ned & Joseph in Ireland; in England: Frank, Des, Guy, Clive, Joe & Joe, Ian, Ivan, Nick, David, Les, Stewart, the 3 Michaels / Catriona, Sally, Monica, Jean, Ella, Anne, Candie / and now: Daryl in N.Y., Jerry, John, Colin, Martin and Donal.

Thursday, 16 August 2012

Summer re-runs: let me feel your Body Heat

BODY HEAT - Ned Racine is a seedy small town lawyer in Florida. During a searing heatwave he's picked up by married Matty Walker. A passionate affair commences but it isn't long before they realise the only thing standing in their way is Matty's rich husband Edmund. A plot hatches to kill him but will they pull it off?

After his screenplays for THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK and RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK, Lawrence Kasdan got to direct his first feature in 1981 - this torrid update on those '40s noirs.. BODY HEAT is a neo-noir full of the pleasures of hard-boiled dialogue, plot twists and old movies - DOUBLE INDEMNITY in particular. Kathleen Turner makes her film debut as the femme fatale who seduces sleazy lawyer William Hurt into murdering her husband ... and what a debut it is. The breeze riffling that white dress as she casually sways by as the mesmerised Hurt follows her to the beach. He says something, she replies "I'm a married woman" so he says "meaning what?" and she replies "Meaning I am not looking for company" .. but of course she is and how. Then there is that scene when she retreats indoors while he is outside as he gets the chair and breaks in, as she is egging him on.  Soon of course he is putty in her hands.   It is rather an appropriate movie to follow on from MISSISSIPPI MERMAID - see below.
BODY HEAT remains an '80s classic. Whats wonderful here is the colour and that great score by John Barry, and those throwaway lines like "Youre not very smart are you? I like that in a man....". There's reams of smart dialogue one could quote. In fact I want to run it again in case I missed any. Turner is astonishingly assured in her first role - she brings that other Turner to mind - Lana in THE POSTMAN ALWAYS RINGS TWICE. Hurt was one of the 80s great actors (KISS OF THE SPIDER WOMAN etc) but his career seems to have faltered after that. Kasdan went on to that other essential 80s item: THE BIG CHILL and others. I find a lot of 80s stuff has dated badly, but BODY HEAT is an exception. Mickey Rourke and Ted Danson and Richard Crenna are excellent support.

This sultry, sweaty update on DOUBLE INDEMNITY succeeds on every level - you can almost feel the heat coming off the screen.  Its another duplicitous woman seducing a lust-addled stud into killing her rich older husband ("He's out of town a lot" - "thats my favourite kind") then leaves him to slowly unravel .... It is fascinating to watch the plot twists unfold and the ending is just perfect, as our hero in jail gets the evidence which shows who Matty really is ... but one cannot comment too much on that, we don't want to spoil it if you have not seen it. The final scene on some foreign beach is a zinger too.  Turner also has that great voice - didn't she voice Jessica Rabbit?  I will be watching BODY HEAT again and soon. It will be even more enjoyable next time round.

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