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Tagline: It's a hot summer. Ned Racine is waiting for something special to happen. And when it does... He won't be ready for the consequences.

Pizza: Prime Italian



Winter of 1981 in Southern Florida. BODY HEAT was shooting at the bandshell off Hollywood Beach on a night in one of the coldest winters in that area's history. But in the movie, it was meant to be the hottest, so - "No jackets!" "Oh, and fan yourselves with these programs!" Now before you gasp in amazement at my knowledge of this inside information, let me set the record straight. I knew this not because of my tragically infrequent association with showbiz, I knew this because of Lorraine. My mom. Mom loved movies, and when she read about one filming nearby, she and her friend went down so they could (maybe) be in the movie. They did this with CADDYSHACK too, and although they didn't make it in the movie, I do have a picture of her with Ted Knight. See?

Ted-Lorraine :)

So mom and her friend were in the audience at the bandshell, but you never see them because their backs are to us. But how many of you can say your mother was in writer/director Lawrence Kasdan's steamy and mischievous thriller? Unless your son is William Hurt or Ted Danson or Mickey Rourke or Richard Crenna, or your daughter is Kathleen Turner, then I don't think too many of you can.


judge admonishing

Ned Racine (William Hurt) is an ambulance-chasing lawyer (even a judge admonishes him - "The next time you come into my courtroom, I hope you have either a better defense or a better class of client.") in a town in Southern Florida where inexplicably, air conditioners are a rarity. From courtrooms to coffee shops and even mansions, fans are blowing and pores are leaking. It's an impossibility, since BODY HEAT is not a period piece, but we are aware we're being "force-noired" by the filmmaker; so sure, let's just buy the whole box. With its amber-lit sets, BODY HEAT does more than make us hot - it makes us thirsty. The movie opens with a sweaty Ned watching a fire burning across town. Behind him, a Sysiphean fan spins as a girl dresses - "My god it's hot. Stepped out of the shower and just started sweating again." But is Ned looking out the window at the fire, or is he really looking for something missing in his life? Ned's legal cases are thin at best, surely leaving him unfulfilled. And his way with the ladies seems routine for him. What he needs is a dame who is a sucker for some good sexual innuendo/hard-boiled patter. One that can return the serve. One like...

Matty Walker (Kathleen Turner), whose temperature "runs a couple of degrees high, around 100," is a dish who can dish the dialogue back to Ned just as well, if not better. In fact, when in flirt mode, their subtextual tennis match banter falls just short of comedy. But there's nothing funny about the problem these overheated lovers are facing. Matty is married to Edmund (Richard Crenna), a shady businessman, and we've all seen enough movies or TV episodes of 48 HOURS to know that it won't be long until a plan is hatched where someone will be double-crossed, and perhaps there'll be a character who sleeps the big sleep. Let's face it - bad things always happen after something ravels.

Ted Danson plays Ned's friend Peter Lowenstein, a lawyer who likes performing smooth dance moves (Ted dancin'?) while walking and doesn't like lemons in his iced tea. Cop Oscar (J.A. Preston, who has played more cops than there are in the real world) is another friend. "When it gets hot, people try to kill each other," says Oscar. Together, they are the three musketeers. For now, anyway. Things will change.

BodyHeat House
Look carefully. Even Matty's house will double cross you.
We're sure Matty is setting him up, so we're a little ahead of Ned, a man who should know better but doesn't (this is the guy who extracts a pack of cigarettes from his jogging shorts after going for a run). Any hot-blooded male can forgive him for his bedding ventures. No, it's his morals that need work; it doesn't bother him a stitch that Matty is married. But there are moments we see that way underneath his surface, he feels some guilt. It's in the way he jumps when a jail cell door is slammed down the hall, or how he looks at a circus clown that seems to be mocking him, silently telling him he's being a fool. But it's tough to think clearly when a vixen is leading you around. Even Ned's pal Peter tells him this - "Someday your dick is going to lead you into a very big hassle." Ned goes to a boarded-up ex-hotel on the beach, the scene of a crime he hasn't committed yet. As he makes his way inside, he sees lizards and rats - slimy things - crawling around, and I suppose now that Ned is planning a murder, he's right at home with these species.

But Ned and Matty stick to the plan. Even with their full frontal nude scenes, they've managed to keep their asses covered, to the point where Matty changes her cigarette brand in case Edmund finds one of Ned's in the ashtray. But again, it doesn't matter, because the ravel will soon begin to un. And it's amazing (and fun) just how fast things fall apart. It's that damned single thread in a sweater that someone should have darned instead of damned. The first shot of the sequence on the day of the murder is of a spider web that might as well spell out "when first we practice to deceive." Yet with all this planning, neither of them knew that Edmund Walker owned a handgun. And that's all you're going to get from me, plot-wise.

