Aside from the over abundance of rather large glasses and sweaty actors, “Body Heat” succeeds fabulously, not only as an excellent example of a classic film noir but as a solidly executed production in its own right. This 1981 thriller is set in steamy south Florida and features adept acting by William Hurt as inept small-town lawyer, Ned Racine and Kathleen Turner (in her first film) as his very hot but very married lover, Matty Walker. Early in the film, proverbial horn-dog Ned catches sight of Matty and pretty much all hell breaks loose.
Both are greedy and neither is willing to leave well enough alone when there is money at stake, which, it turns out, it most certainly is. Matty’s husband is quite wealthy but forced her to sign a prenuptial agreement in which she gets little in the event of a divorce and only half if the poor bastard were to somehow die. Say, in an unfortunate accident… Grifters will be grifters but there is actually a lot more to this film than apparent at first glance.
“Body Heat” stays quite true to the genre, which provides moments early on where I found it walking fairly familiar ground in theme, style and character development. Frankly, anyone who has spent time with film noir will quickly find comfort in writer/director Lawrence Kasdan’s masterful craftsmanship of unlikable characters you can’t seem to help but like treading in murky waters they have themselves created. We are not talking about high-quality citizens here (for the most part) and Kasdan’s exploration of the worst aspects of human nature works well to provide suspense and intrigue throughout even if part of you wants them all to jump off a cliff.
Did I mention “hot”? Kasdan definitely doesn’t shy away when scenes get steamy which is one notable departure from classic film noir from the 40s and 50s. Fortunately, “Body Heat” was developed in the early 80s and was not subject to earlier decades’ lame Blue Laws. “Body Heat” is an exciting ride that deserves a spot in the catalog of film worthy of a second look and excels in providing a tantalizing, well-scripted and filmed escape from much of the currently available stock.
DVD Details ^ The 2-sided disc provides both wide (anamorphic 1.85:1 aspect ratio) and full screen versions from which to choose and provides English and French soundtracks in Dolby Digital 5.1 and 2.0 respectively. Unfortunately, the DVD is fairly bare-boned in the extras department with only written production notes and the original theatrical trailer included.