Monday, January 10, 2011

Body Heat

I guess it was unintentional that I should watch a steamy mystery that takes place during a Florida heat wave, on one of our cold and snowy weekends here in Philadelphia!  I watched Body Heat (1981) starring Kathleen Turner (b. 1954) and William Hurt (b. 1950).

This was Turner's first movie, and I must say it was also her breakout.  She was beautiful and totally convincing in her role.  The story has twists worthy of Hitchcock, although the filming wasn't as precise as Hitch would have demanded.  It was Hurt's third film, and he was also perfect in his part as the ill-fated lawyer.

There is some great trivia attached to Body Heat.  It was a remake of Double Indemnity (1944) starring Barbara Stanwyck (1907 - 1990) and Fred MacMurray (1908 - 1991).  That movie was directed by Billy Wilder (1906 - 2002) who is an A-List director without a doubt, and the two stars were both A-List as well.

Body Heat on the other hand, starred two newcomers to film, and was directed by Lawrence Kasdan (b. 1949) in his directorial premier.  But Kasdan has a load of experience.

As a writer, Kasdan's credits are excellent.  He started out working on Star Wars: Episode V - The Empire Strikes Back (1980) and then Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981), before writing Body Heat.  He went on to write Star Wars: Episode VI - Return of the Jedi and The Big Chill in 1983, Silverado (1985), The Accidental Tourist (1988), The Bodyguard (1992) and Wyatt Earp (1994).  That's pretty good.

Kasdan's friendship with George Lucas probably got him the job as director.  Lucas is uncredited on Body Heat as an executive producer.  After Heat, Kasdan directed more great films, including several mentioned above in his writing credits. 

There were Bit Actors also present.  Kim Zimmer (b. 1955) was Kathleen Turner's best friend...whom she killed.  Zimmer is only in two big screen movies, and spends her time making TV soaps.  Ted Danson (b. 1947) plays another lawyer and is William Hurt's friend.  I don't think his soft shoe dancing at every free moment added anything to the plot.  This was Danson's second movie.

There are some more experienced actors as well.  J. A. Preston was the police detective.  Preston has 78 titles on his IMDb list.  And of course, Richard Crenna (1926 - 2003) who was Turner's doomed husband, has 114 titles, my favorite was as Luke on "The Real McCoys" on TV in the 1950s.

My question is how can so many inexperienced people make such a good movie?  See it, or see it again, and I am sure you'll agree.


  1. I always hoped that a sequel to BODY HEAT would be made. And I'm no fan of sequels! I imagined that in the sequel Hurt would be able to convince J.A. Preston and Danson that Turner was alive with the yearbook evidence and, while Danson worked to come up with a way to get Hurt off death row, Preston would track Turner to the ends of the earth...tho I think Denzel would have had to take over J.A. Preston's role - a much bigger part in the sequel...(or so went my sequel fantasy)

    Mickey Rourke also had a juicy bit part in BODY HEAT, one of his early appearances on the big screen.

  2. BODY HEAT is one of my favorite 1980s movies. From the opening scene and the strains of John Barry's brilliant score, I knew I would like it. You know, in some movies characters talk about the heat so audiences know it's supposed in hot. In BODY HEAT, the characters' sweat seems to figuratively drip from the screen. In addition to the performers you mentioned, there was also Mickey Rourke in an early role.

    1. I agree with Rick - the heat is a central cast member, and the more you watch the movie, the more you pick up cues - like the sizzle of frying sounds in Stella's. It's subtle but effective. And funny, each time I watch the final scene, with Turner in the chair, I expect to hear Ned Racine's voice come from over her shoulder.

  3. Thanks for the comment, Rick. It is funny that a movie this good is more or less forgotten after a few years. I was wondering why Turner's mansion wasn't air conditioned!

  4. Hi Eve. I agree that there could have easily been a sequel where the Black Widow get's her due. Hurt would still be in jail because he did the deed, but it may make him feel better.

    I hate to admit that I ignored Mickey Rourke because I am not very familiar with his work. I guess I have another project to work on!


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