Mickey Rourke
I will say this, though. Mid-movie, out of nowhere, comes Young Mickey Rourke. It's so funny, because this is the Mickey Rourke we all knew back then - a lean rebel who mumbles. An outsider. A cool guy. Today, he's unrecognizable from who he was then. It's like two different people. We're used to Older Mickey Rourke now, so when Young Mickey Rourke crops up again, it's now Young Mickey Rourke who is unrecognizable. Young Mickey Rourke plays one of Ned's less than savory clients, Teddy, who still owes Ned a favor for getting him out of the slammer. That favor will assist Ned and Matty in their plan to off Edmund. Still, Teddy shoots Ned's words right back at him - "Any time you try a decent crime, you got fifty ways you're gonna fuck up. If you think of twenty-five of them, then you're a genius... and you ain't no genius." Sure seems like everyone Ned talks to tells him not to go through with this. But does he listen?

The spider web, the rat, and a sign on the dock that says "Do not cut bait" aren't the only hints and images boiling beneath the movie's blistery surface.
Love it or not, BODY HEAT (a better title than THERMOREGULATION, I suppose) is a smart movie, especially for a first feature. Kasdan, whose body of work in the two years before this was writing the scripts for RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK and THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK, fills every scene in BODY HEAT with a hidden importance. Is it casual dialogue or is there a reason Ned, in one of their early meetings, tells Matty that "sometimes the shit comes down so heavy I feel like I should wear a hat." Answer? There's a reason. Because in this movie, there's a reason for everything. And even if you don't look for it, or better yet, don't know what the reason is (Why did Kasdan choose to name three characters Ned, Edmund and Teddy?), you kind of know it's there. You know you're watching a smart movie disguised under gimmicky clothes and slathered in buckets of water used as spray-on prop sweat. And in case you were wondering about Ned's "hat line," later in the movie, after they conspire to kill Edmund, Matty buys Ned a hat. Fortunately it's a fedora, so this mystery movie can continue harkening back to its predecessors, with Hurt literally tipping his hat. Oh, and when Ned wants to see what he looks like in the hat, Matty rolls up the car window, as if she's raising the curtain on Act III. As the window rises, Matty disappears through the glass, replaced with Ned's reflection.

Not only was this Kasdan's first movie as director, it was theater actress Turner's first movie role. Needless to say, she made a splash big enough to get us all wet. She's terrific in this. Twenty years earlier, she would have been a Hitchcock femme fatale. She could have been Marnie. Hurt had already made ALTERED STATES and EYEWITNESS, two wonderful movies. All three of Hurt's movies were released within nine months. I loved him back then and I love him now, even though he's not getting the meaty roles he should be getting. For me, one of Hurt's strengths is his voice; the timbre, the diction, the delivery, the way it wavers and cracks and whispers. Hey all of you A-list directors! Take note!


The sex scenes at that time were considered bold and brave. But it was movies like Body Heat which begat the Oeuvre de Skinemax, with treasures like the BODY CHEMISTRY franchise and many movies starring Andrew Stevens. But then we became a less nude culture again. So in a way, BODY HEAT is once again risque. It's both oversexed and oversaxed (that's sax-man Ronnie Lang playing that haunting yet repetitive line in another fine John Barry score). The sex is hot, bolstered by the suggestive yet corny dialogue. Like when she "invites" him into her house; her chest heaves as she breathes heavily and places her hand on her dress, making the fabric taut and Ned's heat-seeking missile tauter. It's enough to make Ned throw a chair through the window. Hell, it's enough to make me throw a chair through a window. It's a movie moment which probably wouldn't happen in real life. He could have rung the doorbell and begged, plus, how the hell is she going to explain the broken bay window to Edmund? Rodan flew into it?


Whether you call it an homage, love letter or ripoff of film noir, specifically DOUBLE INDEMNITY, BODY HEAT enjoys serving it up both icy cool and flaming hot. Don't expect new ground broken, but do expect a really fun ride. I mean, Space Mountain is fun even if you've been on it a dozen times, right?


We watched the second episode from the series MODERN MARVELS, which originally aired in 1994. The subject: The Empire State Building. I was born in Brooklyn and grew up in the NYC suburbs. Then, I lived in NYC for 13 years. But I'd never been to the Empire State Building. I had to become a tourist to do that, which happened just three weeks ago. And it was spectacular. We paid extra to visit floor 102, up the spire. So cool. Anyway...

empire worker
Amazing footage of both the building and the times highlight this doc on New York's, and perhaps the world's, greatest skyscraper - a building with its own zip code. From shots of then NY Governor Al Smith singing, to dancing girls on a girder high above the streets (are they nuts?), this doc paints a great picture of the time. It was the dawn of skyscrapers (a term that was used for ships until then) and of progress. And the Depression. And how this building would create not only jobs, but a fever of hope for the city, for the world. This was to be a monument. In fact, its architect was asked - "How big can you build it so it won't fall down?"

They interviewed Jack, one of the first tenants, who showed us his office and...his sock (he wore Empire State Building socks). Also among those interviewed was Joe Carbonelli, who at 16 worked on tearing down the old Waldorf Astoria, where the Empire State Building sits today. It's hard to believe that today's 34th and 5th was once a farm, and the site of numerous Revolutionary War battles.

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