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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 on 34 screens.

Rated R

Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
English Dolby TrueHD 5.1
English Dolby Digital 5.1
French Dolby Digital Monaural
Spanish Dolby Digital Stereo
German Dolby Digital Monaural
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 113 min.
Price: $14.98
Release Date: 10/7/2008

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


Panasonic TC-P60VT60 60-Inch 1080p 600Hz 3D Smart Plasma HDTV; Sony STR-DG1200 7.1 Channel Receiver; Panasonic DMP-BD60K Blu-Ray Player using HDMI outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Kenwood 1050SW 150-watt Subwoofer.


Body Heat [Blu-Ray] (1981)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (April 12, 2015)

Previously best known as a screenwriter for 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 nails 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 scheme, and all the complications that come along the way.

Attempts to update a dormant genre can become 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 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 1940s, 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 Blu-ray Grades: Picture B/ Audio C+/ Bonus B-

Body Heat appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.85:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. A highly stylized presentation, the Blu-ray seemed to represent the source.

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 didn’t become an issue, as the movie lacked noticeable specks, marks or other concerns.

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-looking film, it seemed fine for the material.

Though Body Heat got a Dolby TrueHD 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 34-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 but acceptable soundtrack.

How did the Blu-ray compare to those of the 2006 Deluxe Edition? Audio showed a little more fullness, and visuals seemed tighter and cleaner. As long as you accept the limitations of the original source, this offers a good upgrade.

The Blu-ray reproduces the last DVD’s extras. Body Heat: The Plan lasts 17 minutes, six 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, 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 37 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, 28 seconds. We find “In the Backseat” (1:03), “Stewardess” (1:01), “Practice Run” (2:05), “First Murder Attempt” (1:11) and “After the Attempt” (4:08). 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, 36-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, and related areas.

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. More than 30 years later, the film still holds up well as it presents a tight little thriller. The Blu-ray delivers good picture, age-appropriate audio and a few interesting bonus features. Nothing about the Blu-ray excels, but it presents the film well.

To rate this film, visit the DVD review of BODY HEAT

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