Sunday, May 12, 2019

Body Heat

The last time DirecTV had a free preview of some of the premium movie channels, I took the chance to record Body Heat.

William Hurt plays Ned Racine, a mediocre lawyer in a sweltering small town on Florida's east coast. When he's not helping little old ladies or small-time crooks with their legal issues, he spends his time in bed with whatever good-looking woman is available, and drinking copious amounts of liquor. It's not as if there's much else to do.

One day, he meets Matty Walker (Kathleen Turner). She's married to wealthy real-estate magnate Edmund Walker (Richard Crenna), who is away on whatever sort of business he does, which is probably mildly shady. Anyhow, hubby's being away all the time during the week allows Matty the time to go to various places and meet people like Ned, who quickly falls for the beautiful Matty and comes up with some scheme to get back to her house in a swanky nearby town.

The two have sex a couple of times, and Matty finds herself falling for Ned, which is a problem in that she's already married. She can't get a divorce (well, she could) because she wasn't wealthy before marrying Edmund and he made her sign a pre-nuptual agreement, a very sensible think for him to do. The two had obviously seen Double Indemnity, since they come up with the brilliant idea of killing Edmund and making it look like a botched arson. That, and come up with a very slight change to their wills that will have a slight legal problem that winds up giving everything to Matty. Ned's former client Teddy (Mickey Rourke) hears about the arson part, being an expert in incendiary devices, and advises Ned that this is a terrible idea.

Ned's not thinking with the head at the top of his body, so he doesn't heed Teddy's advice, instead going ahead with the murder, which doesn't quite go off as planned. And then after they actually kill him and move the body to where the botched arson is supposed to happen, they make another mistake that the investigators -- police detective Oscar (J.A. Preston) and prosecutor Peter (Ted Danson with a ridiculous set of glasses) discover. Meanwhile, Ned is looking for the mysterious Mary Ann (Kim Zimmer), who witnessed the changes to Edmund's will and who could provide a crucial alibi for the two....

For the most part, I greatly enjoyed Body Heat, although I did have a few problems with it. The atmosphere is quite good, as are the performances. (I was particularly impressed with Danson, who was a good fit for Cheers but whom I wouldn't have thought of as good casting here.) One problem I had was that the movie seemed at times as though it was a bit sterile and too much a simulacrum of the 1940s noir style, trying to be stylish for its own sake. The plot also winds up being a bit too twisty and turny.

Overall, however, anybody who's interested in a more grown-up take on the noir than we could get during the Production Code era should enjoy Body Heat. It is available on DVD if you want to pick it up and watch whenever you want.

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