125 of 1001 Movies: Body Heat (1981)

So I wouldn’t have guessed that the same guy who directed The Big Chill also directed directed Body Heat. Actually, his debut directorial debut was Body Heat. He does well at capturing the vibe of film noir, but I also couldn’t shake the feeling this was a lot like a Lifetime movie either. It has an interesting plot line, but everything that happens feels a little predictable. What does it carry it is the fact that it does have good actors who seem to have real chemistry with each other.

Ned is a lawyer in a small town that seems to lack air conditioning during the brutal summer. Out one night, and trying to be the heat, he finds a woman on the pier who he instantly falls for. She resist him until finally they begin a romance. There is one problem though, and that is she is married. Matty and Ned make a plan to kill her husband believing it will leave them to be with each other, but the more Ned conspires with her the more it seems Matty has other motives instead.

This movie is appropriately named, Body Heat. There are lots of sex scenes, and considering the lack of air condition it definitely made for lots of body heat. It doesn’t take long to figure out the characters though. I’m not even sure how Ned became a lawyer, because he doesn’t seem like anyone you would trust to get yourself out of a jam if you needed one. He can’t even get himself out of a problem.

William Hurt stars as Ned, and Hurt is a good actor. Ryan Gosling seems to have stolen some sort of vibe about him, because while watching this I kept comparing their acting. They seem to both incorporate the same sort of mellowness into their characters. Ned doesn’t have much to him though. He is a guy who likes sex, and eventually falls for one of the many women he enjoys sex with, that being the married one, Matty. Katheleen Turner is an actress I’ve never seen in a movie, so for this being the first movie I thought she was good. Her and Hurt sort of made a compatible duo. They both have these very strong, deep voices, so it helps Turner capture the vixen side of Matty.

I couldn’t shake the Lifetime movie feeling that kept coming back throughout. I think this movie might even be the template for all movies featured on the channel. The solid acting is what keeps it from completely getting dumped in that boat, and the fact that the director does seem to capture the vibe of a film noir movie. He incorporates the setting of the office, and nighttime to recreate those settings often featured in those movies to give it that vibe.

The more Body Heat gets into the story the more it gets better, and you’re only watching in the first place because you’re curious about how wrong this can go. Hurt and Turner do a good job with their roles, and have chemistry in the first place, so it feels quite real. You also have these odd little appearances like from Ted Danson as Ned’s lawyer friend, or Mickey Rourke, who I couldn’t recognize in the movie because he looked different then.

Rating 7 of 10.

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