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Lawrence Kasdan
William Hurt, Kathleen Turner, Richard Crenna, Ted Danson, J.A. Preston, Mickey Rourke, Kim Zimmer, Jane Hallaren, Lanna Saunders, Carola McGuinness
Writing Credits:
Lawrence Kasdan

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.

During one hot and sultry Florida summer, a shady lawyer launches into a torrid relationship with a lonely woman married to a rich businessman. As their relationship grows, she decides to enlist his help in killing her husband so that the two can live comfortably off his riches. After they've successfully completed the deed, the lovers' relationship sours, and they both become principal suspects in the police investigation.

Box Office:
Opening Weekend
$564.593 thousand on 34 screens.

Rated R

Widescreen 1.85:1/16x9
English Dolby Digital 5.1
French Monaural

Runtime: 113 min.
Price: $19.98
Release Date: 10/24/2006

• Lifted Scenes
• “Body Heat: The Plan” Featurette
• “The Production” Featurette
• “The Post-Production” Featurette
• Vintage Interviews with William Hurt and Kathleen Turner
• Trailer


Sony 36" WEGA KV-36FS12 Monitor; Sony DA333ES Processor/Receiver; Panasonic CV-50 DVD Player using component outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Sony SA-WM40 Subwoofer.


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Body Heat: Deluxe Edition (1981)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (October 12, 2006)

Previously best known as a screenwriter on The Empire Strikes Back and Raiders of the Lost Ark, Lawrence Kasdan came into his own as a director with 1981’s hit Body Heat. The “neo-noir” flick introduces us to Ned Racine (William Hurt), a small-town Florida attorney who usually handles sleazy clients. When he wanders into a free concert near the beach, he notices sexy Matty Walker (Kathleen Turner) as she goes for a smoke. Though married, she flirts with him before she disappears.

Ned continues to bed plenty of one-night stands, but he fantasizes about Matty. Eventually he tracks her down and finally beds her. A torrid on-going affair ensues. Matty complains about her loveless marriage, a fact that entices them to think of actions that they could take to get rid of her rich husband Edmund (Richard Crenna). The rest of the film follows their relationship, their plot, and all the complications that come along the way.

Attempts to update a dormant genre can become very dicey. They need to reflect earlier efforts but not simply replicate them, as they must bring something new to the table. Kasdan briefly specialized in genre revivification, though. Raiders helped resuscitate wild action flicks, while 1985’s Silverado helped kickstart the western.

Given that track record, it should come as no surprise that Heat creates an effective film noir. It manages to bring the genre into the then-modern era, but it makes sure it reflects well on its predecessors. While it doesn’t reinvent the genre, it manages to give it a nice jolt.

Heat clearly looked to 1944’s Double Indemnity for its primary inspiration. Though the film doesn’t slavishly remake that classic, it hits on many of the same plot notes and themes. Heat conjures up memories of other movies as well, but the characters and story clearly remind us of Indemnity.

In many ways, Heat works better as it presents a superior cast. My main criticism toward Indemnity stemmed from its many lackluster performances, but Heat doesn’t suffer from those concerns. Heat helped make Hurt and Turner stars, and they show very good chemistry together. Unlike Fred MacMurray and Barbara Stanwyck in Indemnity, this film’s pair connect well onscreen and add to the story’s impact. Both are very solid actors and infuse their roles with passion and depth.

Of course, one difference between Heat and its predecessors comes from what they can show onscreen. Censorship standards changed a whole bunch in the 37 years between Indemnity and Heat, so the latter offers much more graphic sexuality. This doesn’t seem gratuitous, though. I’m sure the movie could still work fine under the more chaste guidelines of the Forties, but Heat benefits from the sexual passion we can see.

I don’t know if Body Heat really qualifies as a classic film noir, but it stands as a consistently interesting update on that genre. It boasts solid acting, plausible plotting and good dialogue. All that adds up to a tight little thriller.

Trivia note: Crenna played the Fred MacMurray role in an early Seventies remake of Double Indemnity. Knowing that, it’s interesting to see him here on the other side of the affair.

The DVD Grades: Picture B-/ Audio C+/ Bonus B-

Body Heat appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.85:1 on this single-sided, double-layered DVD; the image has been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. Despite a smattering of concerns, the transfer usually looked decent.

Sharpness wasn’t a significant problem. The movie sported a hazy, humid look to fit the muggy Florida climate, and that could make the image a little soft at times. However, this made sense within the visual design, so I didn’t fault the transfer for those elements. I thought the movie was accurate and concise within its parameters.

No examples of moiré effects or jagged edges appeared, and I noticed no edge enhancement. Source flaws stayed minor. I noticed the occasional speck or mark, but nothing intrusive. Instead, the movie usually stayed clean.

Again due to the visual design, colors remained subdued. The muggy setting led toward dense tones. These probably could have been a little more vivacious, but the transfer replicated them with acceptable definition. Blacks tended to be a little inky at times, though, and shadows could seem a bit murky. Though this never became a great transfer, it seemed acceptable for the material.

Though Body Heat got a Dolby Digital 5.1 remix, don’t expect much from the soundfield. The material concentrated heavily on the front speakers, especially in the center. Music broadened moderately to the sides and presented passable stereo imaging. We also got a little light atmosphere from the front and rears, but matters stayed focused on the center. This was essentially a monaural mix with a little extra attached.

Audio quality seemed perfectly fine for a 25-year-old flick. Speech was consistently concise and natural, with no edginess or other problems. Effects were a minor factor but seemed accurate and without notable distortion or other concerns. Music seemed a little muted but usually was fairly full. This was an unexceptional soundtrack.

For this “Deluxe Edition” of Body Heat, we get a collection of featurettes. Body Heat: The Plan lasts 17 minutes, five seconds and mixes movie clips, archival materials, and interviews. We hear from director Lawrence Kasdan and actors William Hurt, Kathleen Turner and Ted Danson. Kasdan discusses how he got to direct his first film and why he chose a noir. We then follow the story’s path to production, casting, rehearsal and performances, and a few aspects of the flick.

As you can tell from that synopsis, actors get the most attention in “Plan”, and that’s fine with me. Actually, I’d have liked to know more about Kasdan’s influences and inspirations, but at least we find good participation from the cast and learn a lot about their side of things. Those elements help make this an effective program.

Next comes the 16-minute and 16-second Body Heat: The Production. It features Kasdan, Hurt, Turner, director of photography Richard H. Kline and editor Carol Littleton. The show looks at location choices and shooting in Florida, aspects of particular shots and performance elements, dealing with sex scenes and violence, visual motifs and photographic choices, and a few other specifics.

“Production” moves our understanding of the film along well. It goes through its topics in a logical manner and explains them to a satisfying degree. I’d think it probably could run longer and delve more fully into the different areas, but it works nicely nonetheless.

Finally, Body Heat: The Post-Production goes for 10 minutes and 36 seconds. It includes notes from Kasdan, Hurt, Turner, Danson, Kline, Littleton, and composer John Barry. This one covers editing and removed scenes, music, and valedictory thoughts about the film.

“Post-Production” finishes matters in a satisfactory way. It goes over the end of the movie processes with nice detail as it runs through its subjects. “Post-Production” caps matters with an informative piece.

Five Lifted Scenes fill a total of nine minutes, 29 seconds. We find “In the Backseat” (1:03), “Stewardess” (1:01), “Practice Run” (2:06), “First Murder Attempt” (1:12) and “After the Attempt” (4:07). The last two are moderately interesting since they show an aborted stab at Edmund. The first three offer minor exposition but not anything memorable.

In addition to the trailer for Heat, we get 1981 Interview Footage with Kathleen Turner and William Hurt. This 12-minute and 35-second reel shows the actors individually. First Turner discusses her casting, some general thoughts about the film, reflections on old noir flicks, Kasdan’s direction and aspects of her performance, working with Hurt, and how her prior roles helped her in Heat. Hurt chats about what he liked about the script, challenges of the role and working with Kasdan, jumping from stage to screen,

Of the two actors, Hurt proves more interesting here. He offers some nice notes about his career path and choices. However, I can’t say either performer presents much useful information, so these clips are good for archival purposes but not a lot more.

1981’s Body Heat took a dormant genre and gave it life. It also accelerated the careers of most connected with it as the neo-noir became a hit. 25 years later, the film still holds up well as it presents a tight little thriller. The DVD offers decent picture and audio plus reasonably useful extras. This isn’t a stellar DVD, but it’s a good one for an involving movie.

Viewer Film Ratings: 4.5714 Stars Number of Votes: 14
